Foxfur’s Savory Sesame Chicken


Eat me.

Eat me.

OK, I’ll admit it, I like Americanized Chinese food. I love authentic Chinese food but with just a touch of sweetness. Not a jawbone ringing sweetness, just a touch. It doesn’t necessarily have to balance the dish, unless it’s supposed to. A simple wave from the wings will do me just fine most of the time. This is not one of those times.
Another admission; I *LOVE* Safeway’s sesame chicken. There, I said it. I love, above all others, the most white bread American supermarket on the continent’s (no matter what they decorate it like) deli sesame chicken. This is why I developed this recipe. I’m far too proud to ask an establishment for their secrets. Although many will provide them upon request, I’d much rather develop a recipe by making it four or five times and perfecting it with every revision. This applies to nearly all recipes you will see right here in Foxfurville. If you loosely follow my recipes I can guarantee arrival at the fifth plateau of NOM!

Safeway’s sesame chicken is characterized by its sticky and sweet coating of yummy sauce and whole sesame seeds. It is pretty damned close to “Oh hell, I’d better book a visit to the dentist” sweet. I can’t eat it on a regular basis, nor would I want to, but as an occasional treat it’s a kick in the pants free-for-all that fits rather nicely in your mouth.

What I ended up developing is a more savory version; a perfect balance of sweet and salty with a savory edge that will bring tears of joy cascading forth from your salivary glands. Just see if it don’t!
BTW, you won’t find cilantro in Safeway’s version. This was suggested by Sweetpea and is key in sending the dish into low earth orbit.

I recently scored a deep fryer. Holy cow, folks! It’s now my favorite implement of culinary devastation in the continuing war against empty tummies. I limit its use to once or twice a week, three when developing new weapons of mass deliciousness. If you don’t have one you can use a wok, dutch oven, or big rig hubcap (automobile hubcaps are too shallow).

Foxfur’s Savory Sesame Chicken

1 Pound boneless / skinless chicken breasts (2 large or 3 small)
1/4 C pineapple (tidbits are the only way to go)
Chopped cilantro
Oil for frying

For the marinade / batter:
9 TBSP Cornstarch (1/2 C + 1 TBSP)
6 TBSP Water
2 TBSP Sesame seeds
1 TBSP Ground sesame seeds (methods below)
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Soy sauce
1 tsp Sesame oil

For the sauce:
1 C Sugar
1 C Water
3 TBSP White vinegar
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce

There are many ways to grind sesame seeds. I have a suribachi (Japanese mortar & pestle) but rarely use it for the seeds unless I’m incorporating other stuff in with them. I also have a Japanese handheld grinder / dispenser but it doesn’t give the mashy, pasty texture that I like for this recipe. For this I use one of two field expedient Macguyver methods. The first is with two spoons. Put a small amount of seeds in a spoon and mash with another spoon. Simple.
The one that I prefer is to use a small stainless steel measuring cup (mine is a 1/8 C) and the end of the handle of an old Eklund bottle opener. It’s a good old fashioned maple handled dinosaur from the 1950’s that I inherited from my grandmother. Drop the seeds in the cup and beat and grind the hell out of them.

Blah blah blah, let’s get cookin’…
Mix up the marinade / batter and set bu your cutting board.
Dismember the chicken into 1/2 to 3/4 inch chunks and toss them in the marinade. Let the chicken rest in the goo until they coo with relaxed little clucks, about 30 minutes.
While they’re relaxing, mix up the sauce. Set aside.

Heat your oil to 350 – 360 deg F.
Use a thermometer or chopstick (will bubble at the tip when at proper temp) to know when you get there.

Using a fork, stab the chicken one piece at a time and drop in from as low an altitude as possible. No Bellyflops! You’ll want to do this in batches of  7 – 9 pieces. Don’t crowd the pond, chickens aren’t social swimmers.
Fry until a straw or golden brown color. Cut open a piece from the first batch. Pink means it’s medium rare, not good. Throw her back in the pool for another minute.

