Chicken karaage

chicken-karaage-8This recipe needs to come with a warning – it is virtually impossible to stop eating once you start! If you are a fan of Japanese food, this will not disappoint – it tastes every bit as good as it does in restaurants. However, in a restaurant, you get a few tasty pieces, this recipe made quite a pile, and my family and guests worked our way right through it, accompanied by lightly stir-fried greens.

Usually I shy away from cooking fried food at home, but shallow frying worked well and there wasn’t a lot of mess and smell either.

You will need:

  • 500g boneless, skin-on chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sake (I substituted rice wine vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup potato starch (I substituted cornflour)
  • high smoke point oil for deep frying (I used grapeseed oil)
  • kewpie mayo, sliced cucumbers and lime wedges, to serve


Mix the soy sauce, sake, sugar, ginger, and garlic in a bowl and add the chicken – then leave to marinate for 30 minutes to an hour 1 hour at room temperature, in a slightly cool spot. Letting the chicken rest at room temp means that the chicken won’t drop the temperature of the oil, which means that it’ll cook up more crisply. It’ll also cook faster than if you cook it cold from the fridge.

Heat up 3-4cm of oil in a deep heavy-bottomed pot until it reaches 150C. It doesn’t need to be too deep, it depends on the size of your chicken bits.

Place the potato or corn starch in a bowl and work in batches, coating several pieces of chicken, then shaking off the excess. Use a pair of tongs to gently add the chicken to the hot oil. Fry until lightly golden, about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from the oil and let it rest on a wire rack or paper towels. Repeat with the remaining chicken until all of it has been fried once.

Turn the heat up to 170C and fry the chicken a second time around until deeply golden and crispy, another 1-2 minutes. Drain and enjoy hot with kewpie mayo, limes, and cucumbers.