One of my biggest naughty food weaknesses has got to be fried chicken. Crispy and well-seasoned, juicy on the inside, succulent and tender. Preferably boneless. Everytime I visit Ryo’s Noodles in Crows Nest for my ramen fix, I make sure to get the amazing chicken karaage as well. I can never resist digging in immediately – with a generous smear of creamy Japanese mayonnaise – so fresh out of the deep fryer that it’s burning my tongue and lips but I’m absolutely loving it at the same time.
But driving all the way to Crows Nest can be a bit of a pain, and so it was with this in mind, on a quiet weekend afternoon a little while ago, I decided to try and make my own version of their chicken karaage. It turned out so well that I have since made it multiple times. How does it compare to Ryo’s? Well…you get a lot, lot more 😉
I like to use chicken thigh here as it withstands the heat of the shallow frying a lot better than chicken breast, which would easily become stringy and dry.
You will need:
- Two free-range chicken thighs, fat-trimmed;
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce;
- 1 tablespoon sake;
- One small knob ginger, peeled, about 3cm;
- One clove garlic, peeled;
- Ground white pepper;
- 1 cup vegetable oil;
- 1/2 cup plain flour;
- 1 egg, beaten;
- 3/4 cup Japanese panko breadcrumbs;
- Thinly sliced spring onion, soaked in iced water to let them curl, for garnish;
- Japanese mayonnaise (Kewpie) to serve.
Cut each piece of chicken thigh into roughly 4cmx4cm cubes, or about six square-ish pieces per thigh. In a bowl, combine the chicken, soy sauce, sake, and finely grate over the ginger and garlic. Season with ground white pepper, cover with cling film and leave to marinate for about 15-20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celcius. Into a non-stick high-edged frying pan, pour in the cup of vegetable oil and bring to temperature over a medium-high heat. While it’s warming, prepare your benchtop beside the stove. The plain flour and panko should be in shallow dishes, the egg wash in a shallow-ish bowl.
Test the temperature of the oil by dropping in a panko crumb. If it fizzles immediately, it’s ready. Pick up a piece of chicken, dust it lightly in the dish of plain flour, then coat in egg wash, roll in panko, and then drop it into the oil. Repeat with half of the chicken mixture. Do not overcrowd the pan; you will need to do two batches or more depending on the size of your frying pan.
When the bottom layer has browned to a glorious golden, turn it over to brown the other side. When evenly-coloured, remove with a slotted spoon onto a tray. Place this tray into the oven so that the chicken doesn’t get cold while you fry off the remaining chicken. Because no one likes cold fried chicken.
When all done, pile onto a plate, garnish the top with the curly spring onion and squeeze a generous dollop of Japanese mayonnaise on the side for dipping.
Something that is best enjoyed only once in a while (I do this about once a month), but it’s oh-so-good when done 😉