Monday, January 9, 2012

Junky Chinese, refined: Lemon Chicken with Broccoli

Look, just tell me where that lemon came from and I'll shut up and go away. – Ricky Gervais 

As tasty as it looks.
This recipe is a request from a friend. I have to admit this wasn’t even on my radar. I associate lemon chicken with “junky” North American style Chinese food. It is a guilty pleasure…

Set all the components for your breading and then go at it.
Be warned it''s a messy job on the fingers.
I just LOVE “junky” Chinese food. I was a but apprehensive about how this would turn out. Would it be "junky" enough? In a word, no. But that's good.

This recipe is loosely based on one I found from the UK. The original was quite un-junky. I have made it a bit more on the junk side, I admit. But not much.

Just so you know, Lemon Chicken (the one with the thick, sweet lemony sauce) is not traditional Chinese cuisine. It seems to be a strange product of North American Chinese restaurants trying to appeal to our unadventurous tastes. 

There are many other lemon chicken recipe “out there” from other countries that bear no resemblance to this “Chinese” version. You'll soon find that out if you try to look for one. Luckily, your search is over!

Chinese-style lemon chicken always consists of breaded meat that is deep fried and then smothered in sauce. Super sweet and not really all that lemony.

My version has a fairly tangy sauce which is not too sweet, and added broccoli to increase the health factor. Anything to help a dish that has deep fried meat as a main ingredient is a plus.

Shallow fry the pieces a few at a time.
Then shallow fry the broccoli.
I would hazard a guess that any dish that has breaded meat is not Chinese in origin, strictly speaking. Think of sweet and sour (the red sauced kind). Hmmm….is it next?

Breading and shallow frying meat is an experience all on its own. I pulled it off, even though hot oil gives me the willies.

That said, this turned out pretty well. It’s an unusual hybrid to be sure. It has five-spice powder and chilli for some loose authenticity, plus loads of ginger. I would do it – or similar – again, in a heart beat.


Lemon Chicken with Broccoli
Total time: 45 min to 1 hour  |  Serves 4
Bring the sauce to a boil and then thicken it before adding
the chicken, broccoli and green onions. 
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cups broccoli florets (from 2 heads)
2 lg eggs, beaten
1 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup unflavoured oil (canola, peanut, walnut, etc)
1 tsp Five Spice powder
1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
21 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup lemon juice (3 lemon)
1 tsp chilli flakes, or to taste
2 tbsp soy sauce
2-1/2 tbsp sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp water
1 bunch green onions, sliced

Prepare your coating ingredients. Place the cornstarch on one bowl; beat the eggs in another; and cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and place in a third.

This next step is messy. Dip one chicken piece at a time into the cornstarch. Tap off the excess. Then coat each piece with the beaten egg. Shake off any excess egg and then re-coat in the cornstarch. Tap again and set aside on a plate. Try to not let them touch or they'll stick together a bit.

Re-heat the chicken and broccoli in the sauce.
This will take about 5 minutes.
Heat the oil in a wok until a few drops of water in the oil sizzle. Add a few pieces of breaded chicken at a time (about 8) and fry until crispy, about 2 minutes per side. Remove and set aside. Continue until all the chicken is cooked.

After the chicken is done, stir fry the broccoli until it browns slightly. Remove and add to the chicken. The oil will magically disappear when you add the broccoli...

Mix the stock, lemon juice, soy sauce, sugar, lemon zest, five spice powder and chilli in a bowl. 

Stir-fry ginger and garlic in the wok for 1 minute. Add a tiny bit of oil if necessary. Then add the sauce and bring to a boil.

Mix the remaining cornstarch with the water and add to the sauce. Add the chicken and broccoli back into the sauce and toss well to heat through. Then add the green onions

Serve with white rice.


If you like this post retweet it using the link at top right, or share using any of the links below.
Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks?

No comments:

Post a Comment