Kapow chicken

Wake up tired tastebuds with the punchy lemon, chilli and garlic in this easy one-pan chicken dish.


This became known as “kapow chicken” in my kitchen because all the flavours are wound up to 11 and really do pack a punch. Part of the reason is their quantity – more of everything than seems reasonable – and partly because of the way it’s cooked. While “slow” and “frying” might not be a combination that you’ll hear very often, here it’s the key to success: teasing out the chicken’s fat at an achingly slow pace, infusing it with a ton of flavour and giving you crisp, deeply golden skin and luscious meat in the process.

It’s very much a storecupboard way with chicken thighs, too, handy for waking up tired tastebuds (and noses – it smells divine as it cooks) in the middle of the week. Even with the slow-frying method, it takes less than 30 minutes from go to whoa, so it’s perfectly manageable when time is tight.

Cook’s tip: There are couple of different cuts for chicken thighs; choose the ones with a single bone. I find a piece of preserved lemon made from a quarter of a lemon produces the 2 tablespoons of chopped rind I call for here.

I most often serve this by taking to it with my Chinese cleaver – the most dramatic of all knives – and thwacking each thigh into three or four pieces. With a bowl of rice to absorb the delicious juices and some soy-spiked bok choy, it’s a simple and very satisfying dinner.

Kapow chicken


Serves 2.

4 chicken thighs (skin on, bone in)
1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
2 small red chillies
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons preserved lemon
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 lemon
sea salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper

Choose a frying pan or skillet that will accomodate all the thighs snuggly. Over medium-low heat, warm enough grapeseed oil (or whatever oil you cook with) to create a thin film.

Lightly season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and place them, skin down, in the pan. Let them cook for about 15 minutes (or more, depending on your heat) until the skin is crisp and golden. Keep the heat low. A good way to judge if you've hit the right temperature is by listening: if you can hear sizzling, turn it down; there should be a faint hiss and crackle from the pan but not much more.

Meanwhile, chop the chillies and garlic very finely. Rinse the preserved lemon, scraping out any pulp, pat dry and chop finely.

When the chicken is properly browned on the skin side it will have shrunk down and rendered out its fat. Add the chillies, garlic and honey into the spaces between the thighs, let it cook for a minute or two, then turn the thighs over.

Turn the heat up to medium-high and let the chicken cook for about 10 minutes or until it is properly cooked through. Baste the skin side occasionally with a spoon while it cooks.

When the chicken is cooked, remove from the pan and keep warm under a foil tent. Add the preserved lemon to the pan, stirring until it softens, then the chopped parsley and juice from half the fresh lemon. Plate the chicken and spoon over the juices from the pan, serving with wedges made from the other half of the fresh lemon.