Japanese fried chicken thigh fillets with a light ultra crisp coating, our home version of chicken karaage was served over rice with shredded cabbage and pickled ginger on the side.
What’s the coating? Starch. Potato starch, if you have it but cornstarch will do too. Not wheat flour, please, which will make the coating heavy. A flour coating doesn’t stay crisp long enough either from our experience.
So, just dredge chicken thigh fillets in starch and fry? Basically, yes, but we prefer to season the chicken with soy sauce, mirin and a bit of grated ginger before the starch touches it.
So, season, coat with starch and fry? Yes. But we double fry. Ever since we realized the difference between single frying and double frying, we never looked back. The technique gives the chicken a very crispy crust while the inside remains moist.
And the sides?
We noticed that most rice meals in Japan (well, in Osaka especially) included a hefty amount of shredded cabbage so we decided to serve our chicken karaage with it.
It’s just white cabbage sliced as thinly as you can manage. You pile it on top of the rice beside the chicken or you can opt to serve the cabbage in a separate bowl. No dressing.
The kalamansi halves in the photo were in lieu of lemon slices which we had none of on the night we had the chicken karaage. The kalamansi juice were squeezed over the chicken, not the cabbage.
And the pickled ginger? You’d normally see that on the side of a sashimi plate but we’ve been enjoying pickled cabbage with just about any seafood or meat dish these days. With fried dishes, especially. It isn’t a requirement for enjoying chicken karaage; it’s just a personal preference for us.
Chicken Karaage Rice Bowl
- 500 grams chicken thigh fillets (skin on is recommended)
- ¼ cup Japanese soy sauce
- ¼ cup mirin
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 ¼ cups potato starch you may need more, or less, depending on the size of your chicken pieces
- cooking oil
- cooked Japanese rice to serve
- shredded cabbage to serve
- kalamansi halves (lemon wedges are traditional) to serve
- Wipe the chicken thigh fillets dry with paper towels then cut into cubes. We like 2"x2" cubes but you can make them slightly larger or smaller than that.
- Place the chicken cubes in a bowl, add the soy sauce, mirin and ginger, and mix well. Cover the bowl and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- In a fryer, heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of at least three inches.
- Drain the chicken and dredge each piece in starch.
- Over medium heat, fry the chicken cubes in batches. Three to four minutes per batch or just until the coating starts to turn crisp. The chicken will look pale at this point but don't worry. As each batch finishes cooking, transfer to a rack.
- When all the chicken cubes have been fried, turn up the heat to high.
- Fry the chicken cubes a second time, in batches, for another two minutes.
- Scoop cooked Japanese rice in bowls, pile shredded cabbage and kalamansi halves (or lemon wedges) on one side and arrange several pieces of chicken karaage on top.
- Squeeze kalamansi (or lemon) juice over the chicken before eating.