Why ginger ale? For the sweetness and the bubbliness. Sweetness complements the citrusy lemon and balances the heat of the pepper and cayenne. Instead of sharp flavors, you get a smooth blend that rolls beautifully on your tongue.
The bubbly the ginger ale plus a little baking powder equal a light thin crust instead of a doughy one. Thin enough to crackle with every bite but also robust enough to catch all the sauce and make it stick on the surface of the chicken.
We used to make our own lemon pepper seasoning at home, and that was what was used in this recipe. But you can buy the commercial kind from most groceries. Grocery-bought lemon pepper seasoning comes with or without salt. If with salt, the amount of salt varies. The amount you need for this recipe depends on the salt content of your seasoning.
Lemon pepper chicken
- 6 to 8 chicken thigh fillets
To season the chicken
For the batter
To fry the chicken
- 3 to 4 cups cooking oil
For the lemon pepper sauce
- ½ cup sugar
- juice from one lemon (about 4 to 6 tablespoons)
- ½ teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
- Wipe the chicken fillets dry with paper towels.
- Cut into strips about half an inch wide.
- In a resealable bag, shake together all the ingredients for the seasoning.
- Add the chicken, seal the bag and shake well. Make sure that every piece of chicken is coated with the seasonings.
- Marinate the chicken in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- In a large bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the batter.
- Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan. Ideally, the depth of the oil should be at least three inches. How much oil you will actually need depends on the size and shape of your wok or frying pan.
- Take the chicken out of the fridge. Dump into the batter. Mix lightly but thoroughly.
- When the oil is hot (350F if you’re using a thermometer), drop the chicken fingers one by one into the wok or frying pan. COOK IN BATCHES of eight to ten pieces to make sure that the temperature of the oil does not drop tremendously.
- Cook the chicken fingers in the hot oil for four to eight minutes, flipping them over halfway through the cooking time.
- Scoop out the chicken, move to a rack or on a stack of paper towels.
- Cook the next batch, and so on, and so forth, until all the chicken fingers have been fried.
- In a small sauce pan, stir together the sugar, lemon juice and lemon pepper seasoning with two tablespoons water. Set the pan over medium heat and cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the liquid is syrupy. It should take four to five minutes.
- Place the fried chicken fingers in a large bowl and pour in the sauce. Cover the bowl with a plate and shake to coat all chicken pieces with sauce.