This sweet-tangy chicken with lemon sauce was inspired by a recipe called tangerine beef which I found in one of my Chinese cookbooks. I don’t have access to fresh tangerines but I like the idea of adding nuts to deep fried meat coated in a sweet sticky glaze. I substituted lemon for the tangerine and chicken for the beef.
If you prefer the lemon sauce that’s bright yellow in color, use white sugar and add a little grated turmeric. If you like the sauce to be a deep amber, ditch the turmeric and use dark brown sugar.
Sweet-tangy Chicken With Lemon Sauce
- 6 to 8 chicken thigh fillets
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup corn or tapioca starch
- 2 to 3 cups cooking oil for deep frying
- 3/4 cup whole walnuts
For the sauce:
- juice of 2 lemons
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the garnish:
- 1 small carrot julienned
- 10 stalks scallions cut into two-inch lengths then finely sliced vertically
- Cut the chicken thighs into 1 and 1/2 inch cubes. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Add the starch and toss to each piece thoroughly.
- Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan. While the oil heats, start making the sauce.
- Put the lemon juice and sugar in a small pan. Bring to the boil, swirling the pan as the sugar starts to melt. Lower the heat to medium and allow the sauce to boil until reduced and thick. This takes anywhere from five to 10 minutes depending on the amount of juice (some lemons are larger and juicier than others) and the moisture in the sugar.
- When the oil starts is hot enough, fry the chicken cubes (in batches if your pan is not large enough) until golden and crisp outside. Scoop out and drain on paper towels.
- In a clean pan, toast the walnuts. Set aside.
- Pour off the oil (and scrape and residue) from the pan where you cooked the chicken. Reheat the pan. Add the carrot pieces. Stir around for about 30 seconds. Pour in the sauce. Add the cooked chicken. Throw in the walnuts too. Toss everything to distribute the sauce well. You want every piece of chicken and walnut to be coated with the thick glaze.
Tip the contents of the pan onto a serving platter. Sprinkle the scallions on top and serve at once.