Sweet and Sour Chicken vs. Sesame Chicken

Have you been wondering about the taste face-off between sweet and sour chicken and sesame chicken? 

These Asian delights share cooking methods but dance to different flavor tunes. 

Let’s dig into the kitchen showdown and discover the key differences. 

Which one will win your taste buds?

Key Difference Between Sesame Chicken and Sweet and Sour Chicken?

Since sesame chicken and sweet and sour chicken share similar methods of cooking, sauce ingredients make them taste a bit differently.

Sweet and Sour Chicken offers a tangy-sweet harmony with crispy bites, whereas sesame chicken delights in a nutty, savory sweetness with a satisfying crunch. Unique flavors, both delicious.

What is Sesame Chicken?

Sesame chicken is a beloved Chinese-American dish characterized by its crispy fried chicken coated in a sweet and savory sauce enriched with sesame seeds and sesame oil. 

Origin

The dish’s origins can be traced back to the Guangdong province in southern China, where it was developed as part of the Cantonese cuisine.

Preparation

Preparing sesame chicken involves marinating chicken pieces in a blend of grated garlic, black pepper, salt, and whisked eggs. The marination process is followed by coating chicken pieces in a mixture of cornstarch and flour. The chicken is then deep-fried until golden brown and crispy, achieving a delectable contrast between the crunchy exterior and the tender, juicy meat within.

The signature sauce for sesame chicken with ingredients like ketchup, white sugar, dark soy sauce, honey, and water is a symphony of flavors. It combines the sweetness of honey with the savory depth of soy sauce and the nutty essence of sesame oil. The sauce is thickened with cornstarch to create a glossy coating that clings to the chicken pieces.

Taste

When savoring sesame chicken, the first sensation you have is the satisfying crunch of the fried batter, giving way to the tender, juicy chicken. The sweet and savory sauce envelops the palate, with the honey providing you with a gentle sweetness balanced by the salty notes of soy sauce and the nutty richness of sesame oil. Additionally, sesame seeds scattered throughout the dish provide a delightful burst of texture and nutty flavor.

Simply put, sesame chicken, as a staple in Chinese-American cuisine, whether served with steamed rice or noodles, remains a crowd-pleaser, delighting both young and old with its unique blend of flavors and textures.

What is Sweet and Sour Chicken?

Sweet and sour chicken is a classic Chinese-American dish that comprises diced chicken pieces coated in a batter and fried to crispy perfection. It is then served coated in a sweet and sour sauce made with vinegar, sugar, ketchup, and other ingredients.

Origin

The exact origin of sweet and sour chicken is unclear, but it is believed to have originated in China during the Qing dynasty (1644-1912). The dish was first introduced to the United States in the early 1900s by Chinese immigrants, and it quickly became a popular dish in American Chinese restaurants.

Preparation

The preparation of sweet and sour chicken is relatively simple. The chicken pieces are first marinated with some salt and black pepper, preferably overnight. They are then coated in a batter made with all-purpose flour, corn flour, and baking powder. 

The chicken is then deep-fried until crispy; the sauce is made by combining vinegar, sugar, ketchup, and dark soy sauce (sometimes pineapple juice, if you like). Lastly, the chicken is tossed in sauteed bell peppers and sauce and served with rice or noodles.

Taste

Sweet and sour chicken is a popular dish because it is both sweet and tangy. The chicken is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The sauce is sweet and sour, with a hint of tanginess from the vinegar. 

Overall, sweet and sour chicken is a healthy and delicious dish that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It’s a good source of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, and iron, besides being low in fat.

Differences Between Sesame Chicken and Sweet and Sour

Marination and Coating

  • Sesame chicken is marinated in a mixture of salt, pepper, garlic, and egg, then coated with cornflour for a crispy texture.
  • Sweet and sour chicken is marinated in salt and pepper and coated in a batter of all-purpose flour, cornflour, baking powder, egg white, and chilled water for a crunchy bite.

Sauce Composition

  • Sesame chicken features a rich, nutty sesame sauce with tomato ketchup, dark soy sauce, honey, sugar, white vinegar, and water.
  • Sweet and sour chicken, on the other hand, boasts a sweet and tangy sauce made with tomato ketchup, sugar, white vinegar, and dark soy sauce.

Additional Ingredients

  • Sesame Chicken: Includes sesame oil, sesame seeds, and spring onion greens for added flavor and texture.
  • Sweet and Sour Chicken: Incorporates green and red bell peppers for a colorful and crunchy element.

Flavors

  • Sesame chicken boasts a crispy texture, sesame’s rich nutty flavor, and a savory-sweet profile.
  • Sweet and sour chicken offers a crunchy exterior, balanced by a sweet and tangy sauce, creating a delightful contrast.

Side Dish Pairings

  • Sesame chicken is generally served with steamed broccoli or vegetables, adding a nutritious touch.
  • Sweet and sour chicken, accompanied by sweet and sour sauce and colorful bell peppers, enhances the dish with a sweet, tangy, and colorful twist.

Versatility

  • Sesame chicken elevates salads and can be used in various culinary contexts.
  • Sweet and sour chicken adds flair to wraps, rice bowls and complements a variety of dishes with its versatility.

Recommended Preference

  • Sesame chicken is ideal for those craving a nutty, crispy experience.
  • Sweet and sour chicken is suitable for those who enjoy a tangy-sweet adventure with added versatility.

Side Dishes

  • Sesame chicken pairs well with steamed broccoli or vegetables, adding a nutritious touch. 
  • Sweet and sour chicken often comes with pineapple or bell peppers, offering a sweet and colorful twist.

Versatility

Both dishes showcase versatility; sesame chicken elevates salads, and sweet and sour chicken adds flair to wraps or rice bowls. Their adaptability contributes to their widespread popularity.

What are the Pros and Cons of Sesame Chicken and Sweet and Sour Chicken?

Sesame Chicken

Positives: Crispy texture, rich sesame flavor.

Negatives: Potential drawback includes being calorie-dense because of deep-frying.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Positives: Tangy-sweet balance, versatile.

Negatives: Some may find it overly sweet, affecting its appeal.

Conclusion

Sesame chicken and sweet and sour chicken each bring unique flavors to the table. If you crave a nutty, crispy experience, go for sesame chicken. 

For those who enjoy a tangy-sweet adventure, sweet and sour chicken is the way to go.

But hey, why not try both and decide for yourself? 

Don’t forget to share your thoughts on which one you liked.

Cashmere M
Cashmere M

Cashmere M is a passionate culinary explorer and food writer with 25 years of home kitchen experience. This blog is a treasure trove of her insights into worldwide cuisine, cooking techniques, and expert knowledge of kitchen tools and gadgets. What's more... she's always seeking the healthiness of ingredients before putting them on her plate because she believes what you eat creates your internal environment: either healthy or unhealthy. So, to her, food isn't just a passion; it's a lifelong journey to taste and healthiness that you're welcome to join.

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