Thursday, January 27, 2011

Crazy-Good Lemon Chicken

You know a recipe has to be good if you have been making it for over the past 25 years!  My family keeps asking for it and I usually try to appease them and make it once a year.  No, this Lemon Chicken doesn't whip up in minutes, because there is deep frying involved, but it is worth the time. 

Lemon Chicken was featured on my Chinese New Year's Table yesterday.

This recipe and I go waaaaay back. 

  • My sister Jacqueline, Purple Chocolat Home, and I used to hold Chinese feasts and invite my brothers and various roommates to dinner.  We were all living, except my eldest sister Jean, in the same town then.  I learned then that Jacqueline is speedy quick in the kitchen.
  • Then there was the time that my roommates and I invited some of our guy friends to a Chinese feast at the soon-to-be retirement home of my roommate's parents.    We made Lemon Chicken and some other Chinese Dishes.  There wasn't a phone in the home yet and there were no cell phones back then.  We waited and waited for the guys to come.  After about an hour, we decided to begin eating.-- yes, we did!  By the time they showed up, there really wasn't too much of the feast left!  We did still remain friends.
  • I also made Lemon Chicken one year for a Family Feast for over 20 people during the 2002 Olympics that were held in Utah.
  • I served Lemon Chicken, and had the girls help deep fry, at my daughter's 9th Chinese birthday party.  See the dragon cake I made below.  It's a pre-blogging picture.  It's just a Bundt Cake cut in pieces.  The long dragon tail is filled with candy and tied with ribbon. 

 Recipe for Lemon Chicken

Note:  I adapted this recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook Chinese Cooking, by Leeann Chin printed in 1981.  I think the book was a gift from Jacqueline or my mother.  This recipe makes enough chicken for a feast, you may want to halve the recipe if just cooking for a small family.  To decrease preparation time, you could cook the chicken in larger pieces and then cut the chicken into smaller pieces before serving.  I never do that because we LOVE the batter.

3 pounds of chicken, cut into small pieces
Vegetable oil for frying
Serve over cooked rice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs
4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup water
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon baking solda
1 teaspoon salt
Lemon Sauce
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup honey
9 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice -- don't use concentrate
6 tablespoons light corn syrup
6 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons catsup
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
Dash of white pepper
Peel of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons corn starch
3 tablespoon cold water

Lemon, thinly sliced for garnish

1.  Marinating Chicken:  Place chicken in 13 x 9x 2-inch glass baking pan.  In separate bowl, put together the ingredients for the marinade, as listed above.  Turn chicken to coat both sides.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Remove chicken from marinade.

2.  Lemon Sauce:  While chicken is in the refrigerator, add the lemon sauce ingredients, as listed above, except the cornstarch and the water, until mixture is brought to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan.  Bring mixture to a boil.  At this point, in a small prep bowl,  add the cornstarch and water together and mix well.  Then add cornstarch mixture to sauce.  Cook and stir until sauce is thickened, about 10-20 seconds.  Remove from heat and remove lemon peel; you can put mixture through a fine strainer.

She isn't pretty, but my electric wok gets the job done.  I think my sister-in-law Lisa gave me this wok, but awhile back the thrift stores had tons of electric woks. 

3.  Deep Frying:  Heat vegetable oil (about 2-3 inches) in an electric Wok (or other electric deep-frying appliance) to 350 degrees.  Dip the chicken, one piece at a time, in the batter.  Before you place each piece of battered chicken in the hot oil, shake off the excess batter.  Fry 8-10 pieces at a time, until lightly brown -- about 2-3 minutes.  I usually find that the first few pieces take longer to cook; after the process gets going, the oil is heated up and the chicken cooks quicker.  Remove and drain chicken on a paper towel-lined jelly roll pan.  I frequently check the chicken for doneness, by cutting the pieces, to make sure there is no pink color.  To keep the deep-fried chicken warm, put jelly roll pan in a 200 degree oven with foil over the top. 
Happy little chicken pieces sizzling away.

4.  Arrange deep-fried chicken on a platter, pour Lemon Sauce over the chicken and garnish with lemon slices.  I usually have extra sauce and I serve it on the side.  Serve with cooked rice.

I hope you make Lemon Chicken and serve it to those you love.

Posted with the following: 


Marlis said...

This recipe is even better than I imagined! Too bad for the guys. Well, I can't wait to try it. thanks for letting me know!

Patricia @ ButterYum said...

Oooh - Hi Joni. I can't argue with "crazy good"! Love your pic - great tutorial. Happy FF.


Unknown said...

Oh, Joni...this sounds wonderful! I am bookmarking this for the next chinese night around here :)


Joy Tilton said...

Can't wait to try this delicious recipe, one of my favorites when we go out for Chinese! I can just see you girls chowing down on the food and the look on the guys' faces! Oh well, they were LATE! Your family is so lucky to have such creative cooks! I bet they know that already..

