The Chinese lemon chicken recipe in the archive has chili but no ginger. That’s because ginger is not a really an ingredient of the dish. But, if I have to choose between a lemon chicken recipe with or without ginger, I’ll choose the latter. The difference it makes it astounding. Is it a Chinese or an American Chinese dish? I don’t know and I don’t really care. I call it simply my lemon ginger chili chicken.
The lemon ginger chili sauce is cooked before the chicken is prepped. Allowing the sauce to cool slightly makes it thicker. And letting it sit undisturbed as it cools gives it a richer flavor.
The chicken is prepared katsu style—pounded to flatten, dredged in flour, dipped in beaten egg, coated with break crumbs and fried. The fried chicken fillets are then sliced, piled on a serving plate and the sauce is drizzled over them.
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon rice wine
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 pinches of salt
- 2 bird's eye chilies, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- zest from one lemon (see tips)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 6 chicken thigh fillets
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 whole egg
- ½ cup (you may need more) panko
- oil for frying
- ½ lemon, cut into halves then sliced
- toasted black sesame seeds
- sliced scallions
- In a small sauce pan, uncovered and over medium heat, boil together the lemon juice, rice wine, sugar, salt, chilies, ginger, lemon zest and turmeric powder until thick, about 10 to 12 minutes. The sauce thickens as it cools so it is okay if, after boiling, the lemon ginger chili sauce looks a little thin. Set aside to cool.
- Pound the chicken thigh fillets to flatten to about a third of an inch thick. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
- Place the flour in a shallow bowl. Beat the egg in a second shallow bowl. Spread the panko in a third shallow bowl.
- Dredge each chicken thigh fillet in flour; shake off the excess. Dip both sides in the beaten egg. Coat completely with panko (see illustration).
- In a wok or frying pan, heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of at least an inch.
- Fry the chicken fillets over medium heat, in batches if necessary, until golden and crisp, about three minutes per side.
- Cut the fried chicken fillets into strips about half an inch wide.
- Pile the strips of fried chicken on a serving plate or platter. Scatter the sliced lemon randomly (these slices are for people who want a little more tang in the dish). Pour the lemon ginger chili sauce over them.
- Sprinkle the lemon ginger chili chicken with toasted black sesame seeds and sliced scallions before serving.