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Chinese Style Lemon Chicken

This has always been one of my favourite dishes from a chinese takeaway. The crispy batter, moist chicken and tangy/sweet sauce all come together so well. It’s not an authentic chinese dish, but one of the most popular in this country. Below it is a recipe for egg fried rice, a perfect accompaniment to the lemon chicken.


Serves 2
1 large chicken breasts (or 2 small)
1 egg
1 tablespoon Chinese Shaoxing wine (or white wine vinegar)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Zest of 1 lemon 
6 heaped tablespoons cornflour mixed with ½ teaspoon of salt
Vegetable oil

Lemon sauce:
200ml chicken stock
Juice of 3 large lemons, approx 120g
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons sugar
2 garlic cloves, grated
2 teaspoons cornflour, mixed with 2 teaspoons of water

1 teaspoon sesame seeds
2 spring onions, finely sliced


Dice the chicken breast into large chunks. Combine the egg, Shaoxing wine, soy and lemon zest in a medium sized bowl. Add the chicken and marinade for approximately 30 minutes.

Take the chicken out of the marinade and roll in the corn flour until evenly covered. Heat a good amount of oil in a wide based pan over a medium-high heat. You need enough to shallow fry the chicken. 

Individually place the chicken breast pieces in the oil and fry for approximately 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown and the chicken is cooked through.

For the sauce, combine all of the ingredients apart from the garlic and cornflour. Heat a splash of oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add the grated garlic and fry for about 30 seconds, until it becomes fragrant. However, you don't want the garlic to colour.


Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Add the cornflour slurry, reduce to a simmer and continue cooking for approximately 3 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.


Taste the sauce and add some salt if it needs it. You can also add more lemon juice or sugar, depending on how sweet or sour you like the sauce. 

Serve the crispy chicken with egg fried rice, the sauce and a garnish of sesame seeds and finely sliced spring onion.


Egg fried rice


Serves 2
120g cooked rice
3 spring onions, shredded, but keep the white bottoms and green tops separately 
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 eggs
1 tablespoon Chinese Shaoxing wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Small handful of petit pois, defrosted 


This is a great way to use up any leftover rice, as it works best when the rice has had a chance to dry out. If you are cooking the rice fresh for this recipe, you will get the best results if you cook it a couple of hours before serving.


I find that the best way of cooking rice is to soak the grains in water for about 20 minutes. Then wash the rice 3 times. This will get rid of any excess starch and stop the rice from becoming gluey. Then cover the rice with double the amount of water (120g rice/240g water), add a pinch of salt, and cook with a lid on over a medium heat until all of the water has been absorbed.

Heat the sesame oil in a wide base pan, or a wok if you have one, over a medium-high heat. Add the whites of the spring onions and garlic and fry for about 2 minutes until starting to soften and lightly colour. Add the rice and continue to cook for approximately 2 more minutes.


Mix the eggs with the soy sauce and Shaoxing wine. Pour into the pan with the peas and cook until the eggs have become like the consistency of scrambled eggs. Season if needed.  Garnish with the green tops of the spring onions.

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