Sticky Orange Chicken Thighs With Chile-Cucumber Salad
This recipe is part of the L.A. Times’ Week of Meals series.
This easy method of simmering browned chicken thighs in a soy-and-honey sauce makes them taste like they’ve been marinating all day. You can use boneless skinless chicken breasts instead, if you like, but you will need to cut them into 1-inch-thick slices and cook them less. Chinese black vinegar has a particular sharpness that’s wonderful in this sauce, but regular wine vinegar makes a fine substitute. If you want a milder salad, remove the seeds from the chile before slicing.
Using a microplane, finely grate the zest of 1 orange into a liquid measuring cup; reserve. Using a paring knife, cut away the pith and peel from both oranges. Thinly slice crosswise, then cut the slices into quarters. Add the oranges to a medium bowl. Roughly chop or slice the cucumbers and add them to the bowl along with the cilantro and chile. Add 2 tablespoons vinegar and 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then toss to combine. Let stand while you cook the chicken.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs to the skillet in one layer; they will be crowded and that’s OK. Cook, undisturbed, until a golden brown crust forms on the chicken, about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour the soy sauce and water into the reserved measuring cup with the orange zest. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, the honey and sesame seeds, and stir to dissolve the honey into the sauce.
Flip the chicken thighs, then pour the sauce around the chicken; it should immediately come to a boil. Continue cooking the chicken, using tongs to occasionally turn the thighs in the simmering sauce to ensure they’re coated all over, until the sauce is reduced to a thick but still spoonable glaze and the chicken is cooked through, about 6 minutes longer. Remove the skillet from the heat.
Divide the cucumber and orange salad among 4 serving plates, then divide the chicken among the plates. Spoon any sauce left in the skillet over the chicken and sprinkle with more sesame seeds to serve.
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