Growing up, my mother would make Karaage on special occasions, especially for picnics or birthday parties. Karaage, or Japanese Fried Chicken (JFC) are pieces of chicken (thigh meat) marinated in a tasty ginger-based soy sauce and then deep-fried to a golden, crunchy, morsel of heaven. From my knowledge, using dark meat is what makes this dish Karaage, whereas using the white meat makes this dish Tatsutaage. Whichever name is used, all I can tell you is that it is absolutely delicious.
The great thing about Karaage is that as it cools down to room temperature, the chicken becomes more flavorful, which makes it perfect for Obentos (packed lunches), picnics, and parties!
Karaage is one of my husband’s favorite dishes that I make, and recently our family was having a temaki party night (DIY sushi handrolls) and I thought the karaage would be a perfect side dish. I think hubby ate more chicken than he did the sashimi 😉 The recipe is quite easy and the marinade can be adjusted to your preference of sweetness, saltiness or gingery-ness.
-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces (can substitute chicken breast or add chicken breast if so desired. I like white meat better so I use both)
-Grated ginger (About a 2-inch piece of ginger..more can be used if you like it a little spicy)
-1 clove grated fresh garlic
-1/2 cup of soy sauce
-1/4 cup Japanese sake
-1/4 cup Mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
-Katakuriko (Potato Starch) to dredge the chicken
-Vegetable oil for frying
1. Pour the soy sauce, sake, mirin, and garlic into a bowl big enough to fit all the chicken pieces.
2. Take the grated ginger in your hand and squeeze out all the juice into the marinade bowl. It is best not to get all the pulp in the marinade, because it may burn while frying the chicken.
3. Place all the raw cut up pieces of chicken in the marinade bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave refrigerated for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. The longer the chicken marinades, the stronger the flavor will be but it is best not to marinade longer than 2 hours or the chicken will be too salty.
4. After the chicken is marinated, drain all the marinade from the chicken using a fine mesh strainer. This step is important in ensuring that the katakuriko doesn’t form a paste when coating the chicken. If the chicken is too wet, you will end up with a huge mess on your hands!
5. Set up your fry station. Heat vegetable oil (about 3 inches) to 170 degrees Celcius (338 F) in a heavy bottomed pot (I used my dutch oven). Make sure you have a baking sheet with a cooling rack sitting on top of it to place the Karaage on after frying, to rid of the excess oil.
6. Pour the katakuriko into a plastic bag (ziploc or any produce bag works). Drop about 5 pieces of chicken at a time into the bag and shake to coat each piece with the katakuriko.
7. Once all the pieces have been coated, start frying the chicken in batches. Deep-fry about 5 to 6 pieces of chicken at a time. Too many pieces in the fryer will lower the temperature of the oil and yield oily chicken. Too little pieces in the fryer will make the temperature of the oil too hot and will burn the chicken before it is cooked through. Fry each batch for about 3 – 4 minutes or until the chicken is golden brown.
8. Once you have let the excess oil drip from the Karaage, transfer the chicken to a paper towel lined plate. Serve with wedges of lemon or Japanese mayonnaise mixed with sriracha on the side! Can be served hot, room temperature, or even cold 🙂
Enjoy the J.F.C.! This stuff is seriously addicting so make sure you make enough for everyone 🙂