I spent a good part of the recent weekend watching episodes of 深夜食堂 Shinya Shokudō, also known in English as “Midnight Diner”. Filmed in Japanese, the TV series is based on the award-winning eponymous manga series.

Shinya Shokudō revolves around the diners who frequent an izakaya in Tokyo that operates in the middle of the night. Each story highlights a food dish served at the izakaya, often linked to a character’s past and evoking precious memories. One of the episodes featured a young woman who would always order karaage, Japanese fried chicken, at the izakaya.

Karaage is one of my favourite Japanese snack foods. These golden, deep-fried morsels are tasty, particularly when paired with ice-cold beer.

When I lived in Singapore, we would buy frozen karaage from the supermarket. Whenever we wanted a savoury hot snack, we would defrost a few pieces of karaage in the microwave and then pop them into the toaster oven to make them crispy.

I was inspired to make some karaage after watching this episode. So I picked up some ingredients at the grocery shop and got down to business in the kitchen.

I’m happy to report that the karaage was every bit as delicious as I hoped it would be, and it was not difficult to make. Below is the recipe that I used based on various recipes I found online. Itadakimasu いただきます!

Karaage (Japanese fried chicken)

2 chicken thighs, around 500-600g, deboned and chopped into bite-sized pieces
Potato starch, about 1 cup
Vegetable oil, enough to cover the chicken in the frying pot
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger, finely grated
2 large garlic cloves, finely grated
2 teaspoons of sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Mix all the seasonings and chicken in a bowl. Let the mixture marinate for 10 to 30 minutes.
2. Add potato starch to the marinated chicken and mix until all the pieces are well coated.
3. Heat the oil to 180°C / 355°F. If you don’t have a thermometer for checking the temperature, put a pair of long bamboo cooking chopsticks into the oil until the tips touch the bottom. The temperature is correct when you see small bubbles rising quickly out of the chopsticks.
4. Fry a few pieces of the chicken at a time until they turn light golden brown for around 90 seconds. If you add too many pieces at once, the temperature of the oil will drop quickly and the chicken will take longer to cook and end up absorbing too much oil.
5. Transfer the chicken onto a wire rack to drain the excess oil. Serve atop raw spinach, with lemon on the side.

5 replies on “Karaage, Japanese fried chicken

    1. I’d make it again but if I can figure out how to prevent the kitchen from smelling like a fry shop. haha. My beer cup is from Japan – AB bought it from a pottery shop, hence the opaque look (it’s ceramic).

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