Chicken karaage, or Japanese fried chicken, is traditionally made by marinating chicken in soy sauce and then coating it in corn starch and frying it twice, but baking it can undoubtedly produce the same blissfully crisp result. The result is blissfully crisp and golden on the outside, tender and quite juicy on the inside.
Try to say “karaage” without salivating just a little. These little nuggets of chicken simultaneously give you a satisfying crunch on the outside and juicy tenderness on the inside. No izakaya menu or Japanese cooking collection is complete without a solid karaage recipe.
Deep-fried foods have been developed and enjoyed around the globe for millennia, and Japan is no exception. There is tempura, pieces of seafood and vegetables fried in a light coating of egg, flour and water. There is tonkatsu , breaded pork cutlets fried and served with sliced cabbage and a thick Worcestershire-style sauce. There is korroke, deep-fried balls of mashed potato covered in breadcrumbs. Lastly, there is karaage , bite-sized pieces of tender chicken seasoned in a ginger soy mixture, dipped in flour and starch and deep-fried until coated in a crispy golden robe.
To prepare the dish, small pieces of chicken, meat, or fish are marinated, dredged in flour, and baked. The crispy bits of meat are traditionally served with fresh lemon wedges and mayonnaise for dipping. Boneless meat is typically used for making karaage. The meat is usually cut into thin strips or bite-sized pieces. Chicken is the most popular choice, although boneless beef, pork, or firm fish may be prepared karaage-style as well.
Fresh lemon wedges are traditionally served with karaage, and Kewpie brand mayonnaise is the most popular condiment for the dipping sauce. If Kewpie is unavailable, a homemade version may be made with plain mayonnaise and rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar, seasoned with a little MSG. A small amount of hot mustard or cayenne pepper may also be added for spice.
Karaage is a favorite dish in Japan’s izakaya pubs. Since it may also be served cold, it is also a popular choice for bento lunchboxes. Karaage is also included on menus in many Japanese restaurants outside Japan.
14 Oz./400g./1lbs. chicken
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. mirin
3 Tbsp. sesame oil
Pinch of salt & pepper
1 Tbsp. ginger paste
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
6 Tbsp. corn starch
Cut the chicken thighs into bite-size pieces. Don’t make them too small or too large.
Put chicken in a bowl and add all of the marinade to the chicken. Mix well with chopsticks or other mixing utensil. Marinade in the fridge for 30 minutes or more. If you have no time, just leave it 10 minutes.
Add the corn starch and mix well to coat evenly. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place chicken in one layer, making sure no piece is touching another piece. Bake 20 minutes. Take out and make sure there is no pink in the middle of the largest piece.