Lemon Chicken

November 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

I have been craving Chinese food for ages.  However, since I am a poor grad student, I decided that rather than pay $10-$15 for delivery or something, I should just try my hand at making it myself!  I went with a lemon chicken recipe, similar to orange chicken… but with lemon.  Revolutionary, I know.

Now, I have to caution you about this recipe.  It’s very good, but if you’re looking for the cloying, artery-clogging deliciousness of mediocre Chinese delivery, you’re not going to get your fix here.  It also takes FOREVER.  I got home late on a Wednesday night and started making the recipe, expecting it to take maybe an hour, but it took almost 2.5 hours and covered my kitchen (and arms 😦 ) in hot oil.  All that said, I’m sure it’ll be less horrific for you if you try it; I was already exhausted and hungry when I got home and I am also a super clumsy person.  So don’t be scared away — just know that it might take you a bit longer than you’d expect.  Also, plan ahead!  The marinade works its magic best if you let it sit for around 24 hours, so whip that up the night before you want to satisfy your Chinese craving.

Lemon Chicken
(lightly adapted from original recipe found here)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil

1 c flour
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 c oil (canola’s probably best)

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ginger, minced
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon’s worth)
2 tsp lemon zest (also easily obtainable from 1 lemon)
1/4 c chicken stock
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp flour dissolved in 1/4 c water

EDIT: Feel free to substitute corn starch for the flour in both the dredge and the sauce – this will make the recipe gluten-free!

Put your chicken pieces in a bowl and add the soy sauce and sesame oil.  Cover the bowl and let it sit for between 8 and 24 hours, stirring every few hours to make sure the chicken is marinating evenly.


Combine the flour and pepper in a small bowl, and roll each piece of chicken in the mixture so it’s thoroughly coated.


Pour the oil into a large saucepan or a wok, if you have one.  Heat it to 360 degrees (if you have a way to measure this, great; if not, I just guessed, and it worked most of the time).  Add the chicken to the oil, 8 or so pieces at a time, and let them fry for about 2 minutes.  Turn them over and let them fry on the other side for another 2 minutes; you may need to adjust these times depending on how quickly your chicken is frying, so just check every now and then to make sure.


As each batch finishes, transfer them to a plate covered with a paper towel or two to let the grease drain off a bit.

Pour off all but 1 tbsp of the oil, and add the garlic and ginger (NB: this is really a recipe where you want to prep everything before you actually start cooking, since once you get going it moves pretty quickly).  Sauté for a couple of minutes and then add the lemon juice, lemon zest, chicken stock, and sugar.  Cook on medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved, and then add the flour/water mixture.  Keep cooking and stirring until the sauce thickens a bit.  It won’t be as thick and syrupy as many Chinese take-out style sauces are, so don’t expect that or try to keep going until it gets there; you just want it to be thick enough that your spoon leaves a bit of a trail behind when you scrape it through the sauce.

Plate the chicken and drizzle the lemon sauce over it.


Serve with rice, and enjoy!


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