I usually do this easy chicken karaage or Japanese fried chicken recipe for a curry dinner. If you know Japanese food, you have most likely come across this popular menu item. This recipe nearly makes a kilo of chicken karaage, so there is plenty for leftovers! I like to make a big batch of chicken karaage so I can put leftovers in the fridge. Then I would reheat by baking for an easy lunch or dinner for the rest of the week.
This popular Japanese dish is easy and quick to make. If you have enough oil plus a large pot for frying, you can finish this dish in less than half an hour!
What is Chicken Karaage
Karaage is a Japanese term for many things deep-fried in oil. The key is to slice small pieces of meat and marinate them. After a marinating period, the pieces would be lightly battered in either cornstarch or potato starch before being dunked in hot oil. In Japanese restaurants, I order chicken karaage as appetizer along with beer. Lemon wedges accompany these crispy chicken pieces to be squeezed over them just before eating.
Ingredients For Japanese Fried Chicken
Based on many classic recipes, Japanese fried chicken must be marinated before you can fry them. But the marinating ingredients are easy to find, and the ratios are flexible, to your taste. So use the recipe card below as a solid guideline. For instance, I like to add more ginger to the chicken, and others want to use more soy sauce for a saltier flavor. It's totally up to you!
- Boneless Chicken Thighs: I like using boneless chicken thighs with the skin because they are crispier when fried. Make sure you size the pieces at most 4 cm (1.5 in) because larger pieces will end up raw in the middle.
- Soy Sauce: Use Japanese-style soy sauce or a full-bodied soy sauce. It gives the umami, salty flavor to the meat.
- Grated Ginger & Garlic: Both these ingredients are used together quite frequently in Asian cuisine. They build up a flavor with a kick, so use as much or as little as you'd like.
- Mirin: This traditional Japanese cooking ingredient will give a sweeter, brighter flavor while tenderizing your chicken.
- Salt & Pepper: Use salt and pepper to taste while considering that there is already a lot of salt in regular soy sauce.
- Potato Starch: From my experience in cooking (and eating!) karaage, potato starch is the superior coating for the chicken. It leaves a cruncher coating more than cornstarch and doesn't leave debris everywhere.
- Oil: Use an oil with a high smoke point so you don't burn your chicken, like sunflower oil.
How to Make Chicken Karaage
From prep time to frying time, chicken karaage is a straightforward recipe. The key to making the Japanese fried chicken crispy is double frying the pieces. The first fry at a lower temperature will eliminate surface moisture while also trapping some inside moisture. Some steam will release, making the coating a bit soggy as it sits on a rack. Frying it for the second time at a higher temperature will eradicate this dampness and ultimately close the surface that's become fully dehydrated, aka, crispy!
- Grate ginger and garlic cloves together in a bowl and set aside.
- Slice the chicken thighs into 2-4 cm (1-1.5 in) pieces.
- Place the sliced chicken in a ziplock bag.
- Add the soy sauce, mirin, garlic, ginger, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for twenty to thirty minutes.
- Pour oil into a pot and bring the temperature to 160°C-170°C (320°F-340°F)
- While the oil is heating up, pour some potato starch on a shallow plate.
- Lightly dredge the marinated chicken pieces with potato starch.
- Fry only a few chicken pieces at a time for about two minutes to keep the oil from losing heat.
- Fry all the chicken pieces and place them on a lined rack to drain the oil.
- Then fry them a second time in an oil temperature of 180°C-190°C (350°F-375°F).
- Let them rest on the rack again for 5 minutes before putting them on a plate.
Tip: Prepare everything while the chicken is marinating. Place aluminum foil beneath a cooling rack and spread some potato starch on a flat plate.
How to Serve Japanese Fried Chicken
Place the drained chicken karaage on a plate with some sliced lemon wedges. Before diving in, squeeze some lemon juice on top. If it's your style, try pairing it with a crisp lager!
Japanese Fried Chicken (Chicken Karaage)
- 750 grams chicken thighs, deboned with skin on
- 3 tablespoon regular soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon sake optional
- 2 teaspoon mirin
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 2 large cloves garlic, grated
Dredge and Frying
- potato starch
- sunflower oil
- Slice chicken thighs into pieces no more than 4 cm (1.5 in) in size. In a bag or container with a lid, add chicken, soy sauce, mirin, ginger, garlic, and sake. Mix everything together and place in the fridge to marinate for 30 mins.
- Add enough oil for deep-frying to a pot. Slowly heat to about 160°C-170°C (320°F-340°F).
- As the oil heats, remove the marinated chicken from the fridge. Add some potato starch to a shallow plate.
- Lightly dredge the chicken pieces and put on a separate plate. Fry a few chicken pieces at a time in the heated oil for about 2 mins and remove. Place on a lined rack to drain. Chicken skin will look lighter in color.
- Once all chicken has been fried, heat the oil to about 180°C-190°C (350°F-375°F). Fry the chicken pieces again but only for 30 sec to 1 min. Remove and replace on the rack to drain.
- Allow the chicken to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with lemon wedge slices.
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