Lemon Chicken Stir-Fry

Lemon Chicken Stir-Fry

Recipe from The One-Dish Chicken Cookbook by Mary Ellen Evans. Published in 2006 by Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc. © 2006 by Mary Ellen Evans.

Makes 4 servings

Lemon chicken most often appears as pieces of chicken battered, deep-fried and topped with a thick, lemony sauce. While tasty, it's tricky for the home cook to get just right, plus the dish is laden with calories.

By stir-frying strips of chicken and adding asparagus, then adding the lemon sauce toward the end of cooking, this recipe becomes a true one-pot—or one-wok—dish

1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon plus 2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon grated ginger, plus 2 teaspoons minced ginger
1/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons canola oil
Three 6- to 8-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut in 1/4-inch strips
1/2 pound thin asparagus spears, trimmed and cut in 2-inch lengths
2 large carrots, peeled and cut in 2 x 1/4-inch strips
1 small red onion, halved lengthwise and cut in 1/4-inch slices

1. Stir the lemon juice and honey together in a small bowl to dissolve the honey; stir in the lemon zest. Mash the 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic with the salt using the back of the tines of a fork to form a paste; stir the paste into the lemon mixture along with the grated ginger. Stir the chicken broth and cornstarch together in a separate small bowl.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil in a wok over high heat; swirl to coat the sides. Add 1 teaspoon of the remaining garlic and 1 teaspoon of the minced ginger to the wok and stir quickly. Add the chicken; stir-fry until the chicken is no longer pink in the center when cut with a knife, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove.

3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil to the wok; swirl to coat the sides. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon garlic and the remaining 1 teaspoon minced ginger; stir quickly. Add the asparagus, carrots, and onion; stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the lemon mixture and bring to a boil. Boil, stirring often, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Add the reserved chicken. Stir the cornstarch mixture to blend; pour into the wok. Bring to a boil; boil until thickened and clear, about 1 minute. Serve with rice to soak up the lemon sauce.

Make Ahead: Have everything prepped and assembled in advance.


You need to season the wok, but once this is done and you've stir-fried a few times, the wok becomes practically non-stick. No one describes this better than Grace Young in her book, The Breath of a Wok (Simon & Schuster, 2004). This is the essence of her advice:
Wash the wok with hot soapy water inside and out, using a scouring pad. Rinse and dry. Rub the inside of the wok with cut ginger root.

Stir-fry scallions and ginger in lots of flavorless oil over high heat for 5 minutes. The more oil you use the better the seasoning of the wok. Let contents cool in the wok for 30 minutes, then empty it and wipe with paper Towels. Repeat the process one more time.

Wash the wok with hot water and a sponge then dry it over a low burner. Every time you use the wok, cool it completely, then wash it the same way. Don't use soap. If something sticks rub it loose with coarse salt.

This seems like a lot of work to use a single pan, but I promise the wok will pay you back tenfold.