Adapted from Tabi Eats’ Japanese-Style Lemon Chicken
Although I am a huge fan of wasting as little as possible in my kitchen, canning and jarring ingredients has for some reason always daunted me. But a week or two ago, I was faced with both a swarm of clementines that my future mother-in-law had bought while visiting, and with the knowledge that there was no way we would eat them all before they went bad. This spurred me to make my first ever preserves, using clementines, lemons, and a bit of onion and garlic (for savory applications, since I’m not a sweets person). Then the question was, what to do with them?
Answer: This fantastic recipe for Japanese-style fried chicken (karaage) in a clementine sauce. Crispy bites of luscious chicken thigh, coated in sweet and sour citrus. Better than restaurant-quality orange chicken, and for a fraction of the cost!
5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 TBSP soy sauce
½ cup cornstarch
½ cup flour
Neutral oil (such as canola), for frying
2 TBSP butter
1 jar clementine preserves
Sesame seeds, for garnish
2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
In a large bowl, combine the chicken with the eggs, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and soy sauce. Mix well with your hands, then add the cornstarch and toss well to coat. Next, add the flour and toss well to coat.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the clementine preserves, stirring constantly while the preserves heat through and mingle with the butter. Add sugar or honey to taste (if desired) so that the sauce is as sour or sweet as you like. Turn off the heat once it’s at your preferred consistency—aim for loose enough to easily pour, but thick enough to actually coat, rather than soak, the chicken when the time comes.
Add enough neutral oil to a large cast iron skillet to just cover the chicken pieces (about one inch’s worth) and heat to between medium and medium-high. You’ll know the oil’s hot enough when you can dip a plain chopstick into the oil and tiny bubbles rise off of it. Add the chicken to the pan (but don’t overcrowd it!) and use the chopstick to gently separate any parts that cling to one another. Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown; cut open one of the pieces to check that there’s no pink in the middle and you’ll know it’s done for sure. Taste the piece you cut—if you think it could use more salt, add salt to your clementine sauce. You will have to work in two or three batches; set finished pieces on a wire rack to drain while working on each subsequent batch. Once finished with the first round of frying, put the chicken pieces back into the hot oil for 30 seconds, to get it extra crispy, then drain again on the wire rack.
Place the chicken pieces in a large mixing bowl and drizzle the clementine sauce over them. Toss to coat. Serve hot, topped with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and sliced scallions.