Karaage [から揚げ] is a Japanese technique that consists of frying some types of food, most often chicken, but it is also common to find other fish and meats.
Why is Karaage so hot?
What differentiates a karaage from a regular fried and breaded chicken? What do the Japanese do to make this chicken and other meats so delicious?
Usually its seasoning is based on soy sauce, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sake and coated in a layer of seasoned wheat flour or cornstarch and fried in a light oil.
Karaage is completely crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and its flavor is amplified and improved with the use of seasonings and sauces. The meat is also marinated for more than half an hour, making the flavor even more special.
Karaage is usually served alone or with rice and shredded cabbage.
What is the origin of karaage?
Some claim that Karaage became popular in the 1920s through a restaurant called Toyoken in beppu, a popular tourist town for its onsens.
It became popular mainly because of the food shortages in the period of the second world war. The chicken, being cheaper, ended up being the target of the daily recipes of the time, thus evolving the flavor and technique.
Karaage has a Chinese origin, like many other dishes of Japanese cuisine, such as Gyoza and Ramen, falling into the category of Wafu-Chaka (Chinese dishes adapted to the Japanese taste).
Karaage, also called Tatsutaage, literally means "fried Tang" (referring to the Chinese Tang dynasty). Today you can find it in stores like Lawson, Family Mart, Seven Eleven and in stalls all over Japan.
Different types of karaage
Karaage is a free dish, you can make it with anything and even change the flavor of the crispy dough or the sauce in which the meat is marinated with ingredients of your choice.
There are some regional karaage patterns in Japan which we will mention below. It might be interesting to try each region of Japan and enjoy its unique flavor.
Zangi- This Karaage is found in the Hokkaido region and is usually served with a spicy sauce.
Tebasaki- From the Nagoya region, it's made with chicken wings sprinkled with sesame seeds and a special sauce.
Dakgangjeong – Similar style to Korean fried chicken. usually made with milk and a kind of sweet spicy sauce.
Toriten- From the Oita region coated in wheat flour and generally used as a udon topping.
Nanban - From Miyazaki Prefecture soaked in sweet vinegar and topped with tartar sauce.
Gurukun no kara-age – Gurukun is an Okinawan fish, often called "banana fish", usually served with lime.
Konbini's famous Karaage
While in Brazil we find several bakeries and snack bars with fried snacks, in Japan it is more common to find convenience stores Konbini calls the famous karaage plus breaded sausages and nikuman.
Konbini karaage usually comes on a skewer or in a container like fast food fries. It usually costs around 100 to 300 yen, where it can have different variations and flavors.
Some prefer restaurant or homemade karaage, but I personally liked konbini karaage a lot and ate almost every day with the nikuman.
What is the difference between Karaage and Tempura?
In Japanese, foods that are fried in a batter are called anemono [揚げ物]. The Japanese usually fry several covered with a crispy dough. Eggplants, potatoes, asparagus, squash, mushrooms, fish, shrimp, squid and meats.
Tempura it is usually made to be dipped in the sauce, while karaage is usually seasoned from its marinade. And experience between the two dishes is totally different.
Generally, the dough used in tempura is very thin and tends to fry faster than karaage. There is also Kakiage which consists of vegetables mixed in tempura batter and fried together.
Karaage is one of the recipes that most adapts to the Brazilian palate, even the most difficult to convince accept this idea. Something that makes this dish even more admirable is the easy preparation and low cost.
You can make your Karaage yourself using the recipe below:
- 2 chicken thighs (also try other types of meat and fish)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 spoon of potato starch
- 1/2 spoon of wheat flour
- Frying oil
- 2 spoons of sake (Japanese rice wine)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (soy sauce)
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 grated garlic clove
- 2 spoons of grated ginger
- 1. Cut the meat and season it;
- 2. Mix the ingredients well by hand;
- 3. Take it to the fridge for twenty minutes;
- 4. Mix egg with chicken and add the flour;
- 5. The pieces must be covered with consistent dough;
- 7. Fry in hot oil and be careful not to stick;
- 8. Remove when golden;
- 10. Serve with lemon;
There are other techniques to do a karaage. You can try to do a karaage by following the recipe in the video below: