By Dana Jacobi
Lemon chicken is legitimately Chinese. When making it for family and friends, Chinese cooks coat bite-size pieces of chicken breast with egg white and cornstarch, a tenderizing process called velveting, quickly cook the chicken in oil, then drain it very well. The lemon sauce is cooked separately and poured over the moist chicken.
For Americans, chefs batter and deep-fry the chicken, then top it with a gooey, tart-sweet sauce. Frequently this is served on a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce, added more for eye appeal than for health benefits.
Looking to cut calories from fat and to add a colorful, healthful amount of vegetables to this well-loved dish, I started by reaching for coconut oil. A little of this tropical oil goes a long way while it also infuses a dish with the flavor of fresh coconut. Just one tablespoon gives a pan of refried beans or a pot of collard greens a whole new accent. Add a dab of Thai curry paste or a jolt of Indian curry powder and you have alluring side dishes. It enlivens bland chicken breast, too, which explains why I chose it for this remake.
Although coconut oil is high in saturated fat, this recipe uses a small amount to keep the saturated fat lower. The high smoke point of this oil makes it a good choice when stir-frying, too.
Stir-frying the chicken, then cooking the broccoli in a very gingery lemon sauce keeps this a one-pot dish. For best results, take time to cut the chicken and broccoli into even-sized, smallish pieces.
Lemon Chicken with Broccoli and Ginger
Makes 4 servings.
- 1/2 cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. ground white or black pepper
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil, divided
- 1 lb. skinless and boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 Tbsp. grated or finely chopped ginger, plus 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 cup sliced leek, white and pale green parts, 2-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup thinly slice red onion, in crescents
- 3 cups broccoli florets, cut to bite-size
- 1/4 cup chopped scallions, green and white parts
- In measuring cup, combine broth, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Heat a wok over high heat. When wok is hot, drizzle half of the oil around sides, then lift and swirl wok to coat it. Add chicken, and stir-fry until no pink color shows, 2 minutes. Scoop out chicken and place on plate.
- Drizzle remaining oil into wok and swirl to coat. Add fresh ginger, ground ginger and garlic and stir fry until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add leek and onion and stir fry for 1 minute. Pour in broth mixture, cover wok and cook for 2 minutes until broccoli looks bright green. Return chicken to wok and stir fry until pieces are white in the center, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn contents of wok out onto serving platter. Sprinkle on scallions and serve.
Nutritonal Information Per Serving:
5 g fat
3 g sat fat
8 g carbohydrates
29 g protein
1 g fiber
452 mg sodium