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Sticky Orange Chicken Thighs With Chile-Cucumber Salad

Time 30 minutes
Yields Serves 4
Orange zest, honey and soy sauce reduce to a sticky sauce for chicken thighs served with a bright orange and cucumber salad.
Orange zest, honey and soy sauce reduce to a sticky sauce for chicken thighs served with a bright orange and cucumber salad. Prop styling by Kate Parisian. Food styling by Leah Choi.
(Silvia Razgova/For The Times)
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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.

1

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.

2

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.

3

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.

4

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.

5

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.

Make it vegan
In place of the chicken, use two 14- to 16-ounce packages extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed and cut into 1-inch-thick squares.