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

With such high praise this has to be good! I will have to get my ancient 'Fry Baby' out and give try this. I know we would love it.

Debbie said...

This looked delicious on the table yesterday so I'm glad you shared the recipe. I do believe that I have a wok around here. I think it got banished to the back of a corner cabinet. I'll have to look.

Ann said...

This looks so delicious. Your pictures make me want some now!

Cathy said...

It take time to prepare, but its worth every minute. I love this dish and my mouth is literally watering as I read about it!

Lynn said...

This sounds absolutely amazing-thanks so much:@) said...

Oh my goodness! I am so glad my drool didn't short out my laptop! This looks fantastic! I am definitely going to give this a try! Maybe next week. I am still trying to recover from your sister's hogburgers! Thanks for posting the recipe!

Anonymous said...

oh this does look and sound crazy good! thanks for sharing all the stories! anne

Barbara Bakes said...

This looks so delicious! I'm bookmarking this one.

Designs on 47th Street said...

I bet my family would love this. funny thing is, I keep telling myself I'd like to start preparing more Chinese food. Looks good!


Sue said...

Joni, I KNOW I would LOVE this chicken. I wish I had some right now; I just ate multigrain cheerios(with a banana) for dinner! Also, I love your dragon cake design~so cute!

Angela said...

Oh my goodness, that looks fantastic! I thought I would like your blog when I saw your list of favorite books:) I was right.

Jacqueline said...

That Dragon Cake is fab!

You brought back so many recipes. I don't even have this one in the cookbook! That shows how long it has been since I have made this one. I am going to steal your picture for the cookbook. I hope you saved me some! My mouth is just watering. Maybe Sunday, want to come and do a feast again, making 5 or 6 dishes?!!!

Anita Diaz said...

Well, I knew when I clicked on your url that my tummy would be tempted to cheat on my diet and you didn't disappoint, lol! Yum, yum, this looks so good! I don't have an electric wok, but I think I'll start looking for one!

Judy said...

Oh my!!!! I love lemon chicken. I'm definitely giving this recipe a try!

Sarah said...

Joni, that dragon cake is really clever. I plan to make the lemon chicken. Looks delicious.

Mari said...

This looks Delicious Joni!
Found you through Fingerprints on the fridge.

Would love you to share it here too:

abeachcottage said...

Thanks for the recipe. The lemon chicken looks delicious. Love it!

Larissa@Just Another Day in Paradise said...

UMMM droool and yummers. I am definitely going to have to make this and then share it on my Recipe Thursdays...I will OF COURSE give you a shout out.

Just Another Day in Paradise

Joy Tilton said...

Joni, you are so sweet to offer me a rice bag to match my shirt! Here I sit with MY rice bag on me toes too! Funny, I always think I'm the only one who does this...kindness all around the blogging world!
Joycee at grannymountain

Holly said...

A Chinese feast sounds like an awesome idea!! I love Chinese food and this lemon chicken sounds delish!!

Sue said...

Could I just come for dinner the next time you fix this? I seriously don't deep fry anything anymore, haven't for years. I remember when I had the little Fry Daddy and did so many things fried...we just gradually got away from it. I still eat fried food on occasion and this sounds and looks so great! I can only imagine how yummy it must smell!

As to your comment about recipes...I made my daughter a handwritten cookbook when she moved to Florida 3 years ago. It has the things she grew up with and simple things like how to make deviled eggs etc. I know she uses it all the time. I think there are so many things being lost through the generations...hopefully she will continue the tradition.

The Charm of Home said...

Yum! My kids would love this I will have to try it.

Ali Rockwell said...

Lemon chicken is the best. This sounds sooo good!

Unknown said...

Looks GOOD. My husband loves anything lemon. I will have to give this a try.

Amy said...

Wow, your crazy-good lemon chicken really looks crazy-GOOD! I want a tray all by myself! :P

Lee Ann said...

It looks great! I can't wait to try it soon!! Thanks for sharing!

Erica (Irene) said...

Can't wait to try this really looks like 'crazy/good chicken'. Anything with chicken and lemon goes well in my family. I just came on your blog and I really enjoy it so now I'll be a follower. thanks for sharing. ;-)

Unknown said...

I'm completely sold! This looks and sounds wonderful! I've saved the recipe to make asap!

Jacqueline said...

We made it Sunday. Although I think of it was one of my recipes, my kids acted like they had never had it before! It was great. We had so much chicken that we are having it again, freshly fried, tonight. Yum!

Holly Lefevre said...

My son loves Chinese (we all do)...I never make it we go out...but I am going to make this!

Elizabeth said...

I have been making this recipe for years too -- I have that same Chinese cookbook! We have made quite a few of the recipes from that book, but the lemon chicken is the BEST!!!