Japanese style fried chicken (otherwise known as karaage chicken) is the best type of fried chicken that you may have never had before. Extremely crunchy and infused with Japanese flavors, this type of fried chicken is one of my favorites. It’s also quite simple to make. This is a recipe that’s certainly worth exploring and I am happy to share this international dish.
My first time trying karaage.
Back in the Spring of 2009, I had the privilege of doing a Semester at Sea. This was an incredible experience where I was able to spend one of my college semesters abroad on a ship that circumnavigated the world, making 13 stops in different countries along the way. One of the stops was…drum roll…Japan! Japan is an incredible country and I cannot wait to go back one day. One of the nights that we were there, I went to a restaurant with a few of my friends. I decided to order the fried chicken. I had the expectation that it would be like any other fried chicken I had here in USA. Boy was I wrong. It was one of the BEST fried chicken dishes I ever had – it completely blew me away. So much so that nearly 14 years later I am still talking about how good it was. I cannot recommend this dish enough!
How to make Karaage? It starts with the marinade.
One thing that makes this dish so good is the marinade. Not requiring too many ingredients, this marinade consists of the following:
- Chicken thighs
- Soy Sauce
- Brown sugar
Cube the chicken thighs into bite sized pieces and combine with the remaining ingredients (mixing well). Allow to marinate for a few hours or up to overnight in the refrigerator. Side note: I typically do not like to take shortcuts when cooking, but peeling ginger is one of my least favorite activities. Have no fear though – Dorot Gardens sells frozen crushed ginger that can be found at Trader Joes. I highly recommend this product as it’s of high quality and has made my ginger peeling days a thing of the past.
Time to fry.
After the chicken has marinated for at least a few hours, it’s time to fry. Heat some oil in a pot or dutch oven (here’s the one that I use but there are many other options available) to 350ºF. While the oil is heating, add some cornstarch and a beaten egg to the chicken (mixing well). Once the oil reaches temperature, add the chicken (working in batches) and fry until they are golden brown and an internal temperature of 175ºF is reached. This should take about 6 minutes per batch but always check the internal temperature to make sure the chicken is fully cooked. Allow the chicken to cool on a rack before eating.
This truly is an incredible dish. While American fried chicken will always have a place in my heart, there’s no denying that the Japanese have their own amazing version. This can be eaten on it’s own as is (my favorite way to eat it) or you can get creative. For example, I’ve used this chicken to make tacos and rice bowls before. I highly encourage you to give this recipe a shot, especially if you’ve never had it before. I think you’ll be as blown away as I was the first time I had it. Like I said, nearly 14 year later and I’m still talking about how good it was.
Japanese Style Fried Chicken (Karaage Chicken)
- 1.5 lbs Chicken thighs (boneless) cubed into bite sized pieces
- 4-5 Garlic cloves minced
- 1 tbsp Ginger peeled and minced; or use frozen crushed ginger
- 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
- 1.5 tbsp Sake
- 1 tsp Brown sugar
- 1 Egg beaten
- 1/2 cup Cornstarch
- Avocado oil or any neutral cooking oil for frying
- In a large bowl, combine chicken thighs, garlic cloves, ginger, soy sauce, sake, and brown sugar. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
- Remove the bowl with the chicken/marinade from the refrigerator. Add the beaten egg and cornstarch. Mix well.
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil to 350ºF.
- Once the oil's temperature has reached 350ºF, add the chicken (working in batches). Fry until the chicken has turned golden brown and an internal temperature of 175ºF has been reached, about 6 minutes.
- Remove chicken from the pot or Dutch oven and allow to cool on a rack. Serve immediately and enjoy!