Lemon chicken may be one of the most loved Asian chicken recipes. This juicy and deliciously crispy fried chicken is the menu for your next dinner. Most importantly, the chicken thighs soaks up the bold and flavourful marinade and turn out awesomely tasty.
This is easily a family favourite. Kids and adults will fall in love with the crispiness and the tangy gravy. Since fresh lemon juice is used, the sourness is mild and it adds some sweetness to the sauce.
This recipe also explores a simple way to prepare rice with aromatics which adds up to the whole delivery of the dish making it delicious and complex. In actual fact, this recipe is really easy.
Why this Chinese lemon chicken recipe?
The steps are easy. This recipe is a complete meal as it contains protein as well as carbohydrates. This is not the common dry fried chicken. It is thicker than a piece of schnitzel or tonkatsu. Instead, it is almost like a fat piece of KFC-style chicken.
You will love this recipe if you like lemon gravy which is not too sweet. The ratio of sweetness balances the savouriness of the chicken. It is truly a great match.
Last but not least, the wonderful aroma of the rice. It just cannot be compared to plain white rice. Try it and you will know what I mean.
How to make Chinese lemon sauce?
Lemon sauce served with fried chicken or pork is a popular dish among the Chinese communities around the world. It is made of lemon juice with its zest and sugar.
A thickening agent like cornstarch is a must or the gravy will be runny. Salt is added to defuse the bitterness of the lemon. As a result, it enhances the sweetness and ends up being the perfect lemon sauce.
Batter that is better than Chinese takeaways
Crunchiness is what the batter aims to deliver. The secret is the egg and the flour combination. Using wheat flour and potato starch make the batter fluffy and crispy at the same time.
Do not crowd the pan when frying or the batter will turn soggy. Allow space for them to crisp up.
Substitute for potato starch
The best replacement is tapioca starch. Otherwise, a popular option is cornstarch. Although it does not stand up to high heat frying unlike the original choice of flour, cornstarch will still deliver a good result. Use either substitute at a ratio of 1:1.
Chicken breast, drumsticks or wings
This recipe works best with boneless chicken thighs because they do not dry up easily during the frying process compared to chicken breast as the meat is leaner.
Drumsticks and wings are options if you prefer meat with bones.
Secret to great fried chicken
In many Chinese restaurants, the chicken will always be fried twice. The first frying is to cook the meat while the second is done at a higher heat to create the gustatory sensation of crunchiness which we all love.
That is exactly what we are replicating in this recipe as frying the chicken over high heat entirely might cause the chicken to be overcooked. However, if the heat is too low, they might be undercooked.
Freezing battered chicken
Yes, you can freeze battered chicken in bulk. However, the chicken might not cook fully during the frying process as the thickness of the chicken thighs is not uniformed.
Therefore, it is best to par-fry them until they turn slightly yellow or once the crust is built. Allow them to cool completely before storing. They can be kept for up to 3 months if stored in an air-tight container.
To reheat, simply fry in a pan using the second fry method or pop them into an oven heated at 190 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes. They should turn golden brown once ready. Do not thaw before frying.