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Cold Sesame Chicken to Satisfy a Constant Craving

Category: Food & Drink,Lifestyle

Cold roast chicken is a craving that won’t go away. Not that I’d want it to. I’ve loved it ever since I was a small boy (I’m a certified big boy now). Yesterday’s chicken, snatched from its Tupperware hide-out, straight from the refrigerator, sprinkled with a little salt and pepper, paper napkin on the side. It is a ritual I’ll never tire of.

You hold the chicken with your fingers, gnawing on the bones until not a scrap remains. There’s even something attractive about the wrinkly cold skin.

If it’s a leg, the tasty crunchy bits are not to be ignored. With a breast, it’s the scant-but-delicious meat that sticks to the bones that is the best part. A whole leftover carcass offers even more nibbling possibilities.

On the other hand, I love a boiled chicken. Completely different from a crisp-skinned roasted chicken, sometimes a boiled chicken is just the thing. It can be wonderful served hot — in a hearty tortilla soup, perhaps, or simmered Southern-style with dumplings. But it can just as easily be eaten cold. A vast assortment of chicken salads comes to mind.

The Chinese approach to cold boiled chicken is worth mastering. For many dishes, the chicken is not really boiled; rather, it is cooked quite slowly at a bare simmer. Some recipes call for bringing the pot to a simmer, then turning off the heat and letting the chicken steep in the hot liquid until cooked. This traditional method produces meat that is guaranteed to stay moist and silky.

Some make it with a whole bird, but my recipe uses whole legs seasoned with five-spice powder. Into the pot go scallions, ginger, star anise and turmeric, which infuse the meat with flavor.

Instead of being sliced, the chicken is usually chopped with a sharp cleaver right through the bones into chunks. I like it best that way, but using meaty chicken wing “drumettes” — or, if preferred, boneless chicken thighs — is another option.

Painted with a savory soy-and-sesame glaze and showered with chopped peanuts, cilantro and chiles, this cold chicken is perfect for a picnic, light lunch or summer supper. In warm weather, cold sesame chicken is especially welcome.

Recipe: Cold Sesame Chicken


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