Japanese Fried Chicken – Karaage

Karaage is by far one of my all time favorite foods. While I was living in Japan, I stopped at Lawson everyday to get a stick  of Karaage to satisfy my never-ending craving for this Japanese-style fried chicken.

I’m sad to say, I’ve never been able to replicate the Lawson-style Karaage; however, I have a great recipe in one of my cookbooks, “Futari Gohan”. This Karaage is not as crunchy as American breaded chicken or Tonkatsu would be, but the flavor and color are wonderful. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts or 4 chicken thighs (thighs are tastier but fattier)

2 eggs

2 tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

2-3 garlic cloves, grated

1/2 inch piece of ginger, grated (In Japanese, ginger measurements are done in “Kake”, which is essentially the equivalent of a garlic clove. For this recipe, you want equal parts garlic and ginger.)

1/4 c. flour

Salt and Pepper to taste (I usually skip the salt even though the recipe calls for it because of the soy sauce)

First, cut your chicken into bite-sized pieces.

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Next add in all the ingredients except the flour. Mix well. Let the mixture soak for 10 -30 minutes.

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Add the flour and stir until combined. It should still be a bit soupy.

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Heat a wok full of oil. You will know it’s hot enough if you splash a droplet of water into the oil and it sizzles. It should not smoke; if it does, the oil is too hot.

Add your Karaage to the oil in batches of 5-6 pieces and fry until lightly browned. When they become lightly browned, place them on a paper-towel lined cookie sheet, dry them, then place them on a drying rack.

You’re not done yet! These Karaage pieces are only halfway done. If you are freezing any, freeze them at this stage. I usually freeze half the batch.

After cooking all the Karaage once, you are going to fry them a second time. This double frying technique is something I learned in Japan. My understanding is it does two things: 1) Makes the food less oily (I’m not really sure how accurate this is), 2) Makes the food crunchier (this is definitely true).

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Before you start your second batch of frying, wait for the oil to heat again. This time, you want the oil even hotter, so heat it until just before it starts to smoke.

Then, add your Karaage in batches of 5-6 again. Fry until they turn a deep brown, then pat down with a paper towel and place on a drying rack to cool.

See the picture below. The chicken on the left has been fried once, the chicken on the right has been double fried. Looks tasty, right? It’s ready to enjoy now! Nomms.

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