Let’s make Karaage (Japanese fried chicken), one of the greatest fried chickens in the world! It’s exceptionally flavorful, juicy and ultra crispy.
US Customary Metric
1.5 lb boneless, skin-on chicken thighs (roughly 4-6 pieces; read the blog post)
½ tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp potato starch/cornstarch (more if necessary; read blog post)
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour (plain flour) (more if necessary)
4 cups neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, rice bran, canola, etc) (for deep frying)
1 knob ginger (½ tsp grated ginger)
1 clove garlic
½ Tbsp soy sauce
½ Tbsp sake (you can substitute it with dry sherry or Chinese rice wine or skip)
½ tsp sesame oil (roasted)
lemon (for taste and garnish)
Japanese mayonnaise (optional for dipping)
shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice) (optional for spicy taste)
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
Gather all the ingredients.
Cut each chicken thigh into 2-inch pieces and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Grate the ginger (you will only need ½ tsp) and mince the garlic (I use a garlic presser).
In a large bowl, combine ginger, garlic, ½ Tbsp soy sauce, ½ Tbsp sake, and ½ tsp sesame oil. Whisk all together.
Add the chicken to the bowl and mix with your hands. Cover and keep in the refrigerator to marinate for 30 minutes.
Pour the oil into a heavy-bottomed pot (I used a Dutch oven) and heat the oil to 325ºF (163ºC) on medium heat.
Meanwhile, prepare potato starch and all-purpose flour in separate piles.
First, lightly dredge each chicken piece in the flour and dust off the excess flour. Then dredge the chicken in the potato starch and remove excess starch.
Continue with the remaining chicken.
When the oil temperature has reached 325ºF (163ºC) (insert a wooden chopstick in the oil and see if small bubbles appear around it) gently submerge each chicken piece into the oil. Do not overcrowd; add 3-5 pieces at a time. If you put many pieces in the oil, the oil temperature will drop quickly and chicken will end up absorbing too much oil.
First Deep Frying: Deep fry for 90 seconds, or until the outside of the chicken is a light golden color. If the chicken changes color too quickly, then the oil temperature is too high. Either put a few more pieces of chicken in the oil or lower the heat. Controlling oil temperature at all times is very important for deep frying. Transfer to a wire rack to drain excess oil.
The chicken will continue to cook with the remaining heat on the wire rack. Continue with the remaining chicken. Between batches, pick up crumbs in the oil with a fine-mesh sieve. This keeps the oil clean and prevents it from becoming darker.
2nd Deep Frying: Now heat the oil to 350ºF (177ºC). Deep fry for 45 seconds, or until the skin is nice golden color and crispy. Transfer to a wire rack to drain excess oil and continue with the remaining chicken.
Chicken on the left is after the 1st frying and one on the right is after the 2nd frying. You can see the chicken is slightly darker in color.
To Serve and Store
Serve the chicken hot. Karaage is often served with a wedge of lemon and Japanese mayo (sprinkle Shichimi Togarashi for a bit of spice). To store, deep fry all the chicken, let cool completely, and keep in an airtight container. You can store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer for up to a month.