My friends are always bugging me for “quick n’ easy” recipes. Then I give them a stir-fried chicken recipe, for instance, and they come back to me and say, “Hey, that chicken took me half an hour to chop, and the two tablespoons of garlic was a pain to mince.” So I’ll show them how I mince garlic in 10 seconds with my Chinese cleaver, and they say, “if we tried that, we’d lose our fingers”. What is a chef to do? Tell them to watch more Yan Can Cook, that’s what! See how the man handles his cleaver.
Having said that, I will offer this recipe with the caveat that it is quick n’ easy to make, but if you’re slow at wielding your knife, the preparation work may slow you down. But hey, it’s a nice dish that’s a change from the hot n’ spicy Thai stir-fries I’m so fond of. I know Swati wants this recipe really bad after she had dinner at Shiok.
This dish combines two citrus flavours – orange and lemon – with chicken breasts and just a touch of chilli that brings out the full flavours of the orange and lemon. It goes well with rice, or fried rice if you prefer. Wait, the chilli-basil fried rice recipe I gave earlier may be a good companion to this too. (Beware: it will be a strongly-flavoured meal.)
What you need
Boneless skinless chicken breasts – 150 gm
Peanut (groundnut) oil – 2 tbsp
Garlic – chopped – 2 tsp
Ginger – chopped – 2 tsp
Orange juice – 4 tbsp
Lemon juice (lemon, not lime) – 2 tbsp
Orange rind (zest) – 2 tsp
Lemon rind – 1 tsp
Light soy sauce – 2 tsp
Sugar – 1 tsp
Red chilli paste – 1/2 to 1 tsp (depending on your taste)
Spring onions (scallions) – chopped – 1 tbsp
Chicken stock or water – 4 tbsp (1/4 cup)
Sesame oil – 1/2 tsp
Cornflour (cornstarch) and water mixture – 2 tsp cornstarch to which 1 tbsp cold water has been added and mixed well.
How to make it
Cut the chicken breasts into thin strips. Mince both the orange and lemon rind.
Heat a wok till it’s nice and hot. Add the peanut oil and swirl it around the surface. 10 seconds later, add the ginger and garlic.
When the ginger and garlic turn fragrant, add the chicken strips. Wait one minute for the chicken to sear, flip the pieces with a spatula and let the other side sear for one more minute.
Now add all the other ingredients except the spring onions and the cornflour mixture. Bring it to a boil, simmer for another 2 minutes, then stir in the cornflour slurry and mix well. The sauce should thicken in about 10 seconds. Taste for the flavour balance, adding either sugar (more sweetness), orange/lemon juice (more tartness), or light soy sauce (more saltiness) as required.
Quickly add the spring onions, stir once, and serve on to a warm plate.
This dish can also be served as a cold starter. Just make it less saucy.
If you’re living in a tropical country and all you can find is round limes instead of lemons, cut the quantity of juice by half so that you don’t accidentally kill the dish. :)
If the orange juice you’ve got is a sweetened variety (quite common in India), leave the sugar out and make the dish. Add more sugar only if the dish needs it.
The chilli paste actually intensifies some of the flavours in this dish. It’s not there to make it “spicy’. Trust me on this one.
Light Soy sauce is one ingredient whose saltiness can vary a lot. Check your brand’s saltiness and then adjust. If in doubt, add less. You can always add more later if needed.
My recipe has a decidedly gingery background taste to it. If that puts you off, cut the ginger by half and make it.