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If you’re looking for the BEST crunchy Japanese chicken recipe, then this is the one you’ve been waiting for! My kitchen-tested, time-tested, and taste-tested recipe for crunchy Japanese chicken has people around me saying that it’s the best they’ve ever had! And these are actual JAPANESE people! I know you’re going to love it, so you HAVE to try it now!

Watch how to make Crunchy Japanese Chicken

What is crunchy Japanese chicken?

First of all, if you’re an astute reader of this site, you’ll know that I’ve shared this exact recipe in my Karaage don post. I decided to share just the recipe for the chicken, because, let’s face it: the chicken is the main star of the dish!

The name for this is karaage and you may even find it under the name “Japanese fried chicken”. Whatever you call it, it’s an incredibly delicious take on fried chicken! Having spent most of my life in the Southern U.S., where people take pride in their fried chicken, I have to say, the Japanese make some MEAN fried chicken!

Forgoing the use of spices, crunchy Japanese chicken is seasoned with more Asian-centric ingredients (who would have thought!). Soy sauce, garlic, ginger make the main flavoring agents, and if you think that’s not enough, then you obviously haven’t had good crunchy Japanese chicken!

But what separates this from the classic Southern fried chicken that we know and love in America?

The name for this is karaage and you may even find it under the name “Japanese fried chicken”. Whatever you call it, it’s an incredibly delicious take on fried chicken! Having spent most of my life in the Southern U.S., where people take pride in their fried chicken, I have to say, the Japanese make some MEAN fried chicken!

Forgoing the use of spices, crunchy Japanese chicken is seasoned with more Asian-centric ingredients (who would have thought!). Soy sauce, garlic, ginger make the main flavoring agents, and if you think that’s not enough, then you obviously haven’t had good crunchy Japanese chicken!

But what separates this from the classic Southern fried chicken that we know and love in America?

What makes crunchy Japanese chicken so special?

The secret is in the crust! Instead of going with a heavy dredge, most places in Japan focus on using good quality chicken, a light seasoning, and potato starch.

Like all foods in Japan, the quality of the ingredient should be the main star. Many places that pride themselves on good crunchy Japanese chicken focus on using domestic chicken from reputable farms.

These days, with crunchy Japanese chicken as widely available as it is, you can find places that use lower-quality chicken. But trust me, if a place prides itself on their fried chicken, they’re using quality, domestically raised chicken!

The second secret is using a very light seasoning. Having eaten a lot of fried chicken back in the U.S., the seasonings can often overpower the flavor of the meat. In Japan, standard karaage is marinated for only 5 – 10 minutes, then fried. This allows just enough time for the marinade to permeate the surface of the meat, but still allow you to enjoy the full flavor of the chicken.

The third secret is a light dredging in potato starch. When it fries, it gives a beautiful glass-like crunch to the chicken that is both light and absolutely crunchy.

Why is MY crunchy Japanese chicken so special?

While I love the traditional karaage, I can’t shake off my love for strong flavors! In order to create a delicious fried chicken, I have melded both American techniques with Japanese expertise! Here is how my Japanese fried chicken is different and so good!

1. Batter it up!

As I mentioned earlier, traditional karaage isn’t battered. My crunchy Japanese chicken, however, is lightly battered. The marinade serves as the liquid component and by adding just a bit of flour, I create a light batter that will give wonderful crunch.

2. Dust it off!

Next, I dust it with potato starch, just as the Japanese do! This double coating gives it that classic crunch that Southern fried chicken has, along with that glass-like crispness of delicious Japanese karaage!

3. Triple Fry!

But what good is all this battering if the chicken is overcooked and dry, or worse, raw in the middle? I use a triple-fry technique that will not only completely cook the chicken while still keeping it incredibly juicy, but the technique will result in ULTRA crunchy chicken that will stay crunchy for HOURS!

Why should I triple fry my chicken?

The technique works like this: 

  1. Fry for one minute
  2. Remove and rest for 30 seconds
  3. Fry for another minute
  4. Remove and rest for another 30 seconds
  5. Fry for one last minute

So why not just submerge the chicken and let it fry for the whole 3 minutes, instead of constantly adding and removing it from the oil?

When you fry food, small tunnels are created in the crust to let steam out. When you take it out of the oil and rest, the steam tends to condense and makes the tunnels slighly moist, losing out on some crunch. When you add it back in, the tunnels dry out from the rapid evaporation, become “harder”, so to speak, and are more resilient to becoming moist from escaping steam. The more times it comes in and out of the oil, the more you “harden” the tunnels, creating a crunchier crust in the end!

