Japanese fried chicken

Japanese fried chicken

Laura Edwards

It seems fried chicken is everywhere you turn in Japan. KFCs are numerous, and the homegrown version, karaage, can be bought from convenience stores, ramen shops, vending machines, department store food halls, school cafeterias, supermarkets, street stalls, izakaya (boozers with food), train station kiosks… basically anywhere food is sold. It is enormously popular – and why shouldn’t it be? It’s just so damn delicious – all crunchy crust and hot chicken juice. It’s simply exquisite – and exquisitely simple.

Considering this may be the best fried chicken in the world, it is incredibly not difficult


Quantity Ingredient
4 chicken thighs, boneless and skin on
cornflour, for dredging
oil, for deep-frying

for deep-frying

Quantity Ingredient
100ml sake
3 tablespoons mirin
3 tablespoons vinegar
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons sriracha or similar hot chilli sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
10 garlic cloves, peeled
4 shallots, roughly chopped
or 2 banana shallots, roughly chopped
15g peeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

For the seasoned flour (optional)

Quantity Ingredient
250g cornflour
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon dashi powder
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


  1. For the marinade, whizz all the ingredients together in a food processor until no big chunks remain (it doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth).
  2. Cut the chicken thighs into pieces no bigger than about 3 cm at their thickest point – most thighs will yield 4 pieces, but you should get 5 or 6 out of bigger ones. The main thing to bear in mind is that they need to cook quickly, before the crust begins to burn. Basically, you should err on the side of small. Place the chicken pieces in the marinade and coat them, then leave in the fridge for at least an hour and up to 48 hours.
  3. For the seasoned flour, if using, simply combine all the ingredients until the seasonings are well distributed.
  4. To cook, pour at least 1 litre oil into a very deep, wide saucepan, making sure it comes no higher than halfway up the sides, and heat to no higher than 170ºC. Remove the chicken from the marinade, letting any excess drip off, and dredge in the cornflour or seasoned flour, ensuring that all the nooks and crannies are well coated – this will help maximise crust and minimise burning. Carefully drop the chicken into the oil in small batches, checking the temperature periodically to ensure it is between 160 and 170ºC, and fry for 6–8 minutes. If you have a meat thermometer, use it: the chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 65ºC. Or use a knife to cut into the biggest piece of chicken at its thickest point. If it’s pink, back into the oil it goes. If it’s not pink, it’s karaage time!
  5. Drain on kitchen paper and, if you’re not using the seasoned flour, finish with a little salt and pepper. This chicken is so juicy it doesn’t really need a dip, but it’s good with mayo, ponzu, or just good ol’ soy sauce and a wedge of lime.
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