I drain mine using two paper towels atop a brown paper grocery sack. transfer to a paper plate lined with paper towels between batches. Drop chicken in oil, remove to towel / bag, drop in more chicken, move drained chunks to plate.

Once all the chickens have had their turn, heat up a frying pan or skillet on medium-high heat. Dump the chicken into the pan and heat, stirring and shaking every 10 – 15 seconds until they’re good and hot. Turn down to medium. Now pour in about 2 TBSP of the sauce. Stir around to coat the pieces and let it cook down to a sticky goop. Don’t let it burn. Now shake in 2 more TBSP of sesame seeds. When it gets goopy go ahead and dump another 2 TBSP in and do the same. You can actually do this with all of the sauce and end up with chunks so sticky that they’ll stick upside down to the range hood. I’ve done this and Foxfur was amused. I’ll pour and goop 2 – 3 times otherwise it gets too sticky.

Dump in the drained pineapple, cook for about 30 seconds, then flood with the remaining sauce. Cook down a bit until it reaches your ideal thickness or add a bit of cornstarch water to thicken it up.

Serve over rice, sprinkle with cilantro and enjoy!

Have some toothpicks on hand…
This stuff is finger lickin’, molar stickin’ good.

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Cooking with Foxfur: Junk Fried Rice


Fried rice, the garbage disposal dish. Got leftovers? Make fried rice. You can put anything in it and it will be a damn fine dish. Got a half chicken gathering flies? How about that pork chop you’re thinking of trashing? Your hubby and the rugrats didn’t finish their ham at breakfast? So much the better if they didn’t finish their scrambled eggs. Did the folks sitting next to you at the restaurant not finish their plates? Go scrape their plates! Their loss is your gain. Been there, done that more than once when I was a bachelor… I really like to make mine from scratch but when I have bits of vittles like left over stir-fry, that half can of Spam hiding in the corner of the fridge, or diced up whatever that I forgot to use for another recipe, I’ll dump it in the wok and recycle it into a new dish.

The biggest hurdle you might face is the rice. You pretty much have to use cold, not necessarily refrigerated, rice. 4 to 6 cups of cooked rice will do just fine. I toss 2 cups of rice and 3 cups of water in the rice cooker and let ‘er go. When done I’ll unplug it and let it sit for an hour or three. If you’re in a hurry, dump it on a cookie sheet and spread it out to cool. Don’t worry about the type either. Long grain is what I like but I’ve used short grain, medium grain, sushi, jasmine, and brown rice. Hell, try wild rice, black rice, or Rice Crispies. Hmm, fried Rice Crispies… Some R&D is called for…

Remember: Cooking with Foxfur is primarily aimed at people who think they can’t cook. The other demographic is folks who worry too much about measurements. I’ll put an ingredient list below, BUT, please don’t follow it! Make additions, substitutions, deletions, and excuses as needed. You’re making dinner not rocket fuel. Just like tossing hand grenades, close is good enough.

So here’s what I started with:

A bewildering array epicurean detritus...

Foxfur’s Junk Fried Rice

  • A pound or so of meat
  • 4 – 6 Cups of cold rice
  • A can of corn, drained
  • A can of peas, drained
  • 2 eggs, scrambled
  • 1 Green onion thinly sliced
  • Other tasty scraps

If you’re using fresh uncooked meat, why not marinate it? I used dark soy sauce, mirin, and sesame oil. You don’t have to drown the meat. Use a tablespoon of soy sauce, whatever type you like, a tablespoon of mirin (sweetened rice wine) although sake, wine, beer, or fruit juice will do just as well, and a splash of sesame oil. Use whatever oil you have. Cut the meat up into fine pieces. I go with 1/4 inch cubes, but do what you want. This is where you get to stick it to the restaurant and get even for all the unsatisfying fried rice you’ve ever had. Were their meaty bits too teensy? Use gobbing hunks in yours. Too little meat? Add three pounds to yours. Whatever you want is what you should have. Throw the meat in a bowl with the marinade. Do this before doing anything else. I like my meat to soak for half an hour before I start playing with it.

