Karaage-Japanese staple comfort food, popular street food.
Originally, “Kara-age” literally means the deep-fried food dish such as chicken, pork, seafood, and vegetable that are coated with a powder such as flour and starch.
By the way, when the Japanese people say “Karaage”, generally it is referred to “Kara age Chicken” due to the popularity.
*It is often called “Tori karaage”-Tori means chicken in Japanese.
We sometimes can’t ignore this theory- We love deep-fried food.
Japanese fried chicken aka Karaage chicken, you’ll absolutely love this addictive soy-sauce hint fried chicken!
It is my husband’s favorite Japanese dish, and also our guests give me compliments.
Tender, juicy and crispy fried chicken.
Since the ingredients are so simple, the cooking process is important to keep the meat moist and the coating crispy.
- What’s The Difference Between Fried Chicken & Karaage Chicken
- Chicken Thigh VS. Breasts; To Make Karaage Chicken
- Do You Use An Egg For Karaage Chiekn?
- Karaage Chicken Coating Recipe; What Do You Use?
- The Best Pot To Make Karaage Chicken
- Can You Freeze Karaage Chicken Before Cooking?
- How To Prepare Frozen Karaage Chiken Before Cooking
What’s The Difference Between Fried Chicken & Karaage Chicken
- Fried chicken is coated with “batter” such as flour batter or beer batter, Karaage chicken is used powder such as wheat flour (Japanese wheat flour is not all-purpose flour, which is very similar to cake flour) and starch (potato starch is the general starch in Japan).
- Fried chicken is generally seasoned to coating (batter), contrary, Karaage chicken is seasoned to meat.
- General seasoning for fried chicken is salt, pepper, garlic powder, several herbs, and egg. Contrary, the seasoning for Karaage chicken is soy sauce, ground garlic, ginger, Japanese sake.
Chicken Thigh VS. Breasts; To Make Karaage Chicken
Which is the best to make yummy Karaage chicken?- a chicken thigh or a chicken breast?
Well, you know, if you like a rich and juicy fried chicken after forgetting calories, use thighs.
If you like light and healthier (lower calories) choose breasts.
However, we often suffer from dry tasteless deep-fried chicken breast, so don’t forget to brine chicken breast in my best baking powder solution (in this post) the day before.
It is not necessary to brine chicken thighs, but you can if desired.
Either meat you choose, better avoid to cut too small pieces since karaage chicken will be likely overcooked and dry.
General Information To Make Japanese Karaage Chicken
I am talking about the general information and it is not mandatory.
Generally, we use boneless chicken in either way; skin-on or skinless.
Skin-on or skinless???
Some people love “chicken skin” so we often make Karaage chicken with skin-on, but you can remove it if desired.
Do You Use An Egg For Karaage Chiekn?
- An egg can glue the coating powder to the meat
- An egg can keep the flavor
Actually, there are roughly two types of Karaage chicken recipes-using an egg or not in the coating process.
So which one is better?
When mixing a beaten egg before coating, it helps the coating be thicker and adhere to the meat.
Besides, it can also keep moist when marinating chicken.
The coating texture becomes fluffy rather than crispy.
Also, it can keep the flavor inside so it is still tasty a day after cooking.
Even though you like the crispy coating, this way is preferred for parties and in a lunch box because the flavor lasts long.
Therefore, you don’t have to use an egg if you look for crispy karaage chicken.
Karaage Chicken Coating Recipe; What Do You Use?
- Potato starch makes the coating light and crispy
- Wheat flour can add its flavor to Karaage chicken
- Wheat flour can be glue and keep the flavor
- Mix both powders to put both benefits together
The karaage chicken texture becomes completely different depending on the type of coating powder used.
Most recipes use a mix of wheat flour and potato starch.
There are reasons to use the mix so I’ll explain later.
It doesn’t need to be potato starch, you can use corn starch or rice powder instead of potato starch.
As I said, potato starch is the general starch in Japan, so we use it in most recipes when using starch.
There are many Japanese dishes that you should use potato starch, it’s not the karaage chicken recipe.
Please, go ahead to use corn starch.
The starch can bring a “crispy” texture to karaage (deep-frying) dish.
The color becomes white and you will be addicted to freshly cooked crispy karaage!
However, the coating will be soft and watery and the flavor will be not good as freshly cooked.
By the way, Karaage chicken (or other foods) that coated with potato starch-only is categorized into the dish called “Tatsuta Age”(竜田揚げ), so I will not talk about the coating recipe using potato starch only.
When making karaage chicken of wheat flour only, Karaage chicken becomes fluffer, juicy, and adds more flavor since the wheat flour has a naturally sweet flavor.
The advantage of using wheat flour is that the coating becomes sticky and does not easily come off the chicken during the cooking process.
The color will be golden brown color.
If you don’t eat immediately after cooking, such as for a party or for a lunch box, this way is better than other coating recipes.
The Combination Of Wheat Flour and Potato Starch
When putting both coating ingredients benefits together, you can make crispy, juicy, and tasty-forever Karaage chicken.
You can just combine wheat flour and potato starch?
Actually, it is not a professional way to make absolute crispy Karaage chicken.
I wish I could just combine both powders together.
How To Coat The Meat For The Absolute Crispy Karaage Chicken
I tried to mix both powders and coated the chicken, it didn’t help to make the best crispy karaage chicken.
The double coating.
I know it is pain in a neck, but the best answer that I could find is IT.
Prepare two separate bowls.
First, coat the chicken with wheat flour and then the potato starch.
By coating the wheat flour first, it plays a role to keep the chicken flavor.
A crispy texture can be obtained by layering potato starch on top.
Can you Use Whole Wheat fFour For Karaage Chicken?
Actually, I tried the coating mixed with all-purpose and whole wheat flour once.
