With Karaage we define a cooking technique that involves the breading and frying of different ingredients. Its most popular version features Tori – 鳥, the chicken. Here is one of its versions, also ideal for our aperitifs at home!
I love fried food, in all its flavors and nuances.
Obviously, we try not to overdo eating it, but at least once a week, we decide to indulge our gluttony with a crunchy and tasty dish.
Contrary to what is used to thinks, here in Japan the fried food, thanks to the influences of some foreign countries, is a cooking technique that has found its deserved place in the gastronomy of the country.
Starting from the famous tempura ・ て ん ぷ ら 、 arrived with the Portuguese conquistadores in the 16th century, up to the Korokke and the Katsu bring for the first time by the French embassy in 1800, with the passing of time the recipes are been modified, adapted to the tastes and customs of the Japanese people, becoming typical dishes of the great Yoshoku cookbook ・ 洋 食 (Japanese recipes with foreign influence).
Perhaps, between all that, the one that has most attracted the Japanese palate, is the fried chicken commonly known as Karaage ・ 唐 揚 げ.
Karaage: from China to the tables of Japanese families
Arrived from China in the 20th century. contrary to what one thinks, it does not involve the use of chicken. Karaage refers to the cooking technique which consists of a first breading with flour and potato starch and the subsequent immersion frying in boiling oil.
It can be used with a wide variety of ingredients and originally tofu was a must!
Depending on the area of the country, you may find it called differently. The preparations, in fact, involve the use of slightly different ingredients with results (for some) decidedly perceptible.
An example? If you visit Nara, in addition to the classic Karaage, you can also find the Tatsutaage.
Its name derives from the river near the town whose trees, with the arrival of autumn, are colored yellow and orange, looking very similar to the golden and crunchy covering of the dish. The most passionate and experienced eaters say that the Tatsutaage is less crispy, while the Kaarage is crispy on the outside and “juicy” on the inside (others claim the opposite).
This difference is due to the different types of breading:
- Tatsutaage -> Only Potato Starch
Karaage -> Corn starch and flour
Although Karaage does not mean Fried Chicken, this is the most popular version today.
The best result you can obtain is by using the thighs without bone and still covered by skin. They are in fact one of the richest areas of fat, capable of giving your dish a much loved Umami flavor, and the presence of the skin helps to achieve a pleasant crunchiness. If you come to Japan, buying it will not be difficult (shops, stalls, supermarkets, and conbini are super supplied), but if instead, you decide to prepare it at home, here is its recipe.
- 3 tablespoons Soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Sake
- 2 spoons Mirin
- 1 tablespoon plenty of finely chopped ginger (no powder)
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic (no powder)
- 500 grams of chicken
- Potato Starch (or Corn) q.b
- Flour q
- Frying oil q.b
Chop your garlic and ginger. In a large bowl combine them with Sake, Mirin and Soy Sauce.
Cut your chicken into pieces that are easy to eat and take with your chopsticks (or a fork). Marinate it with the previously prepared sauce and massage with your hands for a few minutes.
Seal and leave to rest for at least 15-20 minutes.
Prepare your breading by mixing the same % of flour and starch in a bowl. Add a few pinches of salt. Pour your oil in a large pan.
For the perfect fried crust, the chicken pieces must be completely immersed.
After this time, take your chicken and proceed with the breading, always removing the excess flour.
Heat the oil until it reaches a temperature of 160 degrees.
(If you don’t have a thermometer, insert the tip of a toothpick and, if as soon as it comes into contact with the oil around it, lots of bubbles start forming, it’s ready).
Dip your breaded chicken pieces, being careful not to burn yourself, and let them soak for 2 – 3 minutes, checking them constantly so they don’t burn.
Once you have reached the color you prefer, place them on absorbent paper for a few minutes, sprinkle them with a little salt and serve them together with a good salad and a small bowl of mayonnaise!
Also ideal as excellent Aperitif!
Where to it in Tokyo!
If you want to eat the best Karaage in the country, well the “Japan Karaage Association” can give you the right answer!
In the Karaage Grand Prix 2018, the Golden Metal to the best Karaage restaurant went to:
- Kameido Youjou Ryouri Takano (Kameido Koto-Ku Tokyo)
- Nakatsu Karaage Kei 中津からあげ 渓 (Shinagawa)
- Yakiton Mako-chan やきとん まこちゃん (Minato)
- Nogata Shokudou 野方食堂 (Nakano)
I’ve personally never been, but they have been elected some of the most delicious Karaage restaurant!
We should give a try!
You should also try other recipes like: