Japanese Deep-Fried Chicken

Karaage

  • By
    The Food Studio
  • Time
    25 minutes
Japanese Deep-Fried Chicken

Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, Japan's version of deep-fried chicken is known as karaage. There are many ways to make and season karaage, but this recipe's secret ingredient for that distinct addictive crisp is potato starch. Karaage is easy to make and delicious even when cold, which makes it a staple dish in many Japanese homes and restaurants. Give it a try!

 

What is Karaage?

Karaage is a general term for a dish in which food is lightly coated with potato starch or flour and deep fried in oil, but most often, karaage is referring to chicken prepared in this manner. The difference between karaage and fried chicken found in Western countries, is that karaage requires the meat to be marinated in seasoning and then battered, while fried chicken is when the batter itself is seasoned. In Japan, the chicken is often seasoned with soy sauce, mirin (sweet cooking rice wine), and ginger, giving it a Japanese flavor.

In Japan, the fried chicken set meal with miso soup, salad and rice is so popular that it can be found in restaurants across the country.

Karaage vs Tatsutaage

A dish very similar to karaage is called tatsutaage. The difference between the two lies in the seasoning and the color of the batter.

Karaage can be lightly fried with potato starch or flour, or fried with garlic, ginger and soy sauce. There is a wide range of tastes from light to strong in flavor. Generally speaking, most fried foods have a simple flavoring. Since there are fewer seasonings used, the batter becomes light brown.

Tatsuta-age, on the other hand, is seasoned with soy sauce, mirin, and other seasonings, then covered with flour or potato starch and fried in oil. As a result, it has a richer flavor and a darker brown color.

Yet, since these characteristics are ambiguous, there are cases where karaage is served as tatsutaage and vice versa.

Two Types of Seasoning (Soy sauce vs. Salt)

There are many variations of fried chicken recipes, and the seasoning varies from home to home and restaurant to restaurant. Yet, there are methods of seasoning that are standard; salt and soy sauce.

The taste for fried food seasoning varies from region to region in Japan. In the Tohoku region such as Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures, and the Kanto region such as Gunma and Tokyo, soy sauce flavoring is popular. On the other hand, salt-flavored fried chicken is common in the southern regions of Japan such as Kumamoto and Okinawa prefectures. It is surprising that in the southern regions where there are many people who like fried food, there are more people who like salt seasoning.

Overall, soy sauce flavored fried chicken is more common throughout the country.

Differences in Batter (wheat flour, potato starch, cornstarch, rice flour)

The batter is so important that it can change the impression of fried food completely. We take a look at how different batter changes the texture of the final product.

Karaage batter made out of flour is moist and soft. Since it adheres to the food, it has the characteristic of locking in the flavor. Fried chicken batter made with potato starch is crispy. This is a good batter for those who want to enjoy the texture of the batter. The batter made with cornstarch is crispy, but thin and can be easily removed from the oil. The particles are finer than those of potato starch, so the batter sticks more evenly. Finally, fried tofu batter made with rice flour is thinner than the other three types. It is the perfect batter for those who want a light fried food.

Nutrition per Serving
  • Calories
    287
  • Sodium
    900mg
  • Fat
    12g
  • Protein
    25.8g
  • Carbs
    16.7g
  • Fiber
    0.7g
  • Cholesterol
    110mg

Ingredients

Servings
-
1
+
Imperial
  • 0.5  chicken thigh (0.3lb/120g per serving)
  • few slices ginger
  • shishito peppers (optional)
    • A
    • tsp soy sauce
    • 1.5  tsp sake
  • tbsp potato starch
  • for deep-frying vegetable oil
  • 0.13  Lemon (optional)

Instructions

Step 1

Preparation

  • With a kitchen knife, remove any excess fat between the skin and meat from the chicken. Cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • Slice the ginger thinly, and combine with mixture A to make the seasoning. Add the chicken and mix all the ingredients by hand. Let stand for about 10 min.
  • Poke a few holes in the shishito with a toothpick or small fork to keep it from bursting when deep-fried.

Japanese Deep-Fried Chicken

Step 2

Wipe excess moisture off the chicken with a paper towel.

Japanese Deep-Fried Chicken

Step 3

Dredge the chicken in potato starch and coat evenly. Pat to remove excess starch.

Japanese Deep-Fried Chicken

Step 4

Heat the oil in a frying pan to 320℉ (160℃). Deep-fry the shishito over medium heat until crispy. Place on a draining rack.

Japanese Deep-Fried Chicken

Step 5

Gently put the chicken pieces into the frying pan one by one. Make sure there is enough space so that the chicken pieces don't stick to each other. Deep-fry over medium heat and place on a draining rack once they turn golden brown.
*It's fried twice, so you don't have to cook the chicken completely at this point.

Japanese Deep-Fried Chicken

Step 6

Turn up the heat to 356℉(180℃). Put the chicken back in the oil, and deep-fry again until the skin is crispy. Drain well on the rack.

Japanese Deep-Fried Chicken

Step 7

Arrange the chicken and shishito on a serving plate. Garnish with the lemon wedge if you like.

Tips

When you add grated garlic or ginger to the soy sauce marinade, you can enjoy a different taste of chicken karaage. Eat the chicken karaage as a main dish or as a salad topping as well!

Cooking Tips

  • Fry the chicken twice to make it crispy around the edges, tender and more delicious.
  • You can substitute chicken with salmon or mackerel. Enjoy fish karaage as well.
Food Professionals, Registered Dietitians, Cooks

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