Cast Iron

Sesame Chicken with Radicchio & Orange Salad

May 14, 2018
3 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

This idea stems from the Chinese takeout staple of the same name, but the resemblance stops there. Pound chicken breasts until thin, coat in sesame seeds, and pan-fry until crispy. Top with a juicy radicchio and orange salad. And done! If you want a slightly heartier meal, serve with something like bread, rice, or beans. —Emma Laperruque

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: 2-Ingredient Sesame Chicken (Guess the Ingredients) —The Editors

What You'll Need
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Sesame Chicken with Radicchio & Orange Salad
  • 2 navel oranges
  • 1 head radicchio
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup peanut oil, depending on the size of your pan
  • 1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  1. Assemble the salad. Halve the radicchio lengthwise. Cut out the core, then roughly chop. Add to a bowl. Peel the orange—either with your hands or a knife. To do with a knife: cut the top and bottom off each orange. Stand on one end, then guide your knife from top to bottom, removing as little flesh as possible. Cut into thick rounds, then chop into chunks. Add to the radicchio. Stick in the fridge while you make the chicken.
  2. Halve the chicken breasts horizontally. Freezing them for about 15 minutes beforehand make this easier (a trick I learned from Cooks Illustrated). Place these between plastic film or parchment and pound to an even 1/4- to 1/2-inch thickness.
  3. Add the sesame seeds to a mortar. Use a pestle to roughly crush until some seeds are powdery, others whole. Stir in the salt. Dump this onto a plate and spread into an even layer.
  4. Add the peanut oil to a straight-sided cast-iron skillet—you want about 1/4-inch depth, so adjust as needed. Set on the stove over medium-high heat. Dredge the chicken pieces in the sesame mixture, pressing firmly to fully coat. Check if the oil is hot: If you drop in a few seeds, they should instantly sizzle, not drop to the bottom or burn. When it’s hot, add the sesame-coated chicken. Depending on the size of your pan, you might have to do this in batches. If they’re overcrowded, they’ll steam versus brown.
  5. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until the outside is browned and the inside is cooked through. Transfer to a cooling rack to drain. Cook the remaining chicken if necessary, adding more oil to the pan if necessary.
  6. While those rest for a moment, dress the salad. Season with a pinch of salt and add the sesame oil. Toss. Taste and adjust the salt and oil to taste.
  7. Serve the sesame chicken immediately with the salad on top or alongside.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Sherry E
    Sherry E
  • Margaret Lukens
    Margaret Lukens
  • Cyd Larkin
    Cyd Larkin
  • Fern
  • Natasha Umar
    Natasha Umar
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

17 Reviews

David H. March 12, 2022
I'm a well-trained and long-time cook. There are few recipes that scare me away. But the world's best cooks often give us a recipe that is so simple with wonderful results. Thank you, Emma!
Sherry E. July 5, 2019
hope someone answers!!! given heat a d other issues right now, any other way to cook besides fry or sauté, any chance oven would work?
Rich July 8, 2019
It’s been a year since you originally asked about using an oven... looks like you’ll need to be the one to try the oven method. Or, if you have one of those air fryers.
Personally, I think an oven would fill the house with more heat than frying/sautéing.
Sherry E. July 9, 2019
nope no air fryer!!!
Margaret L. May 10, 2019
I subbed pork cutlets for chicken. The dish was a little bland, good but not great. The trouble with many 4 or 5 ingredient (plus oil and salt) recipes is that they are too simple, and so lack nuance. Fine for a desperate night, but not a dish I'd be proud to serve to guests.
Cyd L. August 4, 2018
Cookthe remaining chicken “if necessary”? As opposed to what? Chicken sushi?
economimi July 20, 2018
I didn’t have enough sesame seeds so I added some almond meal. We loved it and will definitely make again. Next time I’ll use the sesame-panko blend.
Emma L. July 20, 2018
That's so smart! I love when running out of ingredients leads to a happy discovery.
Sherry E. July 15, 2018
interesting everyone makes someone else's recipe theirs, add this add that, anyway, here I go! cooked in oven? is that an option? or does it need the pan fry method-
Emma L. July 15, 2018
Hi Sherry! I'm not sure how cooking these in the oven would turn out, but I imagine the crust would be pretty different—probably not as golden.
Sherry E. July 16, 2018
thank you
Fern July 15, 2018
So easy; think a fruit based chutney would work instead of the oranges --- and would be easier (unless you make your own chutney!)
Peanut June 8, 2018
There's a great idea in this recipe, but as written it's very bland. The chicken and perhaps the sesame seeds need to be salted, which will be obvious to anyone who cooks regularly but perhaps should be noted in the instructions. And a little heat and/or acid would be welcome. If I were to make this again, I'd follow Natasha's suggestion below and mix the (expensive) sesame seeds with panko for a taste and textural contrast. I made the chicken as written, and I substituted arugula for radicchio. I think that salad could also use more seasoning than just sesame oil and a pinch of kosher salt. I'd suggest using some of the juice from the fresh orange, maybe a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Andrew G. June 3, 2018
I wonder if this could be made even easier by buying Japanese style gomasio to coat the chicken
Christine H. January 28, 2019
Too salty.
Natasha U. May 19, 2018
This was so so good! I did opt for a panko-sesame mix for the chicken coating but made it had written. Also opted to fry some sliced chiles and parsley as a spicy, herbaceous garnish.
Hilary T. May 18, 2018
This sounds delicious! I love the expression “2 shakes of a lamb’s tail”. My grandmother used it!!