To cook lemon lime butter chicken, lightly floured chicken fillets were fried and smothered with sweetened lemon-lime sauce enriched with dollops of butter.
Why lime AND lemon? Does it really have to be both? No, you may choose just one, either lime or lemon. The dish won’t taste the same but it will still be good. I used both lime and lemon because we happened to have an oversupply of lime and there was a lone lemon in the fridge that was leftover from cocktail drinks that Speedy made the other weekend.
An oversupply of lime? It’s kaffir lime, not regular lime. We have a kaffir lime tree in the garden. There was a typhoon last week (or was it a storm?), heavy rains poured and a lot of the fruits got knocked down to the ground. As has been our habit, after ever tropical depression, one of us inspects the garden for uprooted vegetables and fallen fruits. A few days ago, after the skies have cleared, I scanned the area underneath the kaffir lime tree and found more than a dozen fruits lying around. Some were overripe, others had started to rot but there were at least four that were good for cooking or making drinks. So, I decided that dinner that day was going to be lemon lime butter chicken.
Two citrus fruits in one dish, is this lemon lime butter chicken excessively tart? No, the sauce—a mixture of lime and lemon juices, fish sauce and chicken broth—was sweetened with sugar. Think of it as a variation of the ubiquitous sweet and sour sauce BUT with the addition of butter. After the sauce is done, off the heat, dollops of chilled butter are dropped in and the sauce is stirred until the butter has melted and becomes incorporated in the sauce. The result is pretty amazing.
Lemon Lime Butter Chicken
- 8 chicken thigh fillets
- 2 tablespoons flour
- cooking oil for frying
- juice of 2 limes
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup chicken bone broth
- sugar to taste
- patis (fish sauce) to taste
- 1 teaspoon tapioca starch or corn or potato starch
- 2 tablespoons butter chilled and cut into small cubes
- lemon and lime slices to garnish
Sprinkle both sides of each chicken thigh fillet with salt and pepper. Place in a resealable bag, add the flour, seal the bag and shake to coat each fillet well with flour.
Heat enough cooking oil in a large frying pan to reach a depth of one inch.
Lay the chicken fillets in the hot oil in a single layer and cook at 350F for three to four minutes per side depending on the thickness of the fillets. Scoop out the fried chicken fillets and move to a chopping board.
In a small sauce pan, mix together the lime juice, lemon juice, chicken broth and about two tablespoons sugar. Taste. Add fish sauce to balance the saltiness and more sugar if the mixture is still too tart. Keep adjusting until you get the balance that you like. Stir the starch into the sauce.
Cook the sauce over medium heat, stirring often, until thickened and clear. Lower the heat and cook, covered, for another two to three minutes to get rid of any starchy taste.
Off the heat, drop the cubes of butter into the hot sauce. Stir gently until the butter is melted and fully incorporated into the sauce.
Cut the fried chicken fillets into strips. Arrange on a serving platter. Garnish with lime and lemon slices (those who find the sauce still on the sweet side and simply squeeze the lime and lemon juices into the sauce on their plates). Pour in the sauce.
Serve the lemon lime butter chicken at once.