Fried chicken is one of life’s great pleasures. And Japanese fried chicken karaage is no exception. In Japan, it is a tradition to eat fried chicken from KFC on Christmas Day before the traditional new year celebrations commence. However, we feel that JFC offers far superior fried chicken.
Always use chicken thigh meat. It has so much more flavour than breast meat and is guaranteed to be juicier and more succulent.
Making karaage isn’t difficult but it also isn’t a quick process. However the results are definitely worth taking the time to make the dish. The chicken absolutely needs to be marinated – this adds so much flavour. The word karaage refers to the cooking technique, that is frying the food in oil. You don’t need equipment such as a deep fat fryer – a frying pan will be just fine.
Recipe for Japanese fried chicken karaage:
800g boneless chicken thigh (skin-on is fine), each thigh cut into 4 pieces
For the marinade
4 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs mirin (if you can’t get this, add a little more sake/wine and a tsp of sugar)
1 tbs cooking sake (or white wine if you can’t get that)
1 inch of ginger (finely grated)
1-2 cloves of garlic (finely grated) depending on how garlicky you like your food
For the coating
Potato starch. If you can’t get this, fine rice flour or even cornflour will be fine. (Icing sugar would not!) We didn’t have quite enough potato starch so mixed in a little rice flour. About a cup’s worth (275ml) – as much as you need to coat all the chicken.
For the cooking
Vegetable oil (enough to get about 1 cm depth of oil in your pan)
Place the chicken thigh pieces in a bowl and add the soy sauce, mirin, sake, ginger and garlic. Mix well and leave to marinate for at least an hour.
Pour the oil into a frying pan until it’s about 1 cm deep. Heat up. The oil will be hot enough when you put a little flour into it and it sizzles.
When the chicken has had a chance to acquire those lovely flavours pour the potato starch into a bowl.
Take each piece of chicken, dip both sides in the flour, shake any excess off, and then carefully place in the oil.
Repeat for further pieces of chicken. Do not overfill the pan – this is a process whereby the chicken should be cooked in batches. We tend to use a clock method – put a piece of chicken at the top, then go round the pan putting further pieces in in a clockwise direction so we know which piece was put in first. Cook the chicken for 5-7 minutes, turning occasionally, until the pieces are golden brown.
Then remove from the oil and place on kitchen paper to soak up excess oil. You can transfer the chicken from the first batches into a heatproof bowl in the oven set on a low heat to keep them warm.
Start the next batch and repeat until all the chicken has been cooked.
Serve with Japanese mayo. It’s not at all healthy but it’s oh, so decadent and delicious! If you’re feeling more health conscious, shredded cabbage is a popular accompaniment.
Karaage chicken is also yummy cold the following day. It often features in bento boxes.
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