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Gingery Sesame Chicken

My daughter Anaïs was feeling poorly today. So what does an Asian mother cook for an ailing child? Rice porridge of course. To go with the rice porridge, I decided to make a gingery chicken cooked in an aromatic toasted dark sesame oil. It is the ultimate reminder of how I was looked after and pampered by my mother during my postpartum confinement. Our version of confinement these days, unfortunately, is a little more ominous.

In many cultures, postpartum women are treated with much care and are encouraged to stay indoors and rest as much as possible, between 30 to 40 days, even up to 100 days. During this ‘confinement’ period, they are treated with massages and special diets that restore balance and replenish the body. 'Confinement nannies' are sometimes hired by families to care and cook for the new mother and to help with the baby. Very often, the mother or mother-in-law play this precious role. I can't tell you how grateful I was to have given birth to my two daughters in Malaysia, and to have my mum come help during my confinements.

She cooked this dish over and over again for her four daughters-in-law and for me during our ‘confinement’ period. Sesame seed oil is high in antioxidants and known for its anti-inflammatory properties. If you see someone at the supermarket checkout counter with a dozen bottles of sesame seed oil, it is highly likely that the household has just welcomed a new baby.

Fresh ginger can always be found in every respectable Asian kitchen. It is believed to be loaded with nutrients and bioactive compounds that have powerful benefits, ranging from aiding digestion to protecting against damage to the brain (if you've been pregnant before you'll know what brain fog is).

This warming dish feels like the perfect antidote to the current wet and cold weather. But for me, it's a lot more than that. It is the food I associate most with the start of my journey of motherhood. The aroma of sizzling sesame seed oil takes me back to that time as though it was just yesterday.

A recipe for post-natal confinement, Covid confinement, or quite simply, to evoke that nostalgic feeling of your mother cooking and pampering you. If cooking with chicken on the bone, increase cooking time. Good also with lean pork.

Gingery Sesame Chicken


serves 4

Prep Time 15 mins/Cook Time 20mins/Total Time 35 mins

  • 4 tbsps good quality toasted sesame oil

  • 40 g fresh ginger, julienned

  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 400 g chicken breast, diced

  • 1/4 cup (app 60 ml) water

  • 1/2 tbsp soya sauce

  • salt and white pepper


  1. Heat the sesame oil in a frying or a work over medium high heat.

  2. When the oil is smoking hot, add ginger. Fry until lightly browned, then add the chopped garlic.

  3. Add the diced chicken pieces, and stir fry about 5 minutes.

  4. Add the 1/4 cup water, and bring to a quick boil.

  5. Add a dash of soya sauce, and generous sprinkling of pepper. Cover and reduce heat to simmer gently about 10 minutes until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

  6. Garnish with spring onions. Serve hot.


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