Fry

Mochiko Chicken

October 20, 2021
5 Stars
Photo by Alana Kysar
Author Notes

There's nothing quite like fried chicken. It's crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and, when done right, packed with flavor. I think it's safe to say that most places have their own version, and Hawaii is no exception. This sweet rice flour–battered chicken is perfectly crunchy, salty-sweet, and highly addictive. It's one of my all-time favorite dishes, and I'm taken back to my childhood every single time I have it. While I believe it's best served warm with onigiri (aka triangle-shaped musubi), namasu (daikon and carrot salad), and takuan (pickled daikon radish), the way my mom serves it, it's equally great cold, chopped up, and tossed into a green salad with creamy Asian dressing or atop a bed of cold somen noodles.

Excerpted from Aloha Kitchen (Recipes from Hawaii) © 2019 by Alana Kysar. Reproduced by permission of Ten Speed Press. All rights reserved. —Alana Kysar

Test Kitchen Notes

Alana Kysa's mother taught her how to make this mochiko chicken recipe. Alana described the conversation she had with her mom about it: "It's a dish that, to this day, is my absolute favorite thing to eat on this planet. It's so intrinsically tied to my childhood that I can’t help but feel like I’m 8 years old whenever I smell it.

"When I asked her how she learned to make it, she said, 'I don’t know. Probably from a local cookbook.'

“'You mean your mom didn’t make it or teach you how to make it?' I asked.

“'Sure, she probably made it,' my mom explained, 'but I’m pretty sure I found the recipe in a book in high school and used that to make it for my family.'

“...'But Grandma made this dish too, right, and she never taught you?' I nearly demanded the answer to my question.

"'She probably made it, but no,' she said. And that was that.

"This recipe, my mother’s version of it, appears in my cookbook ... It went through five different rounds of testing, where I tried to alter the ratios, add more of this or that, and ultimately failed to improve upon it. In fact, the only change I made was to wrap the chicken in nori, adding a bit of my tie-dyed neon flair, if you will. It’s this magical mix of sweet and salty, lightly batter fried chicken that has Japanese origins but is very much a product of my home. Of Hawai‘i. Of my mom." —The Editors

Watch This Recipe
Mochiko Chicken
  • Prep time 5 hours 10 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 6 to 8
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • 1/4 cup mochiko flour (also known as sweet rice flour)
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions, white and light green parts (about 4 scallions), plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, extra finely grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Neutral oil, for frying
  • 3 to 4 sheets nori, cut into 1-inch-wide strips (optional)
  • 3 cups steamed rice
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Cut the chicken thighs into 2-inch-long strips and transfer to a medium bowl. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, mochiko, scallions, cornstarch, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and salt and whisk until combined. Pour over the chicken and mix to coat evenly. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours or preferably overnight.
  2. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and place a wire rack on top. Fill a Dutch oven or high-sided pot with oil to a depth of 2 inches and heat over medium-low heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 330°F to 340°F. Wrap each chicken piece with a strip of nori (if using).
  3. Without crowding the pot, add as many pieces of chicken as you can to the hot oil; the temperature will drop to between 315°F and 325°F. Fry the chicken, turning with a skimmer or long chopsticks to brown evenly, for 6 to 7 minutes, until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer registers 165°F. Remove with a skimmer or long chopsticks and let cool on the wire rack for 8 to 10 minutes. Continue with the remaining chicken.
  4. When ready to serve, garnish with the chopped scallions and serve with the rice.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • PowWow82
    PowWow82
  • smiths22630
    smiths22630
  • Danielle
    Danielle
  • Pauline
    Pauline

6 Reviews

PowWow82 July 5, 2021
This was delicious!! Not difficult at all... When I make something new I compare recipes and adjust based on what I like...only difference I made to this was increasing the garlic to 6 cloves and it wasn't as tedious wrapping the nori around the chicken as I thought it would be.. Absolutely amazing this was... Making again tonight.
 
smiths22630 January 11, 2021
made it tonight. i used the air fryer instead of oil frying. it wasn't crunchy but man was it good! i also made salt potatoes in butter (little ones) for a side option and it was really good (rice needs a sauce) but it was good either way, just drier. thanks for the recipe!
 
Danielle July 26, 2020
I made this but used a little bit of oil and almond milk to replace the eggs and only pan-fried the pieces. It was a hit!

Agreed with the other post that this is a forgiving recipe. You could probably cook this a ton of ways.
 
Danielle August 22, 2020
Update: made it again tonight but just left the eggs out and didn’t sub anything. Amazing!
 
Pauline May 27, 2020
Super easy and forgiving recipe! We have made it twice in the last two weeks. The ingredients were all things I had on hand and it took a little bit of prep time and we had a delicious dinner.
 
The T. February 2, 2020
This recipe is a little more work than I prefer in a meal, but very delicious. I made it without the nori, and it was very flavorful and a nice departure from traditional southern style fried chicken. I will definitely make it again. Perfect for a casual dinner party with friends or work potluck.