Fried chicken, whether it’s Southern, Japanese, or Korean, is one of my favourite foods of all time. Put simply, it would be on the menu for my last meal. It’s one of those dishes that strikes the perfect balance between flavor, texture and richness. The only downside about a really great
fried chicken (calories aside), is that it takes about a day to make.
Karaage (唐揚げ), also known as Tatsutaage (竜田揚げ), is the Japanese version of fried chicken. Pronounced kah-rah-ah-geh, the name literally means “Tang fried” (Tang as in the Chinese dynasty). Like Gyoza and Ramen, Karaage is an example of Wafu-Chuka (Chinese-style Japanese) cuisine, whereby dumplings, noodles, or in this case fried chicken, was adapted from the Chinese culinary repertoire and turned into something uniquely Japanese.
After being marinated in soy sauce, ginger and garlic, the two-bite nuggets of chicken are dredged in potato starch and deep fried until crisp. The potato starch creates a golden shell around the karaage with a lasting crispness which makes it perfect for packing into a bento lunch. Karaage also makes for a great summer picnic with some onigiri (rice balls).
I know someone is going to ask so I’ll address a few substitutions up-front. You can make Karaage with breast meat, but it will be dryer and less flavorful for the same reason why breast meat is healthier: it has less fat. Cornstarch can be substituted for the potato starch, however the texture won’t be the same. Karaage made with cornstarch has a dense crunchy texture like tortilla chips, while karaage made with potato starch fries up with a light crispy crust like a potato chip.
Personally, I also prefer potato starch to cornstarch as a thickening agent, so I’ve done away with cornstarch in my kitchen. In the US, you can get potato starch at Whole Foods under the Bob’s Red Mill brand.
Equipment you'll need:
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