I have always kept a bag of Chicken Karaage in my freezer for emergencies - you know, times when I really, really have no time to cook, yet need to get dinner done pronto!
The funny thing is, I never thought I could make this at home, mainly because in many ways, Japanese cooking is still a mystery to me, although I have become more brave in trying to make some of the Japanese dishes that my family really like.
This has been on my to-cook list for a while. Yes, I have this *huge* stack of recipes for the things I want to cook, and this recipe had been shoved to somewhere in the middle because I kept thinking, ah, it must be so hard to cook this!
Well, I was wrong. Not only is chicken karaage really easy to make, the home-made version is superior in every way when compared to the store bought versions.
To start, I cut some chicken thighs into bite-size pieces. I left the skin on because I wanted crispy-crispy. If you are worried about too much fat in your diet, remove the skin before cutting the chicken. I seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper.
I grated a knob of ginger and squeezed the juice onto the chicken, and used a garlic press to mince some garlic which was placed on the chicken too.
Then I added light soy, sesame oil, sake, pepper and sugar to the chicken before mixing everything to combine. This was covered with cling film and placed in the fridge (for a minimum of one hour) to marinate.
I mixed corn flour with the plain flour and added that to the chicken. I stirred the chicken so the chicken was coated with the flour. There is no need to coat everything evenly.
The chicken pieces were fried in hot oil in batches until cooked through. I then placed them on some paper towels.
Once all the chicken had been cooked, I put them back into the oil to fry a second time so the exterior became crispy and brown.
Finally, the chicken was placed on a wire rack to drain.
Apart from being super delicious, the chicken was crispy, yet tender and moist.
Yes, you guessed it - I will NEVER buy frozen, ready-made chicken karaage ever again!!
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Chicken Karaage (Serves 4)
Adapted from Just One Cookbook
500g chicken thigh
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup potato starch (or corn starch)
1/4 cup flour
Oil for deep frying
For the Seasonings:
1 inch ginger
8 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. sake (or dry sherry)
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. sugar
Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towel. Cut each chicken thigh into 2 inch pieces (so that deep frying time is about the same). Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put the chicken in a large bowl or Ziploc bag.
Grate the ginger and mince the garlic (with garlic press).
Combine the chicken and all the seasonings in the bowl (or Ziploc bag). Cover with plastic wrap and rest in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Bring the oil to 320-338F (160-170C).
Meanwhile combine potato starch and flour, and whisk all together.
Right before the oil is ready, add the potato starch and flour mix to the chicken. You do not need to mix it evenly. The uneven coating gives each piece its unique texture.
Gently drop each piece of chicken separately into the oil. Do not overcrowd. Deep fry 3-5 pieces at a time. If you put a lot of chicken in the oil, the temperature will drop quickly and chicken will end up absorbing too much oil.
Cook for 90 seconds, or until the chicken is cooked through and outside is light golden color. If the chicken changes color too quickly, then the oil temperature is too high. Either put a few more pieces of chicken in the oil or lower the heat. Controlling oil temperature is the key for deep frying.
Transfer the chicken onto a wire rack to drain excess oil. While resting on the wire rack, the chicken will continue to cook with the remaining heat.
Between batches (or even while cooking), make sure to pick up crumbs to keep the oil clean (otherwise oil will get darker).
When you finish all the batches, then bring the oil to 356F (180C).
Deep fry for the second time for 45 seconds, or until the skin is nice golden color and crispy.
Transfer the chicken onto a wire rack or paper towel to drain excess oil. Serve the chicken immediately with lemon wedges.