My friend Gail and I have talked about throwing a dinner party for the longest time. Figuring out what to serve is not the easiest thing. Finally, we decided on a Japanese tapas party, bringing many dishes to life from our favorite Japanese cookbook, Japanese Soul Cooking. Of course, no Japanese tapas party would be completed without chicken kara-age.
Chicken kara-age is the Japanese version of fried chicken but marinated in a mix of ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sake, and mirin, then dredged in potato starch and deep fried to a morsel of perfection. Using potato starch creates a light and crispy coating similar to the rice flour that I used for the Vietnamese sticky wings. Chicken kara-age makes a perfect appetizer before digging your chopsticks in a nice bowl of ramen but they are also delicious on their own for a snack. And don’t forget your Sapporo!
Chicken kara-age (Japanese fried chicken) adapted from Japanese Soul Cooking
2 lbs of chicken thighs (about 4-6 pieces depending on size)
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated
1 knob of ginger, peeled and chopped
⅓ cup of sake
⅓ cup of mirin
⅓ cup of soy sauce (Maggi brand)
vegetable oil for frying
1 cup of katakuriko (potato starch)
1 tsp of salt
2 tsp of baking powder
white rice (optional)
lemon wedge and fried green chiles (optional)
1. In a mixing bowl, combine garlic, ginger, sake, mirin, and soy sauce to make the marinate.
2. Cut the chicken into 1-1 ½ inch pieces and add to the marinate. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
3. When ready to fry, drain the chicken pieces using a colander.
4. In a mixing bowl, whisk together potato starch, salt, and baking powder.
5. Dredge each piece of chicken in the potato starch mixture and shake off excess flour.
6. In a large pot over medium heat, fill the pot to about 2 inches of oil and bring it to 350 degrees F (if you don’t have a thermometer, leave it on medium heat).
7. Fry the chicken for about 5-6 minutes, 3 minutes on each side until golden brown.
8. Transfer the fried pieces to a tray lined with paper towel to drain off excess oil.
9. When ready to eat, serve with white rice, a wedge of lemon, and fried green chiles.
Cook’s note: I use chicken thigh because it creates the most juicy and flavorful chicken kara-age.