Japanese kara-age (fried chicken), single handedly tempted me away from the virtues of being a vegetarian, into a chicken loving carnivore. Admittedly, I was for the most of the time, a part time vegetarian, but it was kara-age that finialised my decision into appreciating all things chicken.
kara-age in Japan is like no other I’ve tried, served with mayonnaise as a staple dish in most izakayas, it is perfection.
In my first year in Japan, Saturday nights were spent with my good friend Leila in our favourite izakaya, proceedings would always be as follows: a bowl of kara-age (sometimes even two), a plate of cabbage (I could also write an article about my love of cabbage but I wouldn’t bore you with that), takoyaki and fried potato, plus highballs on tap.
The start of the night always began with just us two, but by the end of the night, we’d been befriended by drunken men, communicating amazingly well even though our command of each others’ languages was basic to say the least. However the star of the show was always the same: kara-age. The day after the izakaya always proceeded in the same manner: waking up with the most horrendous hangover, meeting Leila after we’d dragged ourselves out of bed and curing our hangovers with a trip to family mart; what did we order? Fried chicken of course. And a grape fanta for the sugar hit we both needed. I feel no shame. We never changed our order, girls of habit and easily pleased.
Recently trips to izakayas are an occasional thing rather than a Saturday night ritual, but my love for kara-age has remained.
I now enjoy it in a more civilized manner in my local teishoku place, its goes by the name of yurinchi there (to confuse things). And just like before, I cannot make a trip without ordering yurinchi and a nama biru for the perfect accompaniment.
Kara-age can be also made a home with a no fuss method. It goes a little something like this:
- 500g of chicken thigh
- 1 egg
- 1 thumb of grated ginger
- 2 gloves of grated garlic
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sake
- 2 tbsp of sugar
- 6 tbsp of potato starch
- salt and pepper to season
- 1 tbsp of mayonnaise to marinate, plus your desired amount for dipping!
Marinate the chicken:
– Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and place in a bowl
– Beat the egg and pour in with the chicken, along with all other ingredients except the potato starch, mix well.
– Sprinkle the potato starch on top.
– Now your chicken is marinated, cover the bowl with cling film and leave in the fridge for around 5 hours.
Frying the chicken:
– Fry in shallow oil on medium heat until the chicken starts to go brown.
– When the chicken is almost ready, raise the heat to allow it to go nice and crispy.
With rice, miso soup, salad and a side of mayonnaise for dipping. Don’t forget the nama biru.