Ingredients for Crunchy Japanese Chicken

The ingredients are super simple and you can get almost everything you need at your local grocery store!

3 tips for making the BEST Crunchy Japanese Chicken!

1. Keep that skin on!

Who DOESN’T love the skin on fried chicken? Some of you may want to remove it to save on a few extra calories, but to be honest, the skin adds so much flavor that I believe it should be left on! 

2. Give the chicken time to rest!

There are three major resting periods for the chicken:

  1. During the marinade process
  2. After battering and right before frying
  3. Just after the final fry

I recommend giving the chicken about 10 minutes for the first two, then 5 minutes for the last item above. This meal should be a labor of love, rather than something that is rushed through to get dinner on the table ASAP. If you want a recipe like that, try this one! But I recommend that you give yourself (and your chicken) plenty of time! 

3. Monitor your oil temperature!

As long as a recipe calls for frying, I will never stop saying this: GET A HIGH QUALITY COOKING THERMOMETER! I really believe frying should be treated like baking: the temperature is of utmost importance! If you’re frying blind without knowing how hot your oil is, you’re making your life harder! I highly recommend using a good kitchen thermometer like this one so you can easily monitor your frying temperature and get consistent, delicious results!

Take This Crunchy Japanese Chicken To The NEXT LEVEL!

My homemade green onion dipping sauce is the ultimate dipping sauce that will make this chicken even more irresistible! I highly recommend that you make some because it really is the perfect sauce for this chicken!

Make sure you check out some of my other fried goodness recipes! I know you’ll absolutely love them!

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Japanese Crunchy Chicken (Karaage)

My double-coated, triple-fried chicken! Served with Japanese mayonnaise and Japanese 7-spice powder makes this a delicious meal.
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 4
Calories 800 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • Skinless boneless chicken thigh 1 lb (about two large thighs)
  • All-purpose flour 2 heaping tbsp
  • 1 egg
  • Potato starch or corn starch for battering
  • Oil for frying

Marinade

  • Minced garlic 5 cloves
  • Minced ginger ½ inch piece
  • Soy sauce 3 tbsp
  • Cooking sake 2 tbsp

Garnish

  • Japanese shishito substitute with seeded jalapenos
  • Japanese Kewpie Mayo
  • Japanese 7 spice powder Shichimi

Instructions
 

  • Slice the chicken thigh into 7-8 large chunks (refer to the video for a visual aid) and add into a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the **MARINADE** ingredients to the chicken and mix well. Allow the meat to marinade for 10 minutes.
  • Pour out the excess marinade liquid into a separate bowl and set aside.
  • Beat 1 egg and add it to the meat and mix to combine.
  • Add the flour and mix well until no dry flour is visible.
  • Pour the potato starch into a shallow tray and pour in the reserved marinade liquid. Mix the liquid into the starch and press down on any large lumps to create small nuggets. These will add extra crunch to the batter.
  • Batter the chicken pieces in the potato starch one by one (refer to the video for a visual aid). Then lay them onto a sheet, making sure that they are not touching each other. Allow them to sit in the open for five minutes for the outside to dry out. This ensures a crunchier crust on the chicken.
  • Add enough oil for frying to a large pot and heat it to 180 celcius (about 350 F). I highly recommend the use of a kitchen thermometer, as it will ensure that your oil is at the perfect temperature.

Triple Fry Technique

  • Add the chicken to the oil, piece by piece. Be careful not to overcrowd the pot. Allow the pieces to sit in the oil, undisturbed for about 15 seconds. Then, gently move them around, making sure that they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Allow them to continue frying for another 45 seconds (1 minute in total), gently agitating them in the oil.
  • Remove the pieces from the oil onto a draining pan and allow them to rest for 30 seconds.
  • Add the partially cooked chicken back into the oil and fry them for 1 minute.
  • Remove the pieces from the oil again for another 30 seconds.
  • Add the partially cooked chicken back into the oil for one final minute. Remove from the oil and drain well. Continue cooking the rest of the chicken using this triple fry technique.
  • *Optional* Add the shishito peppers (or jalapenos) to the oil and fry until the skin begins to blister, about 30 seconds - 1 minute. Be careful of popping oil. Remove from oil and allow to drain.
  • Pile the chicken onto a plate. Garnish with peppers and slices of lemon. Add a dollop of mayonnaise and sprinkle Japanese 7-spice powder onto the mayonnaise. Serve immediately.

Video

Keyword chicken, fried food, japanese meal

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