Git yer veggies. Put a good teaspoon or two of oil in the pan and heat it up pretty hot. Throw the veggies in and stir ’em around real good like. You want them all to get a bit of oil on them. Cook ’em until they’re a bit past what most folks would consider done. Not burned but not too moist. That’s how I like mine, anyway. Peas are a good indicator vegetable. They should be a bit shriveled but not all pruney. Don’t worry if you get some burned or black spots on them, it’s all part of the goodness. The picture below shows how mine look when they’re where I like ’em.

Stop when they look like this.

When you cook a little longer you’ll concentrate the flavors. The corn will be a bit denser, the peas a bit firmer, and the flavor a bit better. Toss the veggies aside. I usually use the bowl I’m going to serve with or the container I’ll put the leftover product in the refrigerator with.

Now grab yer meat. Heat up the pan with another teaspoon or two of oil. Throw in a bunch of ginger, either minced or cut into matchsticks. Drop a few cloves of garlic in as well. I like using the chopped stuff in a jar. I’d rather be outside in the yard setting stuff on fire than inside peeling and chopping garlic. Stir ’em around for 20 – 30 seconds and dump the meat in. If it clucked or snorted, cook the piss out of it. There ain’t no such thing as a medium rare chicken breast or a bloody rare pork steak that’s going to be good for you. Even if it’s beef, I’ll cook it til it’s well glazed and just a bit dry. Again, the flavor is concentrated and I love the firm texture.

Cook the pork (or other raw meat) with the marinade if using one.

Cook the meat until glazed with marinade.

Stuff your meat into the same container that your veggies went into.

The scrambled eggs are optional. I feel they’re mandatory. While I say to use two, I use three. There’s never enough eggs in the fried rice in any restaurant! It’s enough to make you want to bring a pocket full of eggs and sneak a handful in your bowl. When you beat your eggs, be sure to add salt, pepper, onion powder, milk, sugar, and whatever else you’d put in them for normal scrambled eggs. Drizzle a bit of oil in the pan, heat it up real good, and scramble the hell out of the eggs. It doesn’t matter if they’re not completely done as they’ll finish up when you mix them into the rice a bit later.

Now comes the part that stumps lots of people. An oft heard question is “How do I know when the rice is fried enough?” When you like it is my standard answer. It depends if you like your fried rice clumpy or grainy. I like mine with separated grains. I use 4 to 5 tablespoons of peanut oil for 4 to 6 cups of rice. Heat up the oil and add the rice. Stir and toss it around to get the oil worked through it. Break up clumps with your spatula or spoon. If it is clumping pretty bad or keeps reclumping, add more oil! Add a teaspoon or so, stir, bust up the rice clods and add more as needed. Keep stirring and flipping the rice for 5 to 10 minutes. I like mine pretty well done so I go for about 8 minutes. You don’t want the rice to be crispy or hard. Keep it between the lines…

Add 583,000 grains of rice.

Grab your bottle of soy sauce and shake some over it after 5 minutes or so. You might like a lighter soy flavor, I like a heartier, saltier flavor. Add a bit and taste it. Remember to keep tasting your food as you cook. Nothing makes me crazier than to see people cooking and not tasting! It’s like painting with your eyes closed. It’s the number one way to ruin your food as well as your reputation as a cook.

The perfect shade of brown.

You’ll notice above that not every grain of rice is brown. This isn’t a commercial or test kitchen. This isn’t a cookbook. This is Real Life! If I was going for a polished look the first thing I’d do is upgrade my shitty little point and shoot digital camera to something that actually renders colors appropriately. I’d rather spend my money on wine, ammunition, and fireworks.

