Lemon Chicken

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Preparation info

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Appears in

Homestyle Chinese Cooking

Homestyle Chinese Cooking

By Yan-Kit So

Published 1997

  • About

Refreshing with a lemony taste, this Cantonese dish is very popular in Hong Kong, especially in the summer. The spiced salt is the authentic accompaniment, while the sauce, with its sweet-and-sour appeal to the palates universally, has gained too indomitable a foothold to be ignored.


  • 3 skinned and boned chicken breasts halves, about 12 ounces
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3-4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Spiced Salt


  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 6 turns white pepper mill
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine or medium-dry sherry
  • 2½-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Sweet-and-Sour Sauce

  • tablespoons lemon juice
  • tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon thin soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
  • teaspoons cornstarch
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  • Cut each chicken breast crossways into thirds. With either the broadside of a cleaver or a mallet, pound the meat 2-3 times to loosen the fibers. Put into a dish.
  • Marinate the chicken. Add the salt, sugar, pepper, wine or sherry, and lemon juice to the chicken. Leave to stand for 1 hour or longer, turning over from time to time and piercing the pieces for better absorption of the marinade.
  • Prepare the sauce. Mix together the lemon juice, sugar, salt, soy sauce, ketchup, cornstarch, and water. Pour into a saucepan (or a second wok) and slowly bring to a simmer, stirring as the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the oil.
  • Drain the chicken and put into another dish. Coat with the egg yolk and roll each piece in the cornstarch, shaking off any excess.
  • Heat the wok over a high heat until smoke rises. Add the oil and swirl it around. Add half of the chicken, piece by piece, and do not allow them to stick together. Fry over a medium heat for 1-1½ minutes each side, or until just cooked, crisp and golden on the outside. Remove to a serving plate. Fry the remainder in the same oil.
  • To serve, place both the spiced salt and the sweet-and-sour sauce, reheated at the last moment, on the table and let everybody help themselves.

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