Zesty Lemon Chicken Recipe

Every Chinese restaurant has its own version of lemon chicken. Most sauces have the sweetness and color of a lemon meringue pie, which is unfortunate. I believe that the natural lemon flavor should come through. This recipe is light as well because the chicken is not batter-dipped.


6 Tablespoons mild-flavored honey
8 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon pulp
2 Tablespoons Hoisin sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
¾ pound boneless, skinless medium sized chicken breasts, sliced in half horizontally.
½ cup cornstarch
½ cup flour
1/3 cup cooking oil
½ teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds


Whisk the honey, lemon juice, zest and pulp together in a small bowl until blended.
Stir in the Hoisin sauce, pour into a small saucepan; set aside.
In a small bowl, combine egg with the salt and white pepper.
In a plastic bag, marinate the chicken in 3 Tablespoons of the lemon juice for a half hour at room temperature.
Combine ½ cup cornstarch with ½ cup flour.
Lightly coat the chicken with the cornstarch/flour mix.
Dip the chicken into the egg mixture and coat in the cornstarch again.
Let it stand for 5 minutes. Shake off the excess cornstarch prior to cooking.
In a wok, heat the oil until hot. Cook the chicken, a couple pieces at a time, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side.
Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat; add the cornstarch solution and cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens.
Cut the chicken across the grain into 1/2-inch slices.
Place the chicken on a serving plate on a bed of shredded lettuce.
Pour the sauce on top and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

About Rabbi Michael Sternfield

Michael Sternfield has been a Reform rabbi for 40 years, most recently serving at Chicago Sinai Congregation from 1995 until 2013. He served for 20 years as spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Israel in San Diego, and briefly as the leader of the Durban, South Africa Progressive Jewish Congregation during South Africa’s historic transition to multi-racial democracy. He is now based in Los Angeles, California.