If you really must have absolute uniformity, spread the rice out on a cookie sheet, fill up a Windex bottle with soy sauce, and mist the rice until all is right with the world. Be aware that it’s anally retentive people like you that make the rest of us look bad.

It’s time to bring it all together now. Grab your meatbucket and rain the meaty goodness down upon the rice. The veggies too! Be sure to add the scrambled eggs and green onions. Mix it all up good and thoroughly.

Add leftover fried rice to the next batch of fried rice.

There you have it, junk fried rice. For an even heartier flavor, add 1/4 teaspoon of MSG. Don’t listen to the pussies that would have you believe the stuff will kill you or it’s manufactured in Satan’s pants. The stuff is seriously good and no matter what the elitist foodies say, it’s a great way to boost the flavor of foods. It is no more cheating than adding salt or water to food. As a matter of fact, it’s much healthier than salt as the sodium content of MSG is far lower than table salt. Soy sauce, bullion, gravy, bacon, roasted meats, blue and parmesan cheese all have naturally occurring amounts of glutamate. It’s the reason savory foods taste the way they do. For you smart ones, you know the fifth taste: Umami, “pleasant savory taste”.

Whether you use it or not, fried rice made by your own hands will meet, and more likely than not, beat that which you find in a restaurant. Maybe not the first time but hey, you sucked pretty bad the first time you rode a bike, no?

Cooking With Foxfur: Sweet & Sour Blue Chicken


Today I’m going to be showing y’all how to whip up a Snooseville variant of sweet and sour chicken. I was going to call it “What The Fuck Chicken” but that could easily refer to nearly any of my chicken recipes including my famous chicken fried Spam… This recipe came to me last night as I was searching for a duplicate of authentic Americanized Chinese restaurant sweet & sour sauce. I’ve made many different types of sweet and sour sauce but, being the simpleton that I am, I loves me some of that clear and simple sauce. I stumbled upon the easiest sauce you could ever hope for and one that you can make from what you have on hand. All it takes is water, sugar, vinegar, cornstarch, and red food dye. After mulling it over for a while, I rejected the idea of red, too conformist, and thought of green or blue as a way of sticking it to the man. Seeing as how I was fresh out of green, I decided on blue. Feel free to substitute green, yellow, or black. Anything but red. Red is far too unoriginal for us, right? Right! So, without further adieu (which I have plenty of), here goes nothing.

Sweet & Sour Blue Chicken

1 32 ounce bag of General Tso’s chicken or battered chicken

1 large onion

2 Sexy carrots

2 Bell peppers

2 Teaspoons minced ginger

1 Teaspoon minced garlic

Sauce:

1 Cup water

1 Cup sugar

¾ Cup white vinegar

3 Tablespoons cornstarch mixed in 3 Tablespoons of water

Peel the onion and cut into wedges. Peel the carrots and cut diagonally in thin slices. Seed peppers and cut into ½ x ¾ inch pieces. OR, get fancy and use a really small star shaped cookie cutter. I’m not joking. People love stuff like this. You can get a job cooking at the White House with this trick.

Mince ginger and garlic and place in a little dish.

Combine water, sugar, and vinegar and stir until dissolved. Look at these fucking peppers!

I’m using a West Bend electric wok so I’ll be referring to my cooking vessel as a wok. You can use a wok, frying pan, maybe even a hubcap or gold pan. Whatever. I don’t care. You’re gonna do it no matter what I say.

Drizzle a teaspoon of oil into your heated wok. Dump in ¾ of the ginger and garlic. Stir it around for 5 – 10 seconds. Launch your carrots in and slap them around like my, err, a mouthy boyfriend for 60 – 90 seconds. Next, dump the peppers and onions in and go go go for another 3 minutes or so. Stop when the veggies are as crisp or as mushy as you like. Flip them into a bowl and set aside for now.

Now, get a firm grip on your chicken. I’m using frozen battered chicken because it’s what I have to work with and I’m lazy. If you want to cut up chicken breasts and dredge them in flour, be my guest. You obviously have a large amount of time on your hands so why not knit a sweater while you’re at it, smartass?

