About a month ago I wrote a post about a quinoa salad that I had made. Or more accurately, within a rambly post about nothing, there existed a quinoa salad. Also in that jumble of a post I mentioned that one of my favourite dishes was lemon chicken but out of sheer lunacy, when I had tried to make lemon chicken on that particular occasion, I ended up with lemon pork and quinoa instead of lemon chicken and rice. It was still good, but it just wasn’t the lemon chicken that I know and love. My lemon chicken is a dish that I don’t really play around with and that’s rare for me because I’m always adding new things or mixing and matching ingredients. But not with my lemon chicken. Every time I try to change an ingredient or add something new, the end result is always disappointing. That’s not to say I don’t make small substitutions like using sherry vinegar instead of rice vinegar, but I’ve learned that it’s best not to mess with the fundamentals of the dish. I like my lemon chicken to be made almost exactly the way it is supposed to be. The only good change I can make to this recipe is increasing its quantity, which I do with reckless abandon.
I make this dish quite often for friends because I want everyone to love it as much as I do. I also give this recipe out to people on a regular basis in the hopes that they’ll make it in their own kitchens even if I’m not around. This is an easy recipe to follow, but having the right ingredients is key. If all you’ve got is pork and quinoa, don’t bother. If you haven’t got a clue where to find ingredients and you’re about to eat boiled hot dogs on wonder bread for dinner then call me and I’ll come over with the proper ingredients and a pie, because what kind of guest would I be if I didn’t bring pie?
Lemon Chicken (Adapted from Chinese Cookery by Rose Cheng and Michele Morris)
1 tsp salt
4 tsp rice wine or dry sherry, (I’ve also used rice wine vinegar)
2 tsp soy sauce
1 egg yolk
Freshly grated pepper
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup chicken broth
2 T water
½ tsp salt
1 T cornstarch
1 tsp sesame oil
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
6 T cornstarch
2 T all purpose flour
1 lb skinned, boned chicken breasts, cut into strips
Combine chicken and marinade in a medium bowl and mix well. Cover and let stand 30 minutes.
Combine the ingredients of the lemon sauce in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally and more often when nearing the boiling point. Once sauce has thickened, remove from the heat and cover.
Mix together the flour and cornstarch for the chicken coating and pour it into a clean plastic bag. After the chicken has been marinating for 30 minutes remove the pieces of chicken from the bowl and place them in a plastic bag with the flour and cornstarch. Gather the top closed and shake the bag to coat the chicken strips.
Heat enough oil to coat the bottom of a large heavy bottomed saucepan over medium high heat and then drop in the coated chicken strips. They will only take a couple minutes to cook and you should flip them over half way through. Remove the chicken from the oil and drain on a paper towel.
Once you have cooked all of the chicken, transfer it to a serving bowl and coat with the lemon sauce. Serve over rice with any extra lemon sauce poured on top. Toasted sesame seeds and lemon slices are optional garnishes.