Sweet & Spicy Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)

October  4, 2022
3 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Molly Fitzsimons.
  • Prep time 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

If you're looking for the perfect game time snack, look no further than this karaage. It's Japanese style, crunchy fried chicken. This version, which uses boneless, skinless chicken pieces (thighs or breast both work great), is garlicky, it's gingery, it's umami-y. And marinated in a soy sauce-mirin mixture, coated in potato starch, and double-fried in sizzling oil, it's got the perfect plush interior and crispy-crunchy outside.

To make things sweet and hot, we'll go one step further than our marinade: We'll toss the fried karaage in schichimi togarashi (a Japanese spice blend containing red pepper, sesame seeds, dried orange peel, and more) and dip it in some wasabi Kewpie mayo (aka, Kewpie mayo with a dash of wasabi mixed in, to your taste preference). The result is ends up combining the sweet and salty umami of the soy, the sharpness of the ginger and garlic, and the kick of the togarashi and wasabi at the end. It's the best of all worlds. —Rick Martinez

Test Kitchen Notes

For more Sweet Heat with Rick Martinez, check out all of the videos in the series here. —The Editors

What You'll Need
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Sweet & Spicy Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce, preferably dark
  • 2 tablespoons dry sake
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 3 pounds), cut into 2-inch pieces, or 3 pounds chicken wings, flats and drumettes separated, or 3 pounds firm winter or summer squash, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 cup potato starch (katakuriko) or cornstarch
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Lemon wedges, cucumber slices, Japanese mayonnaise preferably Kewpie, Shichimi Togarashi, and your favorite hot sauce(s), for serving
  1. Toss chicken, ginger, garlic, sake, mirin, soy sauce and sugar together in a large zip-top freezer bag set inside a large bowl, until chicken is well coated in marinade. Toss chicken pieces in marinade to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours.
  2. Pour oil into a large heavy pot fitted with thermometer to come halfway up sides. Heat over high until thermometer registers 300°F.
  3. Whisk potato starch, flour, salt and pepper together in a large bowl until completely combined. Working with a few pieces at a time, dredge chicken in starch mixture, turning to coat and packing into crevices. Shake to remove excess and transfer to a large plate. Working in batches, fry chicken, moving pieces occasionally and adjusting heat to maintain temperature, until just starting to brown, about 4 minutes per batch. Chicken will not be fully cooked through. Transfer to a sheet tray lined with paper towels to drain. If using very large chicken wings or drumsticks, you may need to add 2 to 4 minutes to the fry time, the crust should be a pale golden color when it is done with the first fry.
  4. Increase heat until thermometer registers 375°F. Working in batches, fry chicken, moving pieces occasionally and adjusting heat to maintain temperature, until deep golden brown, about 60 seconds per batch. About 90 seconds for larger wings or drumsticks.
  5. Serve hot or at room temperature, with squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of hot sauce with cucumber on the side.

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Rick Martinez

Recipe by: Rick Martinez

Rick Martinez is currently living his dream—cooking, eating and enjoying the Mexican Pacific coast in Mazatlán. He is finishing his first cookbook, Under the Papaya Tree, food from the seven regions of Mexico and loved traveling the country so much, he decided to buy a house on the beach. He is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit, New York Times and hosts live, weekly cooking classes for Food Network Kitchens. Earlier this year, he was nominated for a James Beard Award for “How to win the Cookie Swap” in Bon Appétit’s holiday issue.

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