Aside from time it takes for the chicken to bathe in a garlicky marinade, this dish only takes a few minutes of chopping and a few minutes of stir-frying, making it perfect for a quick weeknight meal. Its preparation goes much like most East Asian stir-fries, but the decidedly West Asian ingredients make for a tantalizing array of flavors that will lure your taste buds into rapt attention.
Intensely sour and spicy, your first reaction may be surprise, but this dish has a way of drawing you in. A bite of plump garlicky chicken begs for a forkful of tangy fiery vegetables that will make your face pucker and mouth smolder. This in turn will lead you back to the savory chicken in a cycle that doesn’t end until you’ve eaten every last morsel on your plate, along with any leftovers in the pan.
If this sounds like too much excitement for your taste buds to handle, you can of course cut back on the chili paste and lemon juice, but then you just have an ordinary stir-fry that looks like it ought to be served on a sizzling platter with tortillas.
Here are a few points that make this dish special. By marinating the chicken, in garlic, salt and spices, you ensure the flavor penetrates past the surface. Allowing the chicken (and marinade) to brown ensures plenty of complexity in the dish despite the simple preparation. Adding the lemon juice and stock to the hot parched mixture quickly burns off the excess liquid creating a flavorful glaze without boiling the meat.
Lemon Chili Chicken
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 450 grams (1 pound) chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 small green bell pepper, sliced
- 1 small red bell pepper, sliced
- 2 teaspoons red chili paste
- 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tablespoon sumac
- salt and pepper to taste
- Marinate the chicken in the olive oil, ground coriander, ground cumin, salt and garlic for at least 15 minutes or up to 24 hours.
- Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the chicken in a single layer. Fry undisturbed until browned. Flip the chicken pieces and brown the other side.
- Add the onions, and green and red bell peppers. Stir-fry until the vegetables are mostly cooked.
- Add the chili paste and flour and stir-fry until there is no liquid left.
- Turn up the heat to high, and then add the chicken stock and lemon juice and continue stir-frying until the sauce coats the chicken and there is very little liquid left in the pan.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste, and then sprinkle on the sumac. Serve with rice.
Yield: 3-4 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.