Chicken Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)

Chicken Karaage is one of my favorite ways to prepare chicken. You need to plan ahead because it does marinate for a few hours, and it does involve some frying, but it is a really easy and flavourful way to make chicken.

I typically use boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this, but I have used chicken breast when that’s what I’ve had on hand. Thigh meat is juicier and tends to dry out less than breast meat. Cutting the thighs into bite-sized chunks and marinating them for a few hours in fresh ginger, garlic, soya sauce, mirin, and sesame oil adds tons of flavor to the chicken.

When you’re ready to fry the chicken, you simply toss them in starch. A lot of recipes call for potato starch, which is fine. I’ve done a side-by-side test of potato starch vs. corn starch and I prefer corn starch. I found that I get a crispier shell with corn starch.

This is one of those things that is best eaten right away. Have lots of lemon wedges ready to go and give the chicken a squeeze of lemon juice before eating. I like to serve this with a big salad but you can also serve it with steamed rice and sauteed vegetables.

Chicken Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)

Bite-size pieces of crispy chicken. Serves 4.


Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. finely grated ginger
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp. soya sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. mirin
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch and more if needed
  • canola oil for frying
  • lemon wedges and sliced green onions for garnish

Directions

  1. Combine the ginger, garlic, soya sauce, mirin, and sesame oil in a mixing bowl and stir to mix well. Add the chicken thighs and stir through, making sure all of the chicken pieces have been coated in marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4-8 hours.
  2. When you’re ready to fry, heat oil in a deep Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot until it reaches 350°F / 175°C. You need to use enough oil so that it comes up about 3 inches.
  3. Place the corn starch on a plate or tray and use a slotted spoon to transfer some of the chicken from the marinade to the starch, letting any excess marinade drain off. Toss the chicken in the starch until well coated. Shake off any excess starch and gently add the chicken to the oil in small batches and cook, stirring, until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through. It should take 5-7 minutes. If it’s browning too quickly, reduce the temperature a little.
  4. Use a slotted spoon or mesh strainer to remove the chicken from the oil and transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Continue with the rest of the chicken.
  5. Serve immediately, garnished with sliced green onion and lots of lemon wedges.

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