I love learning about other culture’s food and one of my favorite dishes to try is fried chicken – I think we can agree that it’s a universal favorite! Chicken Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken) is one of my favorite ways to make fried chicken – the marinated chicken thigh is super juicy and flavorful from the soy-sake marinade, and the potato starch makes for a crispy crust. Each bite is dipped in a spicy garlic mayo sauce – you’re going to love this one!
Watch the Chicken Karaage Recipe Video Below!
Ingredients for Chicken Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)
I love this chicken karaage recipe because only a few ingredients will make crispy, juicy chicken. Firstly, here are the ingredients you will need!
- Chicken Thighs (I use skinless but you can keep the skin on as well!)
- Light Soy Sauce
- Sesame Oil
- White Pepper
- Potato Starch
- Neutral Oil for Frying
I haven’t found a substitute for sake that I love, as I find that it has a distinct flavor profile that is hard to replace in a recipe. You can try sherry, mirin, shaoxing wine, rice vinegar, or even chicken stock, but I would highly encourage you to use sake if you can.
I get asked all the time if you can sub black pepper for white pepper – and my answer is, it depends BUT you need to watch the ratio. White pepper has a milder flavor profile than black pepper, so it’s not a 1-1 substitute. I would start with less black pepper and add as you go. (But really, you should have white pepper in your pantry! It’s a staple in mine!)
This is a KEY ingredient in this recipe, as it is what makes for the unique crunch! I get mine from 99 Ranch but I’ve also seen it sold on Amazon. The bag may be labeled ‘potato starch‘ or ‘katakuriko’. If you cannot find this, you can sub with tapioca flour or cornstarch – you can drizzle a little bit of marinade into the flour or starch to create some craggily bits.
JAPANESE MAYO (KEWPIE)
My favorite mayo is Japanese mayo or Kewpie – it’s different from ‘regular’ mayo as it uses only egg yolks (versus the whole egg) and rice vinegar. This means the mayo is richer, thicker, and has a sweet, tanginess to it that is irresistible! I love to have a bottle of this in my pantry at all times. You can sub with regular mayo if you don’t have it on hand – this will be used for the optional spicy garlic mayo dipping sauce!
Chicken Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken): Recipe Instructions
1. Cut the chicken thigh meat
The first step in making this recipe is cutting the chicken into 1″ pieces. Make sure all the pieces are cut to similar sizes so they cook evenly.
1. Marinate the chicken thigh pieces for Chicken Karaage
Next, place the cut chicken thigh into a bowl with soy sauce, sake, sesame oil, black pepper, salt, grated garlic and ginger. Mix well with your hands and let marinate for at least an hour in the fridge (overnight for best results and flavor).
3. Coat the Marinated Chicken In Potato Starch
Potato starch (Katakuriko) is the key to great Japanese Fried Chicken! The potato starch gives the chicken a deliciously light crust vs. cornstarch or flour. Here is a brand that I look for in my Asian market.
After the chicken is marinated, coat the chicken in the potato starch and pack in the dredge so it sticks to the chicken. You don’t want to see any bald spots on the chicken! Finally, place it on a baking sheet to rest while you heat the oil.
4. Fry the Chicken
When frying chicken, the most important aspect to keep in mind is oil temperature. Heat the oil to 350F, and fry the chicken in batches and ensure that the oil temperature does not drop below 300F. If the oil temperature drops too low, the chicken will not get crispy, so take out some chicken and fry in small batches if this is the case.
5. Double Fry the Chicken
Fry the chicken for 4-5 minutes at 350F. Remove the chicken and then let the oil temperature return to 350F, then fry the chicken a second time which is going to make it EXTRA CRISPY!
Let the chicken rest on a wire rack while you make the Spicy Garlic Sauce!
6. Make the spicy mayo dipping sauce
For the dipping sauce, make sure you are using Japanese mayo which is made from only from egg yolks vs. typical American mayonnaise which uses the whole egg. The brightness from the lemon really elevates this dipping sauce to compliment the crispy, savory chicken.
If you liked this Chicken Karaage recipe, check out some of the most popular fried chicken recipes on the blog!
PACK IN YOUR DREDGE
Make sure your chicken has no bald spots and packing in the coating well. This will give the chicken that crunch we love fried chicken for! Shake off any excess before frying.
Do not let your frying oil drop below 300-325F when frying! I highly recommend you use a thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature. If you see it dropping below 325F, fry your chicken in batches. Frying at a low temperature will result in too much moisture (AKA SOGGY!)
This is optional but I like to squeeze a little lemon juice over the karaage before eating. I find that the lemon juice gives a nice brightness and acidity that balances nicely with the fried chicken. Give it a try if you haven’t done this before!
- Infrared Thermometer or Candy Thermometer
Spicy Mayo Dipping Sauce
- 4 tbsp Japanese mayo
- 2 tbsp sriracha
- 2 cloves garlic grated
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- Cut boneless chicken thigh into 1" pieces.
- Marinate with garlic, ginger, light soy sauce, sake, sesame oil, white pepper, and salt. Cover and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Take 1 cup of potato starch (katakuriko) and dredge chicken. Make sure to pack the coating in well with your hands. Shake off any excess potato starch.
- Heat oil to 350°F and fry chicken in batches for 4 minutes. Ensure the oil does not drop down below 300°F by frying in smaller batches. Remove from oil and use a mesh strainer to strain any loose pieces of coating.
- Return oil to 350°F and fry chicken for a 2nd time for 1-2 minutes or until the color is a deep, golden brown.
- OPTIONAL: Mix together Japanese mayo, sriracha, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper for an amazing spicy mayo dipping sauce.
- OPTIONAL: Squeeze fresh lemon juice over chicken before serving.