Japanese izakaya food is definitely one of our favorites! You can always catch us in our regular spots in LA Little Tokyo ordering tons of small plates of food along with several drinks. An izakaya is basically a Japanese tavern or pub. You go to catch up and relax with friends while sharing lots of small tapas-style plates and order lots of beer/shochu/sake. One of the classic and most simple izakaya foods is chicken karaage (Japanese fried chicken).
Perfectly crispy & crunchy on the outside and flavorful & juicy on the inside! These bite-sized pieces of fried chicken are perfect with a cold beer or sake. Just a squeeze of lemon on top and you are all set.
American Fried Chicken vs. Chicken Karaage
Unlike typical American fried chicken, karaage is coated with potato starch instead of all-purpose flour. The potato starch creates a perfectly crisp texture! Also when looking for potato starch you will often times see potato flour. This is not the same thing!!! Be sure you are buying POTATO STARCH! Try your local Asian market to find it.
Just like a buttermilk fried chicken our recipe requires the chicken pieces to sit in a wet marinade. Our marinade is a simple mix of soy sauce, sake, sesame oil, sugar, ginger, and garlic. We’re trying to add an extra dimension of flavor to the chicken but not overpower it.
One other main difference is the method for breading the chicken. Unlike buttermilk fried chicken where you take the chicken out of the wet marinade and dredge in flour, we add the potato starch straight into the marinating chicken. This process will create a sort of uneven coating that will give each piece of karaage character!
Let us know your favorite Japanese izakaya food in the comments below and we might just make a recipe for it!!!
Other Recipes to Try
- 2 lb boneless skinless chicken thigh cut into 1" bite-size pieces
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sake
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp grated garlic
- 1/2 cup potato starch
- vegetable oil for frying
- lemon wedges for garnish
- In a large mixing bowl combine the soy sauce, sake, sesame oil, sugar, ginger, and garlic.
- Add in the chicken thigh and mix thoroughly. Cover and let marinate in the fridge for 1 to 4 hours.
- When you are ready to start cooking the chicken fill a pot with 1 inch of vegetable oil and heat until it reaches 340 degrees F.
- Stir the mixing bowl of chicken to ensure all pieces are coated with marinade. Add in the ½ cup potato starch and lightly toss to combine. This process will create a sort of uneven coating that will give each piece of karaage character.
- Fry the karaage in batches until light golden brown, 5-7 minutes. Rest the chicken on a wire cooling rack to drain excess oil.
- Bring the oil up to 375 degrees F and deep fry the karaage a second time for 30 seconds or until they develop a golden brown exterior.
- Rest the chicken back on the wire rack to drain excess oil.
- Serve immediately with lemon wedges. Enjoy!