Lemon Chicken with Golden Sauce

Lemon paired with chicken is popular around the world. This Japanese lemon chicken is sure to find a regular place on your menus because it is familiar but unique. Because it is steamed with lemon slices and vegetables, it is quick to prepare, and low-fat, and the simple (almost fool-proof, well see my notes) sauce is a beautiful garnish. This recipe is party-perfect with pink, green, and gold.

Egg-Vinegar Sauce

adapted from: The Japanese Kitchen
•250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit•
by Hiroko Shimbo
page 72
⅓ cup sauce

Have ready:
a pot of simmering water—the bowl in which you whisk the sauce should be able to float in the saucepan. I put a colander in the pan to keep the bowl more stable, yet still floating in the water.
a large bowl of cold water with ice cubes to stop the cooking quickly

  • 2 egg yolks (Ms. Shimbo asks for 3, but the sauce seems too thick)
  • ⅓ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons komezu (rice vinegar)

Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl. Add, one at a time, the salt, sugar, and rice vinegar. Float the bowl in a pan of simmering water over low heat, and whisk the mixture to prevent the eggs coagulating as they cook. When the sauce has thickened, put the bowl into ice water and continue whisking until the sauce is cool.

I messed this up because I put a too-small-bowl into a too-small-pan of water and didn’t stabilize the bowl. One should use a large enough bowl to actually float, or at least place a metal jar lid for the bowl to stand on. Of course as I whisked the egg-vinegar mixture, water from the pan sloshed into the bowl, and egg from the bowl spilled into the water. At that point, there was no hope of the sauce thickening. From making this recipe in the past, I knew that it is sort of similar to Hollandaise sauce, or with a stretch of imagination, mayonnaise. The rescue I applied: remove the runny messed up bowl from the pan, dump some into the sink, and add a few Tablespoons of mayo…

Steamed Chicken Breast
Tori no Sakamushi Kimizu-zoe

adapted from: The Japanese Kitchen
•250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit•
by Hiroko Shimbo
page 425
serves 4
  • two 5″ square kombu (kelp seaweed—the sort you make dashi with)
  • 2 boned chicken breast halves, with skin attached
  • salt
  • ¼ cup sake
  • lemon, sliced thin
  • Kimizu sauce
  • a few drops of tamari
  • Brussel sprouts, cut into quarters (original recipe: a dozen spears of asparagus)
    another suggestion: broccoli
  • add some ginkgo nuts for beauty and texture

Cut away the dry ends of the asparagus, peel off the tough skin on the bottom end, and cut them to fit your steaming dish
Cover the bottom of a metal or glass dish which will fit into your steamer with the kombu. Sprinkle with a little water.
Place the breast halves on the kombu. Pierce the skins with sharp bamboo skewer or a knife point. I’ve made this dish with skinless boneless breasts and it is much better and moister when you leave the skin on; remember, you are not adding butter or oil to cook with and you can always take the skin off when you serve.
Sprinkle with salt and rub it into the chicken. Let this sit for about 15 minutes.
Sprinkle the chicken with the sake. Cover the chicken with the lemon slices.
Get your steamer up to high steam production and start your rice and miso soup going.
Put the chicken into the steamer and cook over high heat for about 10 to 15 minutes—check that the chicken is cooked with a meat thermometer.
Remove the chicken and asparagus from the steamer. Arrange on plates—it’s easier to eat if you slice the breasts, but they should be tender enough to eat with only chopsticks…
Garnish with the kimizu sauce.

What has happened to chickens in the past few years? That is a 10-inch plate, and two breasts cover most of the plate. They were huge! Even three years ago, a chicken breast would serve one person, but these each served 2 people. Try to buy a 2½ pound chicken: the smallest whole chicken I can find is 3 ½ to 4 pounds! Good grief! And let’s not talk turkey! Ten pound turkeys are as rare as hen’s teeth…


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