Recipe: Instant Pot sesame chicken for two, when going out is just too much work

What says “romance” better than a pressurized pot of meat? — illustration by Jordan Sellergren

A romantic Instant Pot stay-in style sesame chicken for two (since you’ve both progressed long past fighting for elbow room in oversold, prix fixe seatings, but you don’t want the local delivery since they’ve been to this address three times this week and it’s only Wednesday and yes they totally notice hence the passive-aggressive number of plastic flatware sets they’ve been assuming with your order).


A two-pound bucket of Instant Pot sesame chicken all for you (not that you deserve it, much like the company of others). Hell, why even bother with plates and forks? Just use those two meat scoops at the end of your wrist. It’s not like anyone is watching. Ever.


Your married-with-children friend, whose career is somehow personally and financially fulfilling while allowing time to create direct-action social good on a local and global scale, who plays in several bands (each more beloved and respected than the last), and the crowds at their always near-capacity shows like to say, “It’s less of a concert and more a family reunion” whatever the fuck that means, who’s recently been “messing around with an idea” that’s now a novella in verse being blurbed by Cynthia Cruz chronicling the multi-generational love affair between a dead language and a long forgotten religion, who has sent you this “so easy” Instant Pot recipe even though they make their family meals from scratch and from memory recalled from their days hosting a “speakeasy supper club” at their co-op in the Leith neighborhood in Edinburgh during grad school along with an encouraging note about how you’ll be able to “throw this together with things around the house.” (Ed. note: you’ll need to go to the store, likely twice, for more than half of these items.)

  • 4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced (about two lbs.)
  • Admit it, thighs taste better and are cheaper. Get the thighs.
    No one cares what type of utopia the package assures you that the chicken came from. Especially not the murdered chicken you’re holding. Not anymore.
    Just put the chicken in the basket and be done with it already.

  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • This is stupid. Onions are single use vegetables. Just use a smaller onion.

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Your hands are going to smell like this for daaaaaays.

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • Or 112 of those soy packets that fill an entire drawer in your kitchen.

  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • Using similar math, 66 packets from the other drawer.

  • 1 tbsp of sesame oil
  • You don’t have it. Get your jacket on, you’re going back to the store.

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • You can microwave that chalky mess for 30 seconds and it will turn back into honey

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  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • That’s five packets of the pepper flakes that come stapled to the pizza box.

  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • Sesame seeds, toasted
  • Enjoy getting these out your teeth for the next week.


Salt and pepper chicken. Preheat pressure cooking pot using the saute setting. Add oil, onion, garlic and chicken to the pot and saute, stirring occasionally until onion is softened, about three minutes. You think this recipe is only going to take three minutes, I understand, but between cutting all these ingredients and the time it takes the pot to reach optimal heat, you’re looking at 30 minutes.

Add soy sauce, ketchup and red pepper flakes to the pressure cooking pot and stir to combine. Pressure cook on high for three minutes. When timer beeps, turn pressure cooker off and do a quick pressure release.

Add sesame oil and honey to the pot and stir to combine. In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in water, and add to the pot. Select “saute and simmer” until sauce thickens. Stir in green onions.

Serve over rice sprinkled with sesame seeds. Eat in front of Netflix.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 236.