I don’t like the flavor much, but my husband likes it (or doesn’t care much).
So, up to you.
The Best Pot To Make Karaage Chicken
Not only for making crispy french fries but “Double-Fry” is also the key to making crispy Karaage Chicken.
To apply the perfect double frying process, types of cooking pots can help controlling oil temperature.
The ideal pot for deep-frying is “a solid, thick and large pot”.
So, which material of cooking pot is the best for making Karaage chicken?
A Copper Pot
The best cooking pot to make crispy Karaage chicken is the pot made of copper, which gives you easy oil temperature control and also can maintain temperature.
Copper is excellent for heat response.
The oil temperature quickly becomes the ideal temperature, and even if the temperature drops once after adding the ingredients, the ideal temperature immediately gets back due to the copper properties.
Therefore, copperware is suitable especially when you deep-fry a big amount of food.
Keeping the oil temperature is important to make ingredients crispy, so copper is the ideal pot for deep-frying.
Cast Iron Ware
You will be hesitant to use cast ironware just because it’s just thick and heavy, (this is why it’s good for cooking, ) and needs well-care.
Not only cast iron cooking ware heats up quickly and evenly but also has good heat-retaining properties.
Electric Deep Fryer
Well, an electric deep fryer is stress-free.
There is no need to say, it’s easy to use.
A lid is attractive to keep your kitchen clean.
A deep fryer with a basket makes it easy and safer to lower or lift food into or out of the oil.
In Japan, it is not so common kitchen gadget at a private home, so generally, we use a deep-fry pod called “Tempura Nabe(pod)” (天ぷら鍋).
Can You Freeze Karaage Chicken Before Cooking?
If you freeze chicken for Karaage chicken before cooking, you can save cooking time.
I always do so, it’s much easier and less stressful, you know.
Marinate chicken in a freezer bag and freeze it. (Don’t add an egg if for freezing. )
Place the bag on the baking sheet and make it flat, it is easy to store and organize in the freezer.
Besides, it can quickly freeze chicken which prevents growing bacteria and also keep the flavor of the chicken.
How To Prepare Frozen Karaage Chiken Before Cooking
Thaw the chicken, add a beaten egg.
As I said, you don’t need to add an egg to make crispy Karaage chicken, however, it can help moisture and flavor back to the chicken in this case.
Leave it for 10 minutes, you can see the chicken absorb the moisture.
The excess juice and sauce are not good for the following processes, so drain or tap dry the excess liquid.
If you really don’t want to use an egg, you can add a tbsp of Japanese sake or white wine per 1.5 lb of chicken.
You Can Freeze Karaage Chicken In Coating With My Karaage Chicken Recipe2
Do you wanna also skip the coating process?
Surprisingly, you can freeze Karaage chicken in the coating when you read this recipe!
How To Make Japanese Karaage Chicken At Home
Peace Love Crispy Japanese Karaage Chicken
- 1.5 pound boneless chicken thighs or breasts (14-15 fried chicken)
- 1 whole egg (beaten) *Optional
- 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger (or 1 tsp of ginger powder)
- 1/2 tsp fresh grated garlic
- 1/2 -1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp Japanese sake or white wine
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce (Kikkomann)
- 1 tbsp Roasted Sesame oil (olive oil, vegetable oil)
- 1/3 cup All-purpose flour
- 1/3 - 2/3 cup Potato starch or corn starch
- Prepare chicken. Trim up excess fat and tendon if needed.
- If you use chicken breast, I recommend to brine the meat in my baking powder solution.
- Cut chicken into about 2-3-inch wide pieces.(about 1.4oz, 40-5-g), don't cut too small, to make juicy Karaage chicken.
- Mix cut-chicken and seasoning (grated ginger, grated garlic, black pepper, Japanese sake (or white wine), sugar, and soy sauce, roasted sesame oil).
- Add beaten egg if desired.
- Marinate chicken for a half-hour. *Do not marinate the chicken for over a half-hour since soy sauce dries the meat out.
- Preheat the oil to 320F (160℃).
- Meanwhile, place powders (wheat flour & starch) in two separate bowls.
- Dredge 4 - 5 chicken pieces in the flour and remove the excess flour.
- Then, double-coat chicken with the starch, remove excess powder.
- When the oil reaches the ideal temperature, gently put the chicken into the oil.
- Avoid adding an over-amount of chicken into the oil since the temperature will rapidly drop and take time to get back to the same temperature.
- Cook chicken for 3-4 minutes for thighs, about 2 minutes for breast meat.
- Take out the chicken on the cooling rack. Chicken is still cooking on the rack.
- After all chicken pieces are done, heat the oil to 350 F (180℃).
- Cook fried chicken a second time. Deep-fry it for 1 minute.
Karaage Sauce Ideas
Karaage chicken is already flavorful, so generally, you don’t need a dipping sauce. Yet, it is often served with a fresh lemon wedge.
My husband uses “Sweet chili sauce” and “Chinese garlic chili oil” for his taste.
Japanese Mayonnaise lovers called Mayolaah like dipping Karaage chicken in Japanese Mayo.
I recommend The Easy Japanese aurora sauce for kids, which is made of ketchup and Japanese mayo.
Fried chicken has been loved worldwide, Japanese fried chicken as well.
There are countless recipes for “Karaage Chicken” even in several languages, enjoy your journey to find your ultimate Karaage recipe.
Even I have been tried so many recipes to complete my mission, which is making the ultimate tender, juicy, and crispy “Karaage chicken” for my husband.
(He loves Karaage more than I.)
So far, we are satisfied with my recipe.
So, hoping this recipe goes to your recipe book!
How To Remove Skin And Bone From Chicken Thighs For Karaage Chicken
If you want to know how to remove skin and bone from chicken thighs, check out my cooking video.