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Lemon Chicken

1 whole chicken breast (1 lb) [or use 1/2 lb boneless]

1 1/2 tsp light soy sauce
2 tsp kaoliang wine or vodka [or dry sherry]
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt

1 egg white
1/4 cup water chestnut flour or cornstarch

1 lemon (juice and rind)
1 piece fresh ginger (1 1/2 inches long)
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup chicken broth (canned is fine)
1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tbsp water

shredded iceberg lettuce

3 cup peanut or corn oil
2 tsp peanut or corn oil
1 1/2 tsp kaoliang wine or vodka [or dry sherry]

Split breast in half lengthwise. Bone, then remove tendons and
skin. Split each half-breast lengthwise into 2 pieces. You will
have 1/2-lb boneless meat.

Combine marinade ingredients. Add to chicken and let stand 10 to
15 minutes.

Beat egg white until frothy, not stiff, in a shallow bowl. Put
water chestnut flour into a separate shallow bowl. Crush, using
the back of a spoon, until fine and powdery. Water chestnut flour
makes a crispier crust than cornstart, which may be substituted.

Cut the lemon in half lengthwise. Cut rind from one-half in
lengthwise strips, trying to remove only the zest, not the white,
or the sauce will be bitter. Then slice strips into shreds as fine
as possible. Grate the zest from the remaining half lemon; set
aside separately from shreds. Squeeze the juice from both halves
to make 2 T; reserve. Peel ginger and cut lengthwize into very
fine shreds to make the equivalent of 2 teaspoons; set aside with
lemon shreds. (The fibers run lengthwise down the root and knobs;
when shreds are cut with the fibers, they hold together better than
when cut across them.)

Slice across into 1/4- to 1/2-inch shreds. Rinse with water; drain
well, then chill to crisp for garnish.

Have oils and wine or vodka at hand.

Heat the 3 cups peanut oil to 325 deg F in a wok or deep fryer.
While oil is heating, dip the chicken strips in the egg white to
coat, then roll in water chestnut flour; shake off excess. One by
one add the chicken breast strips to the hot oil. Deep-fry about
5 minutes, turning to fry evenly. The coating should turn crisp,
but remain pale, not turn golden. Remove chicken and drain on
paper toweling. Keep warm in a 250 deg F. oven while preparing
Lemon Sauce. Pour off oil from wok.

Add 2 teaspoons fresh oil to the wok (or use a small saucepan).
Heat over medium heat. Add the ginger and lemon strips, sizzle 5
seconds. Add the lemon sauce ingredients and stir until thickened
and glossy. Remove from heat, and stir in the grated lemon peel
and the 1 1/2 teaspoons kaoliang or vodka.

Spread the crisp lettuce out on a small platter. Place chicken
strips on a cutting board and slant-slice across in 1/3- to 1/2-inch
slices. Transfer with Chinese cleaver to the shredded lettuce,
retaining the original shape. Pour the hot Lemon Sauce over the
chicken and serve immediately to preserve the crispness. Yield:
one order, or 4 small appetizer servings.

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