The other night FHE said to me, “I could really use a Sunday Special,” referring to take-out from a hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant he frequented during our college years. I’ve never been to the place but by all accounts it was a bit sketchy and served hungry students cheap, Americanized Chinese food. I don’t recall what they used to order, but it bore no resemblance to any Chinese food I’d ever seen.
I imagine lemon chicken was one of their popular offerings. Strangely enough, this is one American creation that my family saw time and time again at “authentic” Chinese restaurants in the Bay Area. And it is one dish my Dad seemed to bring home with more regularity than others.
We tried our hand at some Americanized Chinese food tonight… strangely addicting, sweet and savory, but certainly nothing authentic. Something you’d likely see as a Sunday Special or on a buffet table =) But nonetheless quite delicious.
2 1/2lbs boneless-skinless chicken breasts (cut into 1” cubes)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
¼ cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch white pepper
oil (for frying)
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup chicken broth
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¾ teaspoon salt
- Place cut chicken breast pieces into a bowl and mix with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and ½ teaspoon of salt. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- To make the batter – beat 2 large eggs with ¼ cup of cornstarch, a pinch of white pepper and baking powder. Coat the chicken with the batter.
- Heat a wok or pan and pam- or deep-fry in batches until chicken is fully cooked. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
- Now, to make the lemon sauce – combine 1/3 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 cup chicken broth, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and ¾ teaspoon salt. Mix until well combined.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in your wok and stir in the lemon sauce mixture and heat until well mixed and sauce becomes clear. Pour the sauce over the chicken and mix.