You know you are loved when friends and family ship you thoughtful gifts of food. The most special of these are the fresh-from-the source foods that those who love you know you’ll appreciate. My grandma used to ship us her homemade strawberry freezer jam, my aunt would send us boxes full of pickled bologna (a Michigan delicacy), a colleague of my dad’s gave us an annual case of Texas grapefruit around the holidays, and my lover’s stepmother often ships us huge jars of Iowa honey from her local farmers market (well bubble wrapped after an unfortunate incident of honey leaking out of the box and onto our condo building mail room floor). Most recently, I came home from work to a USPS overnight package full of Iowa corn that my lover’s sister sent us. While we have some great corn in Colorado, you really can’t beat the flavor of fresh, creamy, sunshine-sweet Iowa corn.
We could have just eaten the dozen or so ears of corn for dinner that very night, but we savored them over a few days and paired them one night with this easy tea and sesame crusted baked chicken recipe that I adapted (quite heavily) from Joanna Pruess and John Harney’s Tea Cuisine cookbook.
While any oolong tea could work in this recipe, I used The Tea Spot’s Coconut Cabaret, a beautiful large leafed dark green oolong mixed with fragrant coconut flakes. Steeped in coconut milk it makes a rich marinade. Ground and tossed with sesame seeds it makes the perfect crunchy crust for an easy baked chicken.
I loved this tea and sesame crust so much that I plan to bring it back and make it again for steak, fish or tofu. Maybe I’ll make up a large batch and ship it to loved ones to use with their favorite baked protein meals!
Sesame Oolong Chicken
(Adapted from the Black and White Sesame Crusted Sole recipe in Tea Cuisine by Joanna Pruess with John Harney.)
1 (14 oz.) can coconut milk
4 tablespoons loose leaf oolong tea, divided (I used The Tea Spot’s Coconut Cabaret)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup black sesame seeds
1/3 cup white sesame seeds
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
Fine ground white pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade (long, thin strips)
- Combine the coconut milk and 2 tablespoons of the oolong tea leaves in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then remove from heat, cover and steep for 7 min. Strain coconut milk tea into a bowl and let cool. Discard tea leaves.
- Once coconut milk tea is cool (at least room temperature), add chicken breasts, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
- Grind remaining 2 tablespoons tea leaves in a spice grinder or small food processor until coarsely ground then mix with sesame seeds. Place mixture in a pie dish or other type of wide, shallow bowl.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove chicken breasts from marinade and place in a pie dish or baking dish; discard marinade. Microwave coconut oil to melt it (about 10 seconds) and combine with sesame oil. Rub both sides of each chicken breast with the oil mixture and sprinkle with pinches of sea salt and white pepper. Press chicken breasts into tea-sesame mixture to coat well. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until cooked through. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve whole or sliced topped with basil with a side of potatoes and corn and a glass of oolong iced tea.