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Discover Tangy and Sweet Flavours of Chinese Lemon Sauce Recipe

If you're a fan of Chinese cuisine, you're probably familiar with the tangy and sweet flavour of Chinese lemon sauce. This versatile sauce is a staple in many Chinese dishes, particularly in classic Chinese takeout recipes such as Chinese lemon chicken. While it's easy to buy Chinese lemon sauce at the grocery store, making it from scratch is surprisingly simple and can elevate your home-cooked Chinese dishes to the next level.

A wok sizzles as lemon zest and juice are added to a bubbling mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and cornstarch. The aroma of citrus fills the air as the sauce thickens to a glossy, golden finish

To make Chinese lemon sauce, you'll need a few essential ingredients such as fresh lemon juice, zest, sugar, and soy sauce. Once you have the ingredients, the sauce can be made in just a few minutes on the stovetop. The result is a bright and flavourful sauce that pairs well with chicken, seafood, and vegetables. If you're feeling adventurous, you can even try using seafood in the recipe, such as shrimp or scallops, for a delicious twist on the classic Chinese lemon chicken.

Key Takeaways

  • Chinese lemon sauce is a tangy and sweet sauce that is a staple in many Chinese dishes, particularly in classic Chinese takeout recipes such as Chinese lemon chicken.
  • Making Chinese lemon sauce from scratch is simple and requires just a few essential ingredients such as fresh lemon juice, zest, sugar, and soy sauce.
  • Chinese lemon sauce pairs well with chicken, seafood, and vegetables, and can be used to elevate a variety of home-cooked Chinese dishes.

Essential Ingredients

A wok sizzles with soy sauce, sugar, and lemon juice, creating a tangy aroma. Ginger and garlic add depth to the sauce as it thickens

When it comes to making the perfect Chinese Lemon Sauce, there are a few essential ingredients that you need to have on hand. These ingredients are what give the sauce its signature tangy, sweet and sour flavour. In this section, we'll take a closer look at the components that make up this delicious sauce, as well as how to prepare the chicken for the dish.

Lemon Sauce Components

The main ingredient in Chinese Lemon Sauce is, of course, lemon juice. You'll need freshly squeezed lemon juice to give the sauce its tangy flavour. You can also add lemon zest to the sauce to give it an extra boost of lemony goodness. Other ingredients that you'll need for the sauce include chicken broth, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper.

To make the sauce, you'll need to combine the chicken broth, soy sauce, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper in a saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly. Once the sauce has thickened, remove it from the heat and set it aside.

Chicken Preparation

To prepare the chicken for Chinese Lemon Sauce, you'll need boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper. You can also add a little bit of cornstarch to the chicken to help it crisp up when you fry it.

Next, you'll need to dip the chicken in a mixture of egg, flour, and baking powder. This will give the chicken a light and crispy coating when you fry it. Heat up some oil in a wok or frying pan, and fry the chicken until it's golden brown and crispy.

Once the chicken is cooked, you'll need to toss it in the lemon sauce until it's fully coated. Garnish the dish with sesame seeds and sliced green onions before serving.

If you're feeling adventurous, you can also try adding some seafood to the dish. Shrimp or prawns are a great addition to Chinese Lemon Sauce and can be prepared in the same way as the chicken. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly to ensure that the seafood is cooked through.

Cooking Techniques

A wok sizzles with garlic and ginger, as a chef pours in a mixture of lemon juice, sugar, and soy sauce, creating a fragrant and tangy Chinese lemon sauce

Marinating the Chicken

Marinating the chicken is the key to achieving a delicious and flavourful Chinese lemon chicken. To marinate the chicken, you will need boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cornstarch, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, freshly squeezed lemon juice, lemon zest, minced garlic, ground ginger, and water.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and add the chicken. Make sure to coat the chicken evenly with the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes. For best results, marinate the chicken for up to 2 hours.

Achieving Crispy Texture

To achieve a crispy texture, you need to fry the chicken in a wok or a large pan. Heat canola oil in a wok or a large pan over medium-high heat. The oil temperature should be around 375°F (190°C).

Dredge the marinated chicken in all-purpose flour or batter before frying it. This will help to create a crispy coating. Fry the chicken in small batches until it is golden brown and crispy.

Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the wok or pan and place it on a paper towel to drain any excess oil.

Sauce Preparation

The sauce is what gives Chinese lemon chicken its signature citrus flavour. To prepare the sauce, you will need chicken broth, soy sauce, lemon juice and zest, sugar, cornstarch, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper.

In the same wok or pan, add butter and melt it. Then add lemon juice, sugar, chicken broth, salt, and cornstarch. Whisk everything together and cook until the sauce has thickened and is smooth.

Add the fried chicken back into the wok or pan and toss it with the sauce until it is evenly coated. Garnish with sliced green onions and lemon slices.

Seafood can be a great addition to this recipe. You can use shrimp or scallops instead of chicken. However, make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly as seafood cooks much faster than chicken.

Chinese lemon chicken is easy to make and has a fragrant citrus flavour. With these cooking techniques, you can achieve a crispy texture and a delicious sweet and sour glaze.

Serving Suggestions

A plate of crispy fried chicken covered in tangy Chinese lemon sauce, garnished with sliced green onions and sesame seeds

Accompaniments

Chinese Lemon Chicken is a versatile dish that can be served with a variety of accompaniments. One of the most popular options is to serve it with steamed white rice or fried rice. The rice helps to balance the tangy and sweet flavours of the lemon sauce. You can also serve it with chicken lo mein or broccoli for a more filling meal.

