Lemon Chicken

Running around with people from an embassy is such a different world from what I usually experience in my travels.  And, on my first night in Nauru, three of us from the U.S. Embassy in Fiji met up with some representatives from Nauru’s Directorate of Youth Affairs, who overlooked a lot of projects for young people.  The meal was at my hotel, one of two or three on the island, and I’m guessing it was one of the nicer restaurants available.

Our table for seven had the largest lazy Susan that I’ve ever seen.  When the orders were placed, I didn’t know the plan was to spin the dishes with Susan and let everyone sample to their heart’s content.  But, I soon deliciously made that realization.  There was absolutely no question which dish was the best of the evening, and it was not the one I selected.  Nope, my favorite dish in Nauru was lemon chicken.

According to my research, about eight percent of Nauru’s population is Chinese.  It was my observation that they ran a good percentage of the island’s shops and restaurants.  Lemon chicken was a Chinese import. Nobody I met from China spoke enough English to give me a recipe.  Nobody native to the island knew how to cook it.  They appeared to fry everything but not with lemons.

So, I searched online.  It may not be the exact taste I found in Nauru, but it’s going to delight your taste buds as well as your family and friends.

Lemon Chicken
Yaren, Nauru by way of China

10 oz chicken, cut small
¼ cup corn starch
¼ cup flour
oil for frying

½ Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs corn starch
½ Tbs wine (optional)

3 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs sugar
5 Tbs water
1 tsp cornstarch
salt to taste
Cut your chicken up in small pieces, but don’t go crazy dicing it into little cubes.  Then, marinate the chicken for thirty minutes.  I usually don’t have the patience for things like this in the kitchen.  Be organized.  Prepare in advance.  It’s going to be worth it with this dish.  So, again I say, marinate.

While the chicken bits are soaking up marinated flavoring, prepare your sauce and set it aside.  There should be time for coffee, tea, or any other favorite brew before the thirty minutes are up.  It’s your reward for being organized.

Breaded or even fried chicken has always been one of life’s mysteries to me.  I didn’t know how to do it.  Well, it just had to be learned for this dish.  So, when the thirty minutes are up, coat your chicken bits with a mixture of cornstarch and corn flour.  Those little babies are ready for frying.  Use a wok, use a frying pan, use whatever you like with two inches of oil to fully fry ‘em up in a pan until they are golden brown.

When the chicken is cooked, place the bits on a paper towel to soak up some of the excess grease.  Yep, trying to eat a little healthy.

Heat up the sauce ingredients in a frying pan and bring all that deliciousness to a boil.  Toss in that degreased chicken and let those bits soak up a new taste.  My dish had little slices of lemon in the sauce.  You could sprinkle in some sesame seeds for an artistic touch.  Of course, it always tastes better if you have a view of the ocean as I did for this dish.

It’s Chinese food.  It’s served with rice.  There are no options.  Enjoy.