My girls may be adults now but I still go by the principle that when they're feeling a little down, serving them comfort food helps chase the blues away. I cooked this today to make Alex smile.
A fillet version of the Vietnamese style honey ginger chicken which uses bone-in chicken thighs, this honey lemon ginger chicken cooks in 15 minutes.
Did having this dish for lunch make Alex smile? We got more than a smile. She giggled quite naughtily and asked what her father and I would eat for lunch (vegetarian and occasional pescatarian Sam had a mushroom celery stir fry) as though the dish was hers and hers alone.
This is an update of an old recipe. I modified the cooking procedure to make it simpler. And I added one ingredient to make the honey lemon ginger chicken even more tasty and aromatic.
What ingredient? Sesame seed oil. In the past, I’ve always considered it as a finishing oil. Then, I learned to cook three-cup chicken and discovered that cooking with sesame seed oil is pure genius. Note, however, that sesame seed oil burns fast. Keep the heat on medium-high and watch the chicken like a hawk to avoid burning the skins during the initial stage of cooking.
Cooking honey lemon ginger chicken begins by lightly coating the bottom of a frying pan with sesame seed oil. Not much. Just a drizzle, really.
The oil is heated, the chicken thigh fillets are arranged in a single layer, skin side down, and cooked over medium-high heat until the skins are lightly browned. The fillets are flipped over and the opposite side of the fillets are lightly browned as well.
The sauce, a mixture of honey, lemon juice, grated ginger and patis (fish sauce), is poured in.
The chicken fillets cook in the sauce, uncovered and still over medium-high heat, until done. During this time, the sauce reduces and thickens.
The chicken fillets, now cooked through, are scooped out, transferred to a chopping board and sliced.
The sauce is given a few more minutes to caramelize. There will only be a few tablespoonfuls of sauce toward the end of the cooking time but, trust me, that is enough. The sauce is rich and sticky, and flavors are highly concentrated. Drizzle over the sliced chicken fillets and the dish is done.
But, before the recipe, a tip about frying pans.
The thickness of the bottom of frying pans vary. The inexpensive ones are quite thin and that means anything cooked in them will burn faster.
Does that mean that it is A MUST to use expensive thick-bottomed pans? Not really “a must” but they are recommended.
“Recommended” doesn’t mean though that you have to go out right now and buy a nice expensive pan. If yours has a rather thin bottom, just watch your food closely. And you may need to lower the heat a bit to make sure that nothing burns.
Know too that the frying pan you see in the photos has a rather thin bottom (bought online; quite cheap). That’s why I cooked the chicken fillets over medium-high heat. Had I used the cast iron pan, I would have done the cooking over high heat. So, depending on your cookware, adjust the temperature accordingly. You DO NOT, however, want to cook this dish over low heat.
Pat the chicken thigh fillets dry with paper towels.
Pour the sesame seed oil in a wide non-stick frying pan and heat.
Arrange the chicken thigh fillets in a single layer, skin side down. Cook over medium-high heat until the skins render fat and turn golden brown.
Flip the chicken fillets over and cook until the underside starts to brown too.
In a cup, mix together the honey, lemon juice, ginger and fish sauce.
Pour the sauce over the chicken in the pan. Without lowering the heat, cook the chicken fillets in the sauce for about 10 minutes, depending on how thick the meat is.
Scoop out the chicken thigh fillets and move to a chopping board. Cut each fillet into half-inch slices then arrange on a serving platter.
Continue boiling the sauce while slicing the chicken. When the chicken slices have been neatly arranged on a serving platter, the sauce should have reduced to a few tablespoonfuls. It should be dark and thick by this time.
Pour the sauce over the chicken.
Sprinkle sliced scallions over the honey lemon ginger chicken before serving.