Sesame Oil Chicken (麻油鸡)

sesame oil chicken, sesame chicken, ma you ji, chinese confinement food, confinement food

Soupy sesame oil chicken makes a one-dish meal if you throw in some mee suah (Chinese wheat noodle)

One of my favourite homecooked food is Ma You Ji or Sesame Oil Chicken. Many Chinese mums would be familiar with this dish as it is one of the must-eats during their confinement period. This dish requires lots of ginger, which has a “heating” effect important to help mommies recover from childbirth. My dad made it soupier than how it traditionally is because we like to drink the gravy and douse it over our rice. It packs the sweetness of the chicken, the smoky flavour of the mushrooms, the fragrance of the sesame oil. Sometimes when we have too much of the gravy, I would add a little bit of water and mee suah (Chinese wheat noodle) to make a bowl of noodle soup.

Every household has their own version of Sesame Oil Chicken. I know of people who use rice wine instead of shaoxing wine. Rice wine has a milder taste than the spicy, salty shaoxing wine, so it’s up to personal preferences. While most people use only basic seasonings, my dad likes to borrow the saltiness from the fermented bean paste and cuts down on the amount of light sauce. He also adds 当归 (dang gui) or angelica roots to give the dish an extra flavour. People who don’t like Chinese herbs may find it bitter, but I kinda like its earthy taste.


8 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 chicken
2 tbsp fermented bean paste
6-8 pieces angelica roots
1 palm-sized old ginger
100 ml sesame oil
500 ml shaoxing wine
½ tbsp dark soy sauce (Optional. For colouring only.)
3 tbsp light soy sauce
300 ml water
Salt to taste


1. Soak mushrooms overnight. Slice the mushrooms and keep the water for later use.

2. Chop chicken into small pieces, about 3 cm X 3 cm.

3. Wash the ginger, leave the skin on and julienne it.

4. Add sesame oil into the wok over medium heat. Add ginger and stir-fry until they turned brown. At least 5 mins.

5. Add mushrooms and stir-fry for another 5 mins.

6. Add fermented bean paste and chicken into the mixture. Stir well.

7. Add dark soy sauce and light soy sauce.

8. Turn up the fire and stir-fry. Once the chicken is cooked, transfer everything into a pot and turn on the fire to high heat.

9. Add the mushroom water, water and dang gui into the pot. *Note: I like my sesame oil chicken a little soupy. You can halve the water if you prefer it dry.

10. Once the liquid boils, turn down the fire to small heat and let it simmer for half an hour, but add shaoxing wine into the simmering sauce 5 minutes before serving.

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