Lemon Chicken with Asparagus

June 18, 2015 • Main Dishes, Poultry, Seasons, Spring, Summer

Hello readers. I spent the first ten days of this month traveling from Alaska to the country of Haiti and back. Our group of 16 helped build a church in a remote village on the island of La Gonave and we continue to endeavor to provide a source of clean water for that same community.

IMG_2103IMG_1777 IMG_2175

While there, you could often find me helping prepare food (where I learned to make a fresh goat from start to finish the way the locals do from a formidable Haitian matriarch named Mama Elyse pictured above), behind the camera capturing the people and the moments, digging up my college French in an attempt to speak Creole, spending time with the children and the team members, or painting walls (and myself in the process). We traveled on several planes, a large box truck, in the bed of a tiny pickup truck crammed full of people and supplies, on a handmade sailboat on the Caribbean that very closely resembled a pirate ship, and on the back of a motorcycle with two other people and no helmets on a treacherous, rocky, steep thing that could only sometimes be called a road.IMG_1988IMG_1893

The mangoes were ripe and the rice and beans were daily. There was a chicken nesting in the outhouse, donkeys and goats on the road, and cockroaches and tarantulas scurrying the ground. The rooster crowed, the generator hummed, the donkey brayed, the plywood clapped together to make rhythm and song, the nails were driven into the roof, the jump rope slapped the ground.  The weather was hot and humid, the water was the bluest blue and the warmest warm, and the people were absolutely beautiful – hardworking, curious, resourceful, and full of hope and laughter and music.

There’s not meant to be an easy segue here – from my experience in Haiti to returning to life here as a food writer. There’s no way to go to a remote place where the people have little food and no clean water and not have it make you pause before talking about recipes. And that’s exactly as it should be.


So, mindfully and simply, I offer you this Lemon Chicken with Asparagus. It tastes amazing, especially when eaten with gratitude and an awareness of how vast this world is and what a privilege it is to sit down at the table and enjoy a satisfying meal together, wherever we may be.

Lemon Chicken with Asparagus

Light and bright lemon chicken with asparagus. Fresh, flavorful, and easy. Delicious over steamed rice.

Yields: 4 servings

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch + 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • For serving:
  • sesame seeds
  • steamed rice

Pat the chicken dry and season it lightly with salt and pepper.

In a small dish, stir together the water, soy sauce, lemon juice, and sugar. In another small dish, stir together the cornstarch and water. Set aside.

Heat a wok or large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the canola oil and sesame oil. Cook the garlic and ginger in the oil until fragrant, about a minute. Add the asparagus, season lightly with salt, and cook until tender-crisp, 3-4 minutes. Remove the asparagus from the pan and return the pan to the heat. Add the chicken and stir fry until the chicken is cooked through, adding more oil to the pan if needed. Pour the soy sauce/lemon mixture over the chicken and bring to a boil. Stir in the cornstarch and water and stir until thickened. Return the asparagus to the pan and toss everything to coat. Serve the Lemon Chicken with Asparagus over steamed rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve hot.