If you are looking for a lighter option, you can serve Chinese Lemon Chicken with a side salad. This will add some freshness to the meal and help to cut through the richness of the sauce. You can also add some lemon zest to the salad dressing to complement the lemon flavour in the chicken.

Seafood lovers can also enjoy Chinese Lemon Chicken by serving it with shrimp or scallops. The tangy and sweet flavours of the lemon sauce pair well with the delicate taste of seafood. You can also add some green onions and lemon slices as a garnish to enhance the presentation and flavour of the dish.

Presentation Tips

To make your Chinese Lemon Chicken look more appetising, you can add some garnishes to the plate. Sprinkle some sesame seeds and green onions over the chicken to add some colour and texture. You can also serve it with lemon slices to enhance the citrus flavour.

If you are serving Chinese Lemon Chicken to guests, you can make it look more impressive by arranging the chicken on a bed of steamed white rice or fried rice. You can also serve it in a large platter with some broccoli or other vegetables on the side.

When reheating leftovers, make sure to reheat the chicken and sauce separately. This will help to maintain the crispy texture of the chicken. You can also add some extra lemon juice or zest to the sauce to refresh the flavour.

Storage and Reheating

A hand pours Chinese lemon sauce into a glass jar for storage. Another hand labels the jar with a marker

After making your Chinese lemon chicken, you may have some leftovers that you would like to store for later. You can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. However, it's best to eat it fresh because the chicken's crispy coating tends to soften up quickly.

When reheating, you can use a frying pan on medium heat and reheat the chicken. To help loosen the sauce, add a few tablespoons of water. Alternatively, you can microwave the chicken for 2-3 minutes.

If you anticipate leftovers, it's best to leave some of the crispy chicken unsauced and store it separately. This way, you can reheat the chicken and sauce separately and toss them together before serving.

If you want to add some seafood to your Chinese lemon chicken recipe, you can use prawns or shrimps. Simply cook them in the same way you would cook the chicken, and add them to the sauce before serving. The tangy lemon sauce pairs well with the sweetness of the seafood, making for a delicious and refreshing meal.

Alternative Variations

A wok sizzles with garlic, ginger, and chili, as a splash of soy sauce and a squeeze of lemon create a fragrant Chinese lemon sauce

If you're looking to switch things up with your Chinese lemon sauce recipe, there are a few variations you can try out. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Substitutes and Add-ins

  • Vegetable oil: If you don't have vegetable oil on hand, you can substitute it with canola oil or peanut oil. Just make sure to choose an oil with a high smoke point for deep frying.
  • Chicken thigh or chicken tenders: While chicken thighs are usually used for Chinese lemon chicken, you can also use chicken tenderloins for a lighter option. Just be careful not to overcook them, as they can dry out quickly.
  • Crispy coating: For an extra crispy coating, you can try using a wet batter made with cornstarch and egg whites. This will give your chicken a light and airy texture.
  • White pepper: If you're looking to add a little more heat to your dish, you can substitute black pepper with white pepper. It has a slightly different flavour profile and is commonly used in Chinese cuisine.
  • Butter, sherry and white vinegar: Some recipes call for these ingredients to be added to the lemon sauce. This can give the sauce a richer flavour and help to balance out the acidity of the lemon juice.
  • Seafood: If you're feeling adventurous, you can try using seafood instead of chicken. Shrimp or scallops would work well with the lemony sauce. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

When it comes to making Chinese lemon sauce, there are plenty of variations to try out. Whether you're in the mood for something spicy like kung pao chicken or something sweet like honey chicken, you can easily adapt the recipe to suit your taste. Don't be afraid to experiment with different ingredients and techniques to create your own unique version of this classic dish. And remember, the key to a great Chinese lemon sauce is using fresh lemons and high-quality ingredients from your local grocery store.

Frequently Asked Questions

A steaming wok sizzles with fragrant garlic and ginger, as a chef adds tangy lemon juice and soy sauce to create a glossy Chinese lemon sauce

How do you whip up a quick lemon sauce for chicken?

Making a quick lemon sauce for chicken is easy. You will need to mix chicken broth, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Heat a pan and add the mixture to it. Stir the mixture continuously until it thickens. Once the sauce is thick enough, remove it from the heat and set it aside.

What ingredients go into a classic Chinese lemon sauce?

A classic Chinese lemon sauce is made up of chicken broth, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper. These ingredients are mixed together and cooked until the sauce thickens.

Is there a ready-made lemon sauce available for chicken dishes?

Yes, there are ready-made lemon sauces available in stores. However, making your own lemon sauce is easy and gives you the freedom to adjust the ingredients to your liking.

How do you make your lemon sauce thick and glossy for chicken?

To make your lemon sauce thick and glossy, you will need to mix cornstarch with water and add it to the sauce. Cook the sauce until it thickens to the desired consistency. You can also add more cornstarch if the sauce is too thin.

What's the calorie count for a portion of Chinese lemon chicken?

The calorie count for a portion of Chinese lemon chicken can vary depending on the recipe and serving size. On average, a serving of Chinese lemon chicken contains around 300-400 calories.

Does lemon chicken actually originate from traditional Chinese cuisine?

The origins of lemon chicken are unclear, but it is widely believed to be a dish created by Chinese immigrants in North America. However, it has become a popular dish in Chinese restaurants around the world.

If you're feeling adventurous, you can also try adding some seafood to your lemon chicken recipe. Shrimp or prawns are great options that pair well with lemon sauce. Simply add them to the sauce and cook until they are pink and cooked through.