Kara-age Chicken : The Japanese Fried Chicken

I remember when Neil and I went to Guu Garlic at Robson Street in Downtown Vancouver, it was my second time in the restaurant and it’s Neil’s first time. I went to the original location on Thurlow just off Robson with my friends before and I was impressed with the food, though not everyone in the group agreed with me, I still enjoyed the experience. Guu is an authentic Japanese Izakaya with a set of traditional social customs. The servers are all Japanese if i’m not mistaken and they greet or welcome the customers, thank them and wish them well as they leave. Well I must admit, the greetings can sometimes get a little too loud but it’s tolerable and I kinda like it. It sure beats going to most western restaurants in Vancouver and getting totally ignored the entire time. I like the setting where customers can sit on the bar and have an ice-cold Dry Asahi or Sapporo (Japanese Beer). They have low tables and cushions on the floor. Customers who prefer a nice and quieter atmosphere can choose the upper level where the low tables are situated. One of the Japanese table manners is removing shoes before dining and using the chopsticks properly as it is essential for Japanese dining etiquette. Neil and I are not quite sure if the customers practice all the dining etiquette but we are there to enjoy the food and the company of each other.

We ordered a variety of food in their menu (which is so hard to understand) and we enjoyed every bits of it. One of our favorite was the Chicken Kara-age.

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Unlike other types of fried chicken, the Kara-age never left me with the greasy feeling at all and slightly gross afterwards. It was served with a cut of lemon and you have to squeeze liberally before eating. That could be one factor that made it so special. The mayo dip was divine too, it was not like any other local mayonnaise, on the other thought, it could be the chicken which made everything special on the plate.

The Guu Garlic experience inspired me to make a simple version that a beginner like me can make.

Kara-age Chicken

Ingredients (Serves 4)

6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, about 3 1/2 oz/100g each

4 tbsp shoyu (Japanese soy sauce)

4 tbsp mirin

2 tbsp finely grated fresh gingerroot

2 garlic cloves, crushed

oil, for deep frying

2 1/2 oz or 70 g or 1/2 cup potato starch or cornstarch

pinch of salt

lemon wedges, to serve

Method

1 Cut the chicken into large cubes and put in a bowl. Add soy sauce, mirin, gingerroot, and garlic and turn chicken to coal well. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in a cool place for 20 minutes.

2 Preheat a wok, then fill one-third full with oil, or use a deep fryer. Heat the oil to 350-375°F or 180-190°C, or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds.

3 Meanwhile, mix the potato starch with the salt in a bowl. Lift the chicken out of the marinade and shake off any excess. Drop it into the potato starch and coat well, then shake off any excess.

4 Add the chicken to the oil, in batches, and cook for 6 minutes, or until crisp and brown. remove, drain on paper towels, and keep hot while you cook the remaining chicken.

5 Serve with lemon wedges.

Some people like to add a sprinkling of grated yuzu peel and/or sansho pepper.

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