Lemon Chicken: The Westernized Version

Chicken breasts in batter tend to be dried out and uninteresting. I have altered this classic Westernized version by using thighs instead of breast meat for a tastier dish. Many Chinese chefs use potato flour to enhance crispiness.


  • 450 g (1 lb) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • Groundnut oil, for deep-frying

For the Batter

  • 65 g ( oz) potato flour or cornflour
  • 35 g ( oz) unbleached plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons groundnut oil
  • 120 ml (4 fl oz) water

For the Sauce

  • 120 ml (4 fl oz) Chinese Chicken Stock or store-bought fresh stock
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon crushed fermented black beans
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon finely sliced garlic
  • 2 dried red chillies, crushed
  • tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour blended with 1 teaspoon water


Cut the chicken into 2.5 cm (1 in) pieces and evenly coat them with the salt, pepper, sesame oil, soy sauce, Shaoxing rice wine and cornflour.

Mix the batter ingredients in a medium-sized bowl with a whisk and beat until smooth.

Heat a wok or deep pan until it is hot and swirl in the oil. When the oil is slightly smoking, turn the heat down. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and stir them into the batter. Lift the chicken from the batter with a slotted spoon and deep-fry the chicken pieces for 3 minutes in several batches. Place the deep-fried chicken pieces on a tray lined with kitchen paper to drain.

Mix all the sauce ingredients, except the cornflour mixture, in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Then, in a slow drizzle, add the cornflour mixture, stirring all the while.

Place the deep-fried chicken on a platter, drizzle the sauce over and serve at once.