Sichuan honey-lemon chicken Recipe – Good Food

September 20, 2022
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Growing up, before the days of Uber Eats, takeout glory lived three blocks away in the form of my local suburban Chinese restaurant Seventh Heaven. This recipe is an amalgamation of my alternating favourites, honey chicken and lemon chicken, with a wisp of Sichuan pepper for mouth-warming heat and cut-through. It’s sweet, it’s sticky and it’s childhood memories in a bowl. You can make the sauce ahead of time, just ensure it is at room temperature for serving.
650g boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3-4 tbsp ricebran oil (or other flavourless oil)
Marinade
1 tbsp sesame oil
juice of ½ lemon
1tsp sea salt flakes
1 tbsp caster sugar
¼ cup Shaoxing wine
1 chicken stock cube crumbled
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp fennel seeds, ground
½ tsp Sichuan peppercorns*, ground
Honey-lemon sauce
350g honey
juice and zest of 2 lemons
2 tbsp cornflour mixed with a dash of water to make a slurry
To serve
steamed white rice
1 spring onion, chopped
½ tsp roughly crushed Sichuan peppercorns*
1-2 tbsp sesame seeds (white or black or both)
1. If time is on your side, it’s wondrous to marinate the chicken overnight. I’ve also done a quick dump and turn in the marinade and been just as happy, so either way – add the chicken thighs and marinade ingredients to a bowl, turning the chicken to coat. Bring to room temperature before cooking.
2. To make the sauce, add the honey, lemon juice and zest to a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring to prevent catching, until the honey has warmed and it is easy to incorporate the juice and zest through the thick honey – it will begin to foam a little. Remove from the heat and stir through the slurry until combined. Return to the heat and continue to stir until the mixture is the consistency of golden syrup – you want it to still be runny but gloriously thick. Set aside until ready to serve.
3. Place a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the ricebran oil and once hot, add the chicken thighs and fry until browned (2-3 minutes each side). Reduce the heat to medium and continue frying until cooked through, another 5-7 minutes depending on thickness.
4. While hot, transfer with tongs to a chopping board and slice the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces. Add these to a large bowl with the honey lemon sauce, gently turning to coat.
5. Add chicken to bowls of steamed white rice and top with the sliced spring onions, Sichuan pepper and sesame seeds and serve.
*If you can’t find Sichuan peppercorns, which are available at many supermarkets and Asian grocers, substitute with white pepper.

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