Combinations 10: Lemon Chicken
It's been a while since Eating Leeds last participated in a Combinations exercise (well, that's a formal, blogging event type of one) but somehow, this month, it's been slotted in. Hosted by Andrew, over at Spittoon, this month he chose lemon chicken with pak choi. Hmm, I managed half of this dish, because I had so many vegetables it didn't feel right to start buying pak choi too. Also, I'm not the biggest fan of Chinese food, so I guess it's a curious month for me to rejoin the fray.
The original recipe (rather lazily, in my opinion!) calls for packets of lemon sauce. Tut, tut, tut! I figured it couldn't be too hard to make a lemon sauce and trawled the internet for a recipe. Nothing definitive popped out, so I made it my way.
Since I was only cooking for two, I very much did the quantities by feel. In a small saucepan I put some water, added probably about a teaspoon of sugar, followed by about 2 teaspoons of honey. I crumbled in half a chicken stock cube and let it all dissolve over the heat. Then I added 3 or 4 very fine slices of lemon (lemon rind would probably go well) and some finely sliced ginger, before adding in lemon juice, tasting and adding, until it tasted lemony rather than sugary or like stock. At that point, I decided I didn't like the taste and I definitely didn't like the smell. I thought I'd let Andy make the call on the sauce, put it to one side and go on with everything else.
I was supposed to serve the chicken with steamed pak choi, but there were lots of left over veggies, so I decided that the side dish would be stir fried noodles. The oil was duly heated in the wok, one sliced onion was added, along with two cloves of garlic and some finely sliced ginger. As that started to soften, in went one (very hot!) dried bird's eye chilli. Then I added a quarter of a red cabbage, finely sliced, half a sweet potato (diced and boiled - left over from the night before) and half a courgette, sliced in strips. I let that cook for a bit with the lid on, so the cabbage could soften, before adding some udon noodles, a splash of soy sauce and a splash of mirin. Just before serving, my sous chef (Andy!) added some sliced spring onions and we finished the stir fry off with chopped chives.
The chicken part was super easy! I heated some oil, ready for deep frying. While it was warming up, I finely sliced the chicken breast and made a thin batter of equal proportions of plain and corn flour and cold soda water. The chicken was dipped into the batter and went straight into the oil and was cooked until golden. I had to do this in quite small batches, so I had the oven on and a plate with paper for draining off any excess oil.
And that was it! We served the noodles on hot plates, but left the chicken on one plate and passed the lemon sauce separately. Andy sampled the sauce and it passed his taste test. What was interesting, was that the sauce went really well with the chicken - I was actually spooning extra on!
Now ... what to drink? I chose a Babich 2006 Sauvignon Blanc. This was driven by several factors: some internet based research suggested a sav blanc would go well with an oriental style chicken dish, the night before we had a sauvignon blanc so it was a good comparison (that's a whole other story and you'll have to wait for it!) and the Babich had scored 90 points in a recent Wine Spectator Sips and Tips newsletter. So ... how did it go? Very well.
The wine had a strong hint of pineapple on the nose with lots of citrus up front on the palate. It was a really crisp wine, and at about £8 a bottle we thought it was fantastic value. It actually went a lot better with the spicy noodles than with the chicken, although as a whole package the meal did really work.
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