Double Lemon Chicken

Double Lemon Chicken

The universally loved crispy chicken — from Austrian schnitzel to Korean fried chicken to the westernized lemon chicken that you’d get at your local Chinese restaurants — is found in multiple corners of the world, and is therefore served on many tables. That lemon chicken is the inspiration for this dish, where a sweet lemony sauce coats crispy fried chicken pieces. This Middle Eastern version uses a cheater’s preserved lemon paste and plenty of fresh lemon to brighten it up. You’ll make a little more preserved lemon paste than you need; use it for salad dressing, toss it with roasted vegetables, or swirl it into soups. Serve this dish with some lightly cooked greens and plain white rice.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 4 persons



  1. Step 1

    Prepare the chicken: In a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, soy sauce, cornstarch (cornflour), 1/2 teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper just until there aren’t any lumps, about 30 seconds. Working one breast at a time, place the chicken between 2 pieces of parchment paper and use a meat mallet (or the bottom of a pan) to pound the chicken evenly so it’s a scant 1/2-inch/1-centimeter thick. Transfer to the egg white bowl and continue with the remaining. Stir everything together gently to coat, and refrigerate to marinate for at least an hour (or overnight if you’re getting ahead).
  2. Step 2

    Meanwhile make the preserved lemon paste: Add all the ingredients to a small, lidded saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the rinds start to look translucent and the juice has reduced by about half. Set aside to cool slightly, then transfer everything to a small food processor and blitz until you have a smooth, spreadable paste. (You should have about 1/4 cup.) Set aside 3 tablespoons for the sauce, then store the rest in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.
  3. Step 3

    Make the sauce: Add the 3 tablespoons preserved lemon paste, the stock, butter, garlic, sugar, turmeric and half the cumin to a medium saucepan, then place it over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until reduced by about a third. Measure out roughly 3 tablespoons of the sauce into a small bowl, then add the cornstarch (cornflour) and whisk until there are no lumps. Whisk this back into the sauce pot and cook for 1 minute, whisking continuously, until smooth and thickened slightly. Remove from the heat.
  4. Step 4

    Heat the oil in a large high-sided frying pan over a medium-high heat. Once hot (a sprinkle of cornstarch dropped into the oil should sizzle right away), fry two of the chicken breasts for 3 minutes per side, or until nicely browned and just cooked through. It should release easily from the skillet with a little help from a metal spatula. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and continue with the remaining 2 breasts. It might spit, so turn down the heat if needed. Wipe out the frying pan, add the sauce and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add back all the chicken breasts and cook for just 3 minutes, gently turning them halfway. Remove from the heat and stir in the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
  5. Step 5

    Transfer the chicken breasts (cut them into strips, if you like) to a large serving platter with a lip and pour the sauce all over. Sprinkle with the remaining cumin. In a small bowl, toss together the spring onion, cilantro and remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and spoon this all over.