Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)

Karaage [ka-RAH-gay] has become one of my favorite snacks. It’s kind of like popcorn chicken with an Asian twist. This recipe requires marinating to make sure the chicken is well-seasoned–which you can do in an hour or so, but I like to marinate overnight. Karaage is often served in Japanese restaurants as an appetizer with a wedge of lemon and eaten with chopsticks, but I generally skip the lemon and just munch it straight from the bowl as is. 

1 pound chicken boneless, skin-on thighs, chopped bite-size
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups canola oil
1 cup cornstarch

2 gallon-sized food storage bags
measuring cups and spoons
large (12-inch) sauté pan [deep skillet]
instant-read thermometer
kitchen tongs
wire cooling rack

1. Marinate chicken in mixture of soy sauce, garlic, vinegar, ginger, and sugar in first storage bag at least 1 hour.
2. Heat oil to 350 degrees in pan over medium-high heat. Place cornstarch into remaining storage bag.
3. Shaking off excess marinade, dredge chicken in cornstarch, making sure each piece is well-coated.
4. In batches, fry coated pieces in hot oil until chicken is lightly golden — about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to rack.
5. In batches, return fried chicken to pan and fry until golden brown — about 30 seconds. Transfer to rack.

• 1 1/2 ounces gingerroot yields about 3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
• 3 medium cloves garlic yield about 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
• Traditionally, karaage is fried with potato starch but cornstarch is a good substitute for a light crispy coating. Do not substitute with flour.
• No thermometer? No problem! Dip tip of wooden spoon into hot oil. When oil froths around tip, it’s ready.
• Take care to remove any large remaining fried bits from oil between batches.
• If chicken browns too quickly, add a few more pieces (if there’s room) or reduce heat to medium.

1 hour, 15 minutes

4 servings

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