Fried chicken has to be one of those universal ”fast” foods that appear in most cultures in various parts of the world. Although this recipe isn't particularly ”fast”, its certainly a delicious alternative to the Western friend chicken that a certain “Colonel” is famous for (Although I don't think he was a real colonel?). This recipe uses potato starch as the coating and its double fried for extra crispiness.
There's no secret blend of herbs and spices here, but much like using buttermilk in the traditional southern fried chicken, this recipe uses a marinade incorporating Soy sauce, Lime juice and dry Sake which serves the same purpose as the buttermilk. It gives a slight tang and aroma to the meat but also, the acids breakdown the protein to provide tenderness and a juicy bite, while maintaining a crispy outer coating from the potato starch and frying process.
Like with most fried foods, I think Karaage is best served with something that has a refreshing contrast, such as cucumber, lettuce, or even celery. I would also recommend something with a bit of acidity, so whatever your favourite pickles are?
In keeping with the the Japanese theme, you could also try some pickled or fresh Daikon radish.
The garnish -
Add spring onions (*Tip - you can prepare this in advance an keep in cold water until serving, the cold water will diminish some of the pungency and curl up the strips as pictured in the cover image), chopped chilies, sesame seeds and lime wedges.
For a dipping sauce you could try a simple mix of lime juice and Soy sauce or some Yuzu mayonnaise.
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Prep time : 20 min
Cook time : 15 min
For the chicken marinade
600g Boneless and skinless chicken thighs
1 Large Spring onion
1 Tbsp of picked fresh Thyme
1 Red chili chopped (de-seeded if you like it less spicy)
2 Cloves of garlic
1 inch (thumb sized) piece of fresh ginger
1 Lime - Juiced
120ml (1/2 cup) of dark Soy sauce
50ml Dry Sake (Japanese rice wine)
2 tsp sugar
For the breading/coating and frying -
200g Potato starch (Katakuriko) - If you struggle to find this in supermarkets, see below link.
1/2 tsp salt and pepper
Roughly 600ml or 1 pint of Vegetable oil for frying - Peanut oil is also great for this. In this recipe I shallow fry the chicken but you can use a deep fryer if you have one.
Roughly chop the spring onion, chili, garlic and add to a large bowl. Grate in the fresh ginger and add the rest of the marinating ingredients including the chicken (cut the chicken into 1/2 inch strips).
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight for best results. Alternatively, you could marinate the chicken in a zip lock or seal-able bag.
Once the chicken has had some time marinating take it out the fridge.
In a heavy bottom pan (I use a 12” cast iron skillet) heat up the oil. If you have a high temperature thermometer - you are looking for a temp of 170-180°C/356°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the oil by adding a little piece of bread to it, if it sizzles and floats to the surface, it’s ready.
In a Separate bowl add the potato starch, salt and pepper. Add 4 or 5 pieces of the chicken at a time (when you take the chicken pieces out of the marinade, shake off the excess. You don’t have to completely dry the chicken). Gently roll the chicken in the starch and dust of the excess before carefully placing in the oil. You are going to need to coat and fry the chicken in batches to avoid sticking and overcrowding the pan. *Discard the chicken marinade at the end as it cannot be used again because it’s had raw chicken in it!
Cook the coated chicken in batches for roughly 5/6 minutes until light golden brown, remove with a slotted spoon or wire strainer onto a paper towel lined tray.
Once all the chicken has been fried, for extra crispiness, increase the temperature of the oil a little and fry the chicken again for another minute until deep golden brown. You can be more generous with how many pieces to add to the oil this time. Drain excess oil from the chicken on some paper towels.
Try not to let the chicken sit too long in the potato starch before frying as it will absorb the moisture and become gummy - this will result in a hard shell like coating around the chicken rather than a crispy and crunchy texture.