Every country has its version of fried chicken, and that’s just great. But the Japanese do fried chicken super extremely awesomely well – Karaage. Marinated > coated in potato starch > lightly fried in light vegetable oil. It’s the best bad food out there.
Not overly difficult but we’ve messed this up before by adding too much of something to the marinade… so don’t go palsy on the soy sauce or anything. Everything you need to make Karaage tonight, is right here.
And please learn to say it right… Kara-ah-ge.
Japanese Fried Chicken… Karaage
If you’re looking for perhaps the pinnacle of fried chicken, look no further than Japanese Fried Chicken a.k.a. Karaage! With succulent and juicy meat, irresistibly crispy crunchy coating, and an explosion of flavour in every bite – it’s without a doubt one of the most delicious forms of fried chicken out there.
You may have heard of ‘Karaage’ (ka-RA-AH-geh) before, as it’s become so mainstream these days we’ve seen it at the local pub and frozen at the local Supermarket – which we purchased to try at home and it just made us sad.
A Quick Story for Background
Karaage is a classic Japanese dish consisting of bite size chicken thigh pieces that are marinated, lightly coated in a flour, usually potato starch and then deep fried till golden brown. It’s so delicious it can be a little addictive. We had a customer (and very good mate) named Marty and he loved Karaage so much that he always ordered two serves on his Karaage Donburi, he ordered it so often that we made a new button in our POS system called the ‘Marty-Don’.
What exactly is Karaage?
The word Karaage refers to the cooking technique used for any type of ingredient – not just chicken. Fish or vegetables can also be prepared using this method to create tasty bites for everyone to enjoy. You’ll find Karaage everywhere from Bento lunch boxes, street side stalls, restaurants and diners across Japan; proving its popularity amongst all ages & cultures & lifeforms.
The Key Components to Making Karaage
- Chicken thigh cut into bite size pieces
- Soy Sauce, Sake, Ginger & Garlic make up the marinade
- Potato Starch to coat the pieces
- Vegetable Cooking Oil heated to 180°
The Importance of Marinating – Properly
Marinating is literally soaking foods in a liquid solution like vinegar or wine with an added flavouring like herbs or spices, to intensify the foods before cooking. Which reminds me of something I learned doing prep in the kitchen one day, marinating is a great technique used to remove unwanted gamey smell and in some cases tenderise meat chicken or fish.
There are 4 key components to marinating foods:
- Flavours, and a bonus one
For this Karaage, leave to marinate for 30mins to an hour. The longer you leave the chicken marinating, the stronger the flavours will become which isn’t always a good thing. If you leave the chicken too long it will become too salty and the elders say it will strip the calcium from your bones – which doesn’t sound pleasant.
I have read many recipes which instruct the amateur cook (yourself perhaps) to perform a double-fry. What they are eluding to is pre-cooking some of the bigger pieces of chicken – drop the big boys in the fryer for a quick dip and take them out for a rest. Then cook everything again together so it’s even and cooked though. Some of the bigger boys can be slow to move so they need a head-start.
Lightly Coat with Potato Starch
Too much potato starch is just silly really. The excess will fall off anyway, it will make the oil cloudy and dirty quicker and doesn’t give the chicken a good texture. You’ll see in the video how we do our delicate dustings.
- Chopping board
- Sharp knife
- Deep Fryer or pot for frying
- 500 gram chicken thigh with skin on
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger minced up
- 1 tbsp fresh garlic minced up
- 2 tbsp Japanese soy sauce (use Tamari to make it Gluten Free)
- 1 tbsp cooking sake
- 1 wedge lemon for squeezing
- 1 bloop Japanese mayonnaise for dipping
- Let's mix up the marinade first & add the soy sauce, ginger & garlic to a bowl & mix together well. Put aside.
- Cut the chicken thighs into bite size pieces, throw them into another bowl as you go.
- Pour over the sauce we just made, add the ginger & garlic as well. Mix around & around.There's a trick to marinating... sometimes the chicken at the top misses out so add a sheet of wrap to the surface. Then another wrap over the bowl to seal in all that marinade goodness. Leave to marinate for 30mins or, however long you like as the flavours will just grow more intense.
- When you & your chicken pieces feel ready, dust the pieces in potato starch.
- Now just a heads up... vegetable oil usually sits at 180℃ & we clean our oil every single day. Depending what equipment you're using to fry with, wok, saucepan maybe a deep fryer, lower around 5 pieces gently into the vegetable oil and fry for about 4 minutes but it also depends on how big you made the pieces. A cooks tip: fried foods are usually ready when they turn a golden colour & float to the top.
- Strain & drain the oil.
- Put on your coolest plate.
- Add some mayo on the side and squeeze some lemon over the Karaage.
- Add some shichimi spice over the mayo to add some red and make it look cool.
- Dekimashita <- it's ready