RECIPE CONTRIBUTED BY ELIZABETH OSWALD-UEMATSU
Japanese fried chicken, or kara-age, is such a staple meal in Japan that I am always amazed that it is so unknown outside of Japan. Kara-age lacks the delicate beauty of its highbrow cousin tempura, but unlike tempura, it doesn’t get greasy and soggy when it’s cold, which makes it perfect for obento box lunches, potluck parties and family gatherings.
I rarely make fried food at home, but this is always at the top of my kids’ request list for dinner. The meat can be marinated up to 12 hours in advance, but if you are going to marinade the meat for more than 3 hours, reduce the soy sauce in the recipe to keep the meat from getting tough and salty.
While I often make kara-age with boneless-skinless chicken breast, the best flavor comes from thigh meat with the skin on.
- 1 1/2 to 2 lb. boneless chicken breast or thigh meat, cut into large, bite-size pieces. (The best flavor comes from thigh meat with skin on, but I usually use boneless, skinless breast meat).
- 1 and 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. cooking sake or dry sherry
- 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 5 Tbsp. Flour
- 5 Tbsp. Corn starch (in Japan we use kata-kuriko which is actually potato starch. If you can’t find it, corn starch will work.)
- Cooking oil
- Cut the chicken into large bite-size pieces (skin optional). Season heavily with salt, pepper, and seasoning salt.
- Place the chicken, soy sauce, cooking sake, ginger, and garlic into a bowl or plastic bag, mix well and let marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.
- Place 4 to 5 Tbsp. each of flour and cornstarch into a plastic bag, add the chicken mixture, and mix well so the flour coating is moist, not powdery.
- Fry in cooking oil at 300 degrees for 4 to 5 minutes per batch. The chicken will rise to the top of the oil when it’s about ready.