I have been meaning to experiment on this food item ever since I tasted Tokyo Tokyo’s Sumo Remix with Fried Chicken Karaage so I finally got the chance to experiment on it. I was having a bit of a problem finding the potato starch and the sake which are key elements in the recipe. Luckily I was able to get the potato starch from the nearby Korean grocery store in our area which also sells some Japanese products although I got the sake from the mall. The potato starch can actually be substituted with cornstarch but I don’t like substitutes if I haven’t had the chance to try out the recipe first. I am OC that way. :)
I got this recipe from one of the blogs that I follow constantly, this is from Makiko Itoh at JustHungry.com. Thanks for this recipe Makiko!
Prep time: 10 min :: Cook time: 20 min :: Total time: 30 min
Yield: 10 to 12 pieces
Serving size: 3-4 pieces as part of a Japanese meal or in a bento
· 10 oz (300g) boneless chicken thighs
· 1 piece fresh ginger, (about the size of your thumb)
· 3 Tbs. soy sauce
· 1 Tbs. sake or dry sherry
· about 1/2 cup Potato starch (katakuriko) or cornstarch, (enough to coat the chicken. Potato starch is better, but cornstarch will do)
· peanut oil or other vegetable oil, (for deep frying)
· a few drops sesame oil, (optional; add to the frying oil for extra flavor)
Cut up the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces. You can take off the skin if you like, though it does make the chicken crispier.
Peel and grate the piece of ginger. A microplane grater works great for this task.
Put the chicken pieces in a bowl. Add the grated ginger, soy sauce and sake, and mix well. Let marinate for a minimum of 10 minutes. Around 30 minutes is ideal. If marinating for more than an hour (say, overnight), use 1 tablespoon soy sauce, then add the other 2 tablespoons just before you're ready to cook them; this prevents the salt in the soy sauce from drawing out too much moisture from the chicken.
Heat the oil; if using a temperature-controlled fryer or a thermometer, aim for 180°C / 355°F. If not, a test with a single piece of chicken or a small piece of skin. Toss enough potato or cornstarch into the marinated chicken (drain off a bit of the marinade if it's too watery first) so that each piece is completely coated. Fry the chicken pieces a few at a time until a deep golden brown.
Drain well - a wire rack is best for this, but paper towels work too.
Serve with lemon wedges. Some people like to add a sprinkling of grated yuzu peel and/or sansho pepper.
Potato starch flour, or katakuriko, is standard for karaage in Japan. It creates a wonderfully light, crispy, greaseless surface. It's not that easy to get a hold of in many places though (look in a Japanese grocery store), so cornstarch is an acceptable substitute.
My Personal Notes:
I had actually doubled the quantities so I doubled up on the ingredients here. I think the chicken would have tasted even more delicious with more time to let it marinade and will definitely make this again but this time will try to marinate it overnight and see if that changes anything. The chicken courtesy of the potato starch had a very crispy covering. Thin but crispy layer(which tasted like chicken skin chicharon) unlike when you dredge chicken in flour.This recipe just made me a potato starch convert. Also, letting the chicken hang to drip on a wire rack after it has fried to a golden brown is really advisable because if you don't there is the tendency that the chicken comes out kind of oily. The ginger taste was dominant and made all the difference in taste while I think the sake also did contribute to the flavor as well as tenderizing the chicken more. It was juicy to eat as I bit into it and the refreshing taste of ginger filled my mouth somehow compensating for the heaviness of a fried dish. The sesame oil I added to the oil before frying also added another dimension to the chicken making it more authentic. These days one of my favorites in the kitchen is my bottle of sesame oil. :)
P.S. I am making my descriptions more graphic and complete as I got feedback from a reader that she wanted this so. Thanks Tza! :)