- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 10, 2009

When it comes to entertaining, chicken offers cooks unlimited versatility. You can roast, broil, grill, poach, fry or pan sear it with equally good results.

Chicken offers other benefits as well. It’s a bargain compared to many of its shelf mates at the butcher counter, and breasts, in particular, are less caloric than many other meats.

Sesame-coated chicken breasts served with a peppery watercress salad is an easy and delectable way to showcase this fowl. Boneless, skinless breasts are coated with flour, dipped in an egg mixture seasoned with sesame oil and a splash of Tabasco, then coated with plain bread crumbs and sesame seeds.

Sauteed until rich golden-brown, the crispy breasts are garnished with a cress salad tossed in a dressing of sesame oil, rice vinegar and fresh ginger. For the best results, it’s important to use toasted sesame oil (which has a beautiful, deep aroma of toasted seeds) and to buy high-quality chicken.

This entree, which takes only about half an hour to prep and cook, is delicious warm and equally tempting at room temperature. As sides, I served rice seasoned with Parmesan and parsley one time and a snowy white cauliflower puree another. A single recipe serves 6 - a nice size for a summer get-together.

Sesame-coated chicken breasts with watercress salad

Makes 6 servings.

6 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (5 to 6 ounces each)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce such as Tabasco

1/2 cup flour

2/3 cup plain, unflavored bread crumbs (not panko)

1/3 cup sesame seeds

Canola oil


1/4 cup rice vinegar

3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce such as Tabasco

Kosher salt

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

6 green onions, cut on the diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick slices, including 2 inches of green tops

1 bunch watercress (6 to 7 ounces), cleaned and dried and tough base stems cut off

Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. In a shallow dish, whisk together eggs, sesame oil, and hot pepper sauce. Spread flour on a dinner plate. Mix together bread crumbs and sesame seeds and spread on another dinner plate. Dredge each breast in flour, then dip in egg mixture, then coat with sesame bread crumb mixture.

Add enough oil to just cover the bottom of a large, heavy skillet that will hold the chicken in a single layer. (If you don’t have a skillet large enough, use 2 medium skillets.) Place over medium heat. When oil is hot, but not smoking, add chicken and saute until golden-brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Reduce heat to low and place a lid slightly ajar over skillet. Cook 6 to 7 minutes more until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and set aside.

For the salad, whisk together vinegar, sesame oil, hot pepper sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and ginger. Place watercress and green onions in a salad bowl and toss with about half of the dressing or just enough to coat the greens lightly.

Season with salt. Place a chicken breast on each of 6 dinner plates and garnish with a little watercress salad.

Drizzle chicken on each plate with some of the remaining dressing.


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