COOKING ADVENTURE #87: Asian Lemon Chicken Tenders
Anyone who is anyone can appreciate fried food in some shape or form. Usually, I prefer to think of fried goodies as “the lazy treat”, something that I can order out somewhere and enjoy without any cares in the world except for how said fried goodies will affect my skin. I was expecting the act of frying chicken tenders in my own kitchen to be somewhat of the same joyous feeling, a blissful extravaganza of fun eating and feeling as it I had not a care in the world. If only that were meant to be. Let’s be honest: frying food takes a lot more work than people make it sound. Unless you happen to own a deep fryer and have incredible disposable methods for all of that dirty oil, frying food at home is kind of a hassle. And for me, it took longer than it probably should have. Figures.
So, after discovering this delicious recipe for Asian Lemon Chicken Tenders via Pinterest, courtesy of DamnDelicious.net, I only had one reservation that kept me from doing the recipe for a week. I had never fried anything before and was nervous, almost convinced that something bad was going to happen. It meant entering my kitchen with a mentality that I was about to screw this recipe up in as worse a way as possible…basically saying this in the exact same tone that concedes defeat just before I flipped the switch to start the heat under my cup of vegetable oil in the frying pan. I’d assembled all of the ingredients, including the random ones to include in the mysterious Lemon Glaze. While the recipe says to cook these two things at the same time, I felt safer focusing on one at a time.
First off, I had a problem with my chicken and that was that it wasn’t thawed. It had been in the freezer all weekend and I had forgotten to take it out to thaw it. I ended up doing it the super lazy way: running it under hot water until the paper pouch came off the back and until I could break them all apart. This doesn’t mean that they weren’t still frozen in the middles though. Yeah. How many different times can we call me “lazy”? There aren’t enough, honestly. I pulled out a bowl of flour and mixed in some black pepper and salt. In another bowl, I poured some milk and squeezed some lemon into it. The directions wanted me to use buttermilk but because I don’t live on the Zuckerman’s Farm with Wilbur and Charlotte, I had to make due with this substitute.
I took the first four chicken tenders and rolled them around in the flour, then dipped them in the “buttermilk”, and then gave them another roll around in the flour. I’d set my vegetable oil on medium heat and it just sat there, unmoving like some kind of clear swamp. When I dropped my chicken tenders in, it was as if someone had said the magic word. The oil bubbled to life and spit all over the place…namely all over the stove top and me. Hooray. The recipe had told me to let the chicken tenders cook for three to four minutes on each side. I should have figured it would be more time because of the whole “still frozen in the middle” thing. But, I was impatient, hungry, and wanted to get the frying part over as quick as possible.
When I thought that the first four were done, I pulled them out of the oil and set them on a plate lined with a paper towel as I set the next batch in. This was about the time I began to notice the rather unpleasant aroma that came along with the oil frying. This smell soon overtook the apartment and made me feel as if I’d rubbed the stuff on my face. Totally gross feeling, let me tell you. As I readied to remove the next batch, I figured it might be a good idea to cut into the others to make sure they were cooked through. Imagine my surprise when they weren’t. I had to add them back into the skillet and let them fry more. It took probably more like six minutes on each side for these things to fully cook.
While all this was happening, I decided that there was no possible way I could burn down my apartment by accident and that it would be safe to tackle the lemon glaze. This was about the saddest part of this recipe, mostly because I didn’t pay any attention to how much of each ingredient I was supposed to add, nor did I want to make a ton of it. The recipe calls for a 1/2 cup of honey. That right away meant it was going to make much more than I would need. I ended up doing one of my famous moves that I like to call “sight measuring”. I basically just decided what seemed about right for each thing and left it at that. This included honey, soy sauce, peach juice (because I didn’t have pineapple like the recipe wanted), brown sugar, lemon juice, olive oil, and pepper. I left out the apple cider vinegar and the garlic powder. The former I didn’t have and the latter I honestly forgot. After combining everything and letting it boil into a sauce, I determined that I’d added too much soy sauce, and not enough lemon juice. But even after adding more lemon, I still couldn’t taste it in the sauce. I gave up.
Finally after the chicken was finally fried up, I placed them on a plate with some of the glaze poured into a little dipping cup. I think I was supposed to pour it on the chicken, but that seemed like it would just drown the flavor of the chicken out completely. And let’s be honest, my concoction was not as delicious as the original recipe’s. But, it didn’t stop me from devouring four chicken fingers with the dipping sauce that evening. It was pretty good but probably not something that I’d make again any time soon. I used more dishes than I’d care to admit and even though I was tempted to blast some triumphant music, I refrained. I’m sure I can do better with fried goodies. I’ll just have to find out some other time…far, far away from now.
Next week on Cooking Adventures, I’ll be taking a swing at making a good ole Shepard’s Pie, something I’ve never tackled before. Hopefully, this will be a recipe that I can keep coming back to and I’m really looking forward to all that mashed potato. Yum. It’s going to be the best.