Japanese Fried Chicken


I know very few people who don’t like fried chicken, and almost none who can resist chicken karaage. These nugget-size bites also taste great cold, so I usually make a big batch, enough for the next day’s after- school snack. They are just as tasty with beer at an izakaya as they are at a picnic on a sunny day. The last time I made this was for a potluck with old college friends where, as luck would have it, everyone brought fried chicken. I traded some of my chicken karaage for some of my friend Welly’s Carolina-style buttermilk fried chicken. We drank rosé straight from the bottle and sat back to marvel at our luck of having lots of fried chickens and lots of old friends.


2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

4 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup soy sauce

¼ cup sake

2 tablespoons sugar

3 pounds boneless, skin-on chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 ½ cups potato starch Vegetable oil, for frying

Ketchup, for dipping

Lemon wedges, for serving

In a large bowl, mix together the ginger, garlic, soy sauce,
sake, and sugar. Add the chicken and mix to combine. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight.

Put the potato starch in a large wide bowl. In batches and using tongs, slightly shake off the liquid seasoning and add the chicken pieces to the potato starch, tossing to coat evenly.

Pour the vegetable oil into a wide, deep skillet to a depth of 1 inch. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until a small piece of batter fries and oats upon contact. In batches, fry the chicken until the outside is crispy brown and the chicken is cooked through, about
5 minutes per batch. As they are cooked, transfer the chicken pieces to a paper towel–lined plate to absorb any excess oil.

To double-fry it for added crunch, allow the chicken to cool slightly (at least 5 minutes), and then re-fry it in the same oil for another
 5 minutes or so, until the skin is fully browned. Serve with ketchup for dipping and lemon wedges for squeezing over the chicken bites.

Note: Karaage is a Japanese cooking technique that’s similar to tempura. Do as the Japanese and dip these in ketchup for a Western air.