Chicken Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)

In my last post about the rice burger options, I mentioned chicken karage, or “Japanese fried chicken”. Karaage is characterized by its very light coating of potato starch, or cornstarch or even just all purpose flour, before deep frying. It differs in that way from the heavier breading in that other, classic, fried Japanese dish, the cutlet or katsu. In Japan, skin-on chicken thighs are preferred for their juiciness and taste.

Knowing how much I don’t like frying, it took a long time to get psyched up enough to make this dish. And, it was mainly driven by the fact that I had made a batch of fried donuts earlier and wanted to use up the oil for a second time before recycling it. (But that’s another story.)

After watching some Youtube videos and researching a simple recipe that I thought I could manage, I finally did it. (PS: I passed on the recipe that required frying the chicken THREE times at differing temperatures. I wonder why?) This is the recipe I came up with after combining elements from several. I ‘borrowed’ the spicy mayo dip from the site cited.

Chicken Karaage – serves 2-4

4 boneless, skin on, chicken thighs (~1 lb/450 gm)
1/2-2/3 cup of cornstarch, or half cornstarch and all purpose flour
4 cups (~1 litre) vegetable oil, for frying

For serving

lemon wedges
mayonnaise, Japanese Kewpie mayo or Hellman’s are delicious

Chicken Marinade

3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sake
1 tbsp ginger juice (grate about 1-2 inches of fresh ginger and squeeze out the juice)
2-3 cloves of garlic, grated

Spicy Mayonnaise Dip/Sauce
recipe from the Just Hungry web site

1/2 cup of Kewpie Mayonnaise
3 tbsp Sriracha
3 tbsp soy sauce

Combine the dip ingredients and refrigerate.

In a large bowl, combine the marinade ingredients.

Cut up the thighs into fourths. Marinate the chicken thighs for at least 30 minutes, but less than 1 hr, as the salt in the soy sauce will draw out the moisture from the chicken and toughen it.

In a large bowl, add cornstarch. Drain each piece of chicken of marinade, one at a time, and evenly coat with the cornstarch. Shake off the excess cornstarch. Place coated chicken onto a clean dry plate and let dry for about 5 minutes before frying.

In a large container, suitable for deep frying, add the oil and preheat to 350 deg F. You want the oil level to cover the chicken by about an inch or an inch and a half.

Set up a plate with paper towels on it for draining/wicking the fat off the chicken before transferring the chicken to a wire cooling rack

When the oil is at the proper temperature, fry a few pieces of chicken at a time for 5-6 minutes total, turning after a few minutes. You want the chicken to be a golden brown colour and crunchy. Small bubbles may begin coming off the chicken as the fat in the skin begins to render out.

Remove the chicken pieces from the fat with a slotted spoon or wire scoop, shake for about 10 seconds to remove most of the oil and then place onto the paper towels for a few minutes, turning over to drain off both sides, then transfer to the wire rack.

Serve the chicken with a squeeze of lemon juice and dip into mayonnaise if desired.

I had some leftover karaage so I served it on top of leftover asparagus couscous with a drizzle of spicy mayonnaise on top.

2 thoughts on “Chicken Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)

    1. It’s amazingly tasty. And I didn’t need as much oil to fry it in as I feared I would. I just need to pry open my piggy bank and buy a deep frying/candy thermometer that’s ACCURATE. 🙂

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