Chicken Karaage

After Shira-ae dressing and Potato Teriyaki Pork Rolls, Chicken Karaage is another fantastic recipe I found on Nami’s blog (Just One Cookbook). In fact, I wouldn’t have noticed it in Nami’s older posts if it wasn’t for the Cooking Gallery blog, where I kept on admiring Chicken Karaage, always neatly arranged in bentos and prepared according to Nami’s recipe. Thank you Nami for one more wonderful recipe and thank you CG for making me crave it!

Like the previous Nami’s recipes I have tried, this one was both easy and perfectly well explained. Needless to say, Chicken Karaage is now among the most frequent Japanese dishes I prepare. “Kara” means “empty” and “age” means “fried”, so the cooking method could probably be translated as “plain fried”, since the chicken is barely coated before being deep fried. This explanation has however some detractors, who maintain that “kara” here means Chinese and that the method has Chinese origins… Whatever the meaning, this popular chicken dish is crunchy, juicy, quick and somehow I feel that this particular coating absorbs less oil than other Japanese deep-fried, or agemono dishes.

I served it here with a dollop of bainiku (ume plum paste) mixed with mirin, but  Chicken Karaage will be perfect with any hot sauce (I don’t want to boast, but my Hot Strawberry Sauce is the winner with deep-fried chicken). It can be served as a main dish or as a party snack, presented on a tray with toothpicks.

Nami prepares it with deboned thighs, but I made it with chicken breasts, the part I prefer.

Preparation: 1 hour

Ingredients (serves 2):


2 skinless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons sake

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

about 50 g corn or potato starch (I used corn starch)

oil for deep-frying

Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.

Combine the marinade ingredients, add the meat and marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Heat the oil (when a pinch of starch thrown into the pan doesn’t fall to the bottom and stays, frying, on the surface, the temperature is usually good for frying).

Prepare a bowl with the corn starch.

Dip the chicken pieces in the starch, shake off the excess coating and deep-fry them for several minutes.

(To obtain a higher degree of crunchiness, deep-fry the chicken twice, but it’s not necessary).

Drain on paper towels and serve.

28 Replies to “Chicken Karaage”

  1. I was about to sleep but checked my email before putting my cellphone down and saw this post! So happy to see your version of karaage and I’m happy you like it. But stay tuned for my next post. Even better than this one!!! This one was supposed to be coated with sweet chili sauce so the marinate is simpler version. My regular karaage is even tastier (am I too confident?! sorry)!! I like how you put bainiku or hot strawberry sauce! I’ll share your post on my Facebook page tomorrow morning! I’m so happy I hope I can sleep!

    1. Nami, thank you so much for these kind words! I am so happy you managed to stop by in spite of your family visit. I hope I haven’t stopped you from having a good night sleep! Please please put another Chicken Karaage recipe! I can’t imagine how it tastes if it’s even better! (You can be very confident: everything I have tried from your blog was perfect and luscious!) By the way, I have already prepared my post last night when I saw your tonkatsu. Both are my favourite deep-fried meat dishes!

  2. I’m with you on the using breast instead of de-boned thighs. Thighs are icky. Too many bad memories from eating badly made ones in school lunches! The best thing is to shred the meat from the thighs and fry it.

    I bet it was amazing with the sour plum paste and it looks perfectly golden and crispy. I haven’t eaten chicken in weeks – last time was when I had my chicken kiev which, while delicious, was a bit of a chicken overload for some reason 😀

    1. Thanks, Charles. In general I am not very fond of chicken thighs (although many people say they have more taste and are juicier… I prefer the “tasteless” and “dry” breasts; I also love the wings). I am addicted to chicken and have it at least once a week. It is light, versatile, yummy… It was perfect with sour plum paste, but only for sour sauces fans 🙂 I have heard chicken thighs are much more expensive in Japan than chicken breasts. They seem to be more appreciated.

      1. Haha, yeah – my Korean friend says the same thing. After living in France for a few months she was like “OMG, all the “good” meat is so cheap here, and you guys pay so much money for the stuff which is considered so bad in Korea?!?!?!”. Stuff like lean pork, tender chicken breast etc is just considered by most westerners as “top” quality stuff, but of course in a lot of asian cookery, the fat and darker meat will impart a much nicer flavour to the dish. So strange to think that in “their” opinion, we’re all eating the slop they probably give to their cat 😀

        1. I must admit that I understand those who go crazy for fat pork… It’s just that we in Western countries sometimes don’t know how to cook fat meat…

  3. Simple and delicious. I haven’t eaten fried chicken in many years. Its not common in Sweden and there is no KFC here either. I should attempt this sometime soon.

    1. Thank you, Mr. Three-Cookies! It is delicious indeed and I’m sure much healthier than KFC, although I must confess KFC is the only fast-food chain I sometimes dream of when I have my junk food cravings. Luckily it doesn’t exist in Switzerland either… (Do you know Southpark? There is an excellent scene with my favourite character, Cartman and KFC:
      I love Cartman!

  4. what a fun take on fried chicken!! and the sake is a really good idea, would never have thought of putting it in marinade – any favorite (and not too pricey) brands?

    1. Hi Epicurea, thank you. I use something which is called often “cooking sake”, the cheapest brand sold in Japanese shops.

    1. Hi Jeno, thanks! Although they are not exactly the same… (apparently they come from Martha Stewart book). From what I have seen my toast baskets are much much easier to make 🙂

  5. Thanks for your karaage post! I’ve been amused to read the discussion about chicken breasts vs. thighs. I knew that the latter is cheaper in the United States, and now I know that the situation is probably the same in Europe. In Japan, thighs are almost twice as expensive as breasts. You have given me a good execuse for using chicken breasts!

    1. Thank you, Hiroyuki! And I must try one day making the Karaage with chicken thighs! My husband will be very happy (he prefers thighs) and I will pay cheaper 😉

    1. Thank you so much Jenny! I am sure children would love it and, as I said, it certainly is healthier than KFC…

  6. Looks awesome, but quite different than the fried chicken I see on menus down here. I like the idea of a light fry too!

    1. Thanks Greg! I do hope it really is lighter… The starch creates a very tight, dense, but thin layer, which seems to absorb less oil.

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