Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Eric Akis: Sesame Panko-crusted chicken served hot or cold

Crispy Asian-style chicken can be eaten hot out of the oven or chilled for a summer picnic.
Crisply coated sesame panko-crusted chicken is great hot for dinner or cold for a picnic. ERIK AKIS

When choosing what type of chicken dish to serve in the summer, it’s handy to pick one that gives you the option to serve hot or cold, which was the approach I took with today’s main recipe.

It’s called sesame panko-crusted chicken with ginger and soy. You start making this Asian-style creation by marinating a mix of chicken drumsticks and thighs in a mayonnaise mixture spiked with soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil and chili sauce.

The mayonnaise mixture flavours the chicken. That sticky, wet mixture also ensures the coating will adhere to the chicken.

To make the coating, you combine panko, coarse Japanese-style bread crumbs with some sesame seeds. When the chicken is coated and baked, it ends up having an appealing, golden, crispy exterior that works wonderfully with the tastes in the mayonnaise mixture.

On a cooler summer day, you could serve that chicken hot, right out of the oven. On a warm summer day, though, you could bake the chicken in the morning, let it cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate it until well chilled and, when it’s mealtime, serve it cold. That cold chicken it also something you could pack into an ice-cold cooler and bring to a picnic.

If enjoying the chicken hot, you could serve it with steamed rice and a mixed of stir-fried vegetables. If serving the chicken cold, accompany it with some salads, such as rice, quinoa or other grain-based salad, a mixed green salad, and/or my recipe below for cucumber peanut salad.

In my recipe, whether the chicken is served hot or cold, I’ve given you the option to bolster it’s flavour even more by serving it with Thai sweet chili sauce, which you could drizzle on it just before eating.

Sesame Panko-crusted Chicken with Ginger and Soy

Crisply coated Asian-style chicken you can serve hot out of the oven, or well chilled, creating something you could take on a summer picnic.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 45 to 50 minutes

Makes: four to six servings

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 Tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp sriracha or other hot Asian-style chili sauce, or to taste

1 tsp ground ginger, or 2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger

1/2 tsp garlic powder

6 chicken drumsticks (see Eric’s options)

6 chicken thighs

1 1/4 cups panko (see Note)

3 Tbsp sesame seeds

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• Thai sweet chili sauce, to taste (optional; see Note)

Place the mayonnaise in a bowl large enough to hold the chicken; mix in the soy sauce, sesame oil, sriracha, ginger and garlic powder. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to the mayonnaise mixture and toss and evenly coat each piece. Let chicken marinate in the mayonnaise mixture 20 minutes.

While the chicken marinates, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the panko and sesame seeds in a pieplate or other wide, sided dish. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

When it’s done marinating, coat each piece of chicken in the panko mixture, gently pressing it on to help it adhere. Set the coated chicken on the baking sheet.

Bake the chicken in the middle of the oven 45 to 50 minutes, or until cooked through.

Serve the chicken hot, right out of the oven, or cold. To serve it cold, let the chicken cool to room temperature, and then cover and refrigerate at least four hours or overnight. Keep the chicken refrigerated until ready to serve.

If desired, you could serve the chicken hot or cold, with Thai sweet chili sauce, for drizzling or dipping, just before eating it.

Note: Panko, coarse Japanese-style breadcrumbs, and Thai sweet chili sauce are sold in the Asian foods aisle of grocery stores.

Eric’s Options: The chicken won’t be quite as flavourful but, if desired, you could remove the skin on the drumsticks and thighs before coating them with the mayonnaise and panko mixtures.

Cucumber Peanut Salad

In this salad, refreshing slices of cucumber, sliced shallots and crunchy bits of peanuts are flavoured with a sweet and sour, mildly spicy mix of Asian-style ingredients.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: None

Makes: four to six servings

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

2 tsp granulated sugar

1 tsp sriracha or other hot Asian-style chili sauce, or to taste

1/4 tsp ground ginger, or 1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger

• salt to taste

3 cups thinly sliced English cucumber (about 3/4s of a medium cucumber)

1 large shallot, halved lengthwise, and then thinly sliced

3 Tbsp unsalted, roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped (see Eric’s options)

2 to 3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, Thai basil or regular basil

Combine the vinegar, oil, sugar, sriracha, ginger and salt in a salad bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Cover the salad and refrigerate until ready to serve. It can be made a few hours before needed. Gently toss the salad again, just before serving.

Eric’s options: If you don’t want to use peanuts, try using unsalted, roasted, chopped, cashews in the salad.

[email protected]

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.