My chicken came with a packet of General Tso’s sauce. This sealed packet of communist aggression didn’t give up easily and had to be forced to surrender at gunpoint, pinko bastard! I banished the packet of dissent to the hinterlands of the freezer in a multicultural tryst with a package of frozen burritos. Adios, bitches!

Pour ¼ cup (2 ounces) of oil into your pan. I use peanut oil because it is domestically produced and does not support terrorism (unlike them fancy ass foreign oils…). For a real treat, replace ½ ounce (2 drachms) of the oil with sesame oil. Heat and toss in the remaining ginger and garlic. Dump the chicken in and stir constantly for 15 – 20 minutes. So long as it’s not pink and raw in the center you’re good. I like mine a bit crispy and brown so I’ll go for the full 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a container that DOES NOT contain the veggies. DO NOT let the chicken touch the veggies!

Pour the sauce mixture into the wok. Heat to a low simmering boil and stir until everything is fine and dandy. Now is where the blue (or color X) comes in. I only had ¾ of a tube of blue food coloring gel and used it all. I didn’t end up with nearly the depth of color that I wanted. I was going for something to gross out kindergarteners but ended up with something that Alice Waters would probably be cool with instead. Next time I’ll use liquid food coloring and have shitloads on hand. When in doubt, add more. With a recipe like this, which is totally asinine, go completely nuts and err on the side of recklessness. Who the hell is going to tell you screwed it’s up, huh? Of course it’s screwed up! You’re cooking with Foxfur!

Put on a pair of safety goggles and begin adding the cornstarch / water mixture. Be very careful!!! Many inexperienced cooks have suffered catastrophic facial burns requiring hundreds of hours of reconstructive surgery only to end up looking like Sharpei puppies hesitantly emerging from a food dehydrator. Don’t let this happen to YOU! The sauce will begin to thicken upon stirring the CS water into the sauce. Bear in mind that the sauce is hot and will appear thinner now than it will be when it is cool. If you add enough CS water, you’ll end up with something approximating brick mortar when it cools off. Or toothpaste like mine did. I didn’t care. It fit into my foodhole and stayed down. I win again! You can easily test the cooled thickness of the sauce by spooning a few drops on a cool plate or piece of aluminum foil. Let it cool for a few seconds and lick at it. Undignified? Yes. Most chefs are. Look at me.

Now grab your chicken and plunge it into the sauce. Mix it around in the sauce on low heat for a few minutes so that the sauce can work in and get all flavory like with it. Add in the veggies then fold, spindle, and mutilate. Pour the mess into a serving bowl or plate and prepare to disgust your guests.

Serve it on a bed of rice which may or may not have been dyed to a horribly contrasting color. Saffron rice, yellow, would be a good choice. The blue of the sauce should mix with the rice’s yellow and result in a sick-ass green streaked mess to grace the plate of your “friends” that you’ve invited to “dinner”, wink, wink.

Some final comments:

Cooking is not a science except in the case of cooking meth. You don’t want to fuck up on that. Recipes are mere guidelines. They’re the beginning of an adventure that only you will be going on and that only you can judge the success of. You wouldn’t pack a suitcase with only what a list told you to, would you? If you want to add pineapple to this recipe, fine. If you think your kids would like gummi bears in it, who am I to disagree? That actually sounds pretty awesome and will end up in a future recipe to be featured here. The only recipes where following the ingredient list and cooking methodologies are absolutely critical is when baking cakes and cookies. Nearly everything else is fungible. Get creative and use your imagination. The best recipes are the ones you’ll never find in a cookbook. They’re the ones passed around on 3×5’s by little old ladies in the back row of bingo parlors.

It’s just like life: Nothing exciting ever comes from following all of the rules all of the time.

Update: The General Tso sauce kicks ass on my Spam and Corn Fritters