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Near to where I work there is a small store run by a Korean couple where I often go for lunch. They offer a selection of Korean and Japanese food including the Korean classic Bibimbap, sushi, cold rolls and various options of stir-fry style dishes made while you wait. All the food is really great and the sushi is really excellent, but by far my favourite, which I have often, is Lime and Mint Chicken.

Lime and Mint Chicken is truly delicious and rather unlike any other dish I’ve had. While the concept seems like a pretty simple stir-fry – meat, vegetables, stick it all on top of rice, what can you do with a stir-fry - the secret to it is of course in that tangy, slightly sweet and sour and mint flavoured sauce, which just seems to be the perfect combination. From the very first time I had it I was hooked, thinking, naively as it turned out, that I could reproduce it. Consequently Ms Onion has tried variants of this many times as I persevered trying to get it right, but thankfully even the attempts that were less than successful were at least edible. I even got her to come to lunch and sample the real thing so that I had a second opinion.

limemintchicken1 Prepare the vegetables and combine the sauce ingredients. Isn’t it a great colour?

Based on the first tasting I had a crack at what I thought was in it. Needless to say that was wrong, but not miles off. I included fish sauce in it, which gave it too much of a Thai taste. Some subsequent versions had too much lime – on one attempt I went crazy and put in both the juice and rind of two limes, which while edible was not much more than that.

limemintchicken2 Fry the chicken in the wok in batches

The final version, which I think is very close, turned out to be pretty simple after all. A couple of things I learned along the way is that it needs that sugar to provide the sweetness over the sour lime hit, and perhaps most importantly it needs lots of mint. I concede that ‘a large handful’ is a somewhat imprecise measurement, but the mint content really does make the dish. And it’s another way to use up excess chewed mint.

limemintchicken3 Stir-fry all the vegies, add the chicken and fold in the mint

Gochujang is a Korean red pepper paste. It’s pretty readily available in Asian food stores and even some supermarkets now (the one I shop at sells it) and it comes in small tubs rather like a butter or margarine container. If you can’t get it or don’t think you will use it (it has a reasonable shelf life) substitute in some chilli powder, but note this dish is not meant to be fiery hot. It can be of course if you like it that way, but if you use Gochujang in the quantity I supply here it will just have a subtle spicy kick.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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Lime and Mint Chicken Stir-fry

Cooking: About 10 minutes
Serves: 4

Lime Sauce
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean red pepper paste, or substitute 12 teaspoon chilli powder)
  • 1 12 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 chicken thigh fillets, sliced into 5mm slices
  • 1 onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 capsicum, sliced into 2-3mm slices
  • 1 small eggplant, quartered, sliced thinly
  • 1 small zucchini, halved, sliced thin diagonally
  • 1 bunch or large handful of mint, leaves picked (need lots)
  • Steamed rice, to serve
  • For the sauce, mix together all the ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Heat 12 tbls oil in a wok over high heat, add half the chicken and 1 tbls sauce mix and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until browned. Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken, wiping out the wok with a paper towel in-between.
  • Reduce heat to medium, add another 12 tbls oil and the onion and stir fry until softened. Add garlic and vegetables and stir fry for a further 2-3 minutes.
  • Return chicken to pan and stir fry for additional few minutes until cooked through.
  • Gently fold in the mint, add the remaining sauce mix and stir gently for 1-2 minutes until heated through.
  • Serve with rice.