Steamed and shredded chicken mixed with a sauce made with black sesame seed paste. Served in a wooden bowl on a black tray on paper with Chinese patterns.

Banbanji Chicken

Banbanji Chicken is a appetizer frequently found in Chinese restaurants but has gained popularity in Japan as well.  Juicy, tender steamed chicken is served over tomatoes and cucumbers and then topped with green onions and a sweet nutty dressing. Refreshing and light, this dish is perfect anytime!

 

Banbanji is an appetizer and salad made with juicy tender chicken, cucumbers, tomatoes, and a sweet and nutty dressing.  Although the dressing is often made with white sesame paste or peanut butter, I use sweetened black sesame cream in this version to create a beautiful contrast with the red tomatoes and green cucumbers.

If you ever wondered how restaurants get their salad chicken to be so tender, the answer is that they steam it.  Before cooking the chicken it’s brined to bring out the juices and tenderize the meat.  When cooked in the steamer, you can get juicy tender chicken every time.  The important think to remember is not to overcook the chicken- you want to remove it as soon as the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F or 75 degrees C.

There are two different ways to serve the chicken- either sliced or shredded.  If the chicken is sliced then I leave the skin on to preserve the moisture.  The dish is topped with the dressing.

Sliced Banbanji Chicken

For shredded chicken, use your finders to shred the chicken as soon as it is cold enough.  Remove the shin and discard and mix the dressing into the chicken which will keep the chicken moist and delicious.

Shredded Banbanji Chicken

No matter how you serve it, the taste is always amazing.  The scallions on top can be mixed with with other chopped herbs to enhance the flavor.  For a Japanese taste, add some Shiso leaves and Myouga.  For a more Thai taste, try some cilantro and lemongrass.

I like to make Banbanji Chicken as a light meal on a hot summer day.  It’s a favorite in my home – so give it a try and let me know how it comes out!

Banbanji Chicken

Banbanji is made with steamed chicken, vegetables and a nutty sauce.  Steamed shocked is easy to make but it takes a little advanced preparation.  The chicken breast needs to be brined before cooking.  This softens up the meat and brings out the natural juices in the chicken.  The easiest way to bring chicken is to rub it with sea salt and let it sit for at least 30 minutes.  The sauce is often made with white sesame paste, but I like like to use black sesame cream – sesame cream (it’s does not actually contain cream) is already sweetened, and so no extra sugar needs to be added to the dressing.

In this recipe I show two methods to prepare the chicken, sliced and shredded.  Both are equally good but they present differently.  The recipe calls out the required number of ingredients to make two chicken breasts – I prepare one using each method below.

The recipe is delicious as it is, but for a more “Japanese” flavor you can to- this dish with sliced Myouga or Shiso leaves in addition to the scallion.

PREP COOKING YIELD
1 hour Serves 4
PREP 1 hour
COOKING
YIELD Serves 4
Steamed and shredded chicken mixed with a sauce made with black sesame seed paste. Served in a wooden bowl on a black tray on paper with Chinese patterns.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Chicken Breasts, 1/2 lb each
  • 1/2 TBSP Sea Salt
  • 1 Tomato
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 2 chopped scallions

Banbanji Sauce

  • 2 TBSP Cold Water
  • 2 TBSP sweetened Black Sesame Cream
  • 1 TBSP Rayu (Chili Oil)
  • 2 TBSP Soy Sauce
  • 1 TBSP Rice Vinegar
  • 1 TBSP Sesame Oil

Instructions:

  • Rub the salt into the chicken breast and refrigerate 30 minutes before steaming.

  • While waiting for the chicken, cut the cucumber in half and then slice julienne style using a sharp knife or a julienne slicer.

  • Wash and slice the tomato.
  • Refrigerate the fresh veggies until it’s time to plate the meal.
  • Whisk the ingredients for the sauce together.  Set the sauce aside.

  • When the chicken has come out of the refrigerator, steam it for 12-15 minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F /75 degs C.

  • When finished steaming, place into ice water for 2 minutes to cool the outside.

Method 1 – Sliced Chicken Banbanji

  • Leave skin on.  Cut a chicken breast into very thin slices.

  • Layer half of the tomato, then the cucumber and finally the chicken on a serving plate.
  • Top with half of the sauce and the scallion.

Method 2 – Shredded Chicken Banbanji

  • Shred a Chicken breast with your fingers while the chicken is still warm in the middle.

  • Mix the other half of the sauce into the chicken.

  • Layer the remaining tomato and cucumber in a serving bowl.
  • Top with the shredded chicken and scallions.

Notes:

  • You can substitute unsweetened peanut butter or white sesame paste in place of black sesame cream.  If you use either of these ingredients add 1 TBSP of granulated sugar to the sauce before whisking together the ingredients.
  • If you don’t have a steamer, you can use a steamer basket.  Be careful not to immerse the chicken in water- let the steam do the cooking.  You may want to use a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken is cooked through.
  • Do not overcook the chicken- remove it from the heat as soon as it is done.
  • Keep the chicken immersed in water until you are ready to cut or shred it to keep it moist.

 

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