Walking around busy streets in summer, it is easy to see big crowd gathering in beer gardens. They usually drink beer with a dish of green soybeans and crispy fried chicken. Green soybeans are typical snack for summer, while fried chicken, which is called karaage in Japanese is year-round food.
Not only in restaurant, karaage is also a popular side dish in convenient stores and supermarkets. In underground departments, we can easily encounter many Karaage vendors crammed with people all the time. Even small karaage restaurants that are tucked away in secluded corners have a long queue of customers waiting for vacant seats. People are liable to order Karaage dish when they drink at Izakaya (Japanese styled bar). Karaage has become an indispensable dish in Japanese eating habit. What makes Karaage become popular like that?
It is said that Japanese people consume 22 billion Karaage every year! According to Yasuhisa Teppei, who is a Japanese food critic: “In 1974, Nisshin Seifun Group started to sell Karaage powder. The powder contains all the seasonings and spices. We just need to dip chicken in those powder and delicious Karaage could be made at home. That’s why Karaage rapidly became popular”. Working women who are busy and do not have much time for cooking can buy a pack of Karaage sold in supermarkets and make it within 10 minutes. Karaage dish has become so convenient and popular, especially to children who enjoy chewing the crispy coating of juicy fried chicken.
Oita Prefecture is considered to be the place having the tastiest karaage in Japan. People living in Kenhoku area of Oita never cook Karaage at home, simply because that of restaurant is much more delicious. This is the culture of Kenhoku area. Even karaage can be done within a short time, Kenhoku residents always buy karaage from vendors or restaurants.
Karaage is food of peace
It is surprising that there are various kinds of karaage: from normal shouyu taste, mixed spicy karaage to fruity karaage with sweet vinegar sauce. The taste is wide-ranging. There are 2 main recipes for karaage: “どぶ漬け dobuduke” and “粉打ち konauchi”.
- どぶ漬け：meat is pickled in sauce (タレ), then coated with flour and deep-fried.
- 粉打ち: meat is dipped into a small amount of concentrated sauce, then a thick layer of flour and fried.
The frying method, the components of flour are different for 2 recipes. According to Japan Karaage association, ザンギ of Hokkaido, 鶏半身 of Niigata, 手羽先 of Nagoya, チキン南蛮 of Mizayaki, 竜田揚げ(dish of fish or meat flavored with soy sauce, coated with starch and deep-fried), fried chicken with no garment are all classified as Karaage.
One important thing to remember while eating karaage is that do not dip it into too much lemon juice otherwise it will become sodden and the taste will completely change. It is suggested that you dip karaage into lemon juice after the second bite. And karaage should be eaten right after it was cooked while the coating is still crispy and crunchy.
In izakaya, people usually feel reluctant to take the last karaage piece and leave it on the dish. However, the right manner is that you should eat the last piece immediately once you notice it. This manner amazes me a lot because we are likely to leave the last piece on the dish or give it to people in Vietnam. If you eat the last piece, people will judge you as a glutton. However, this manner does not come into play in Japan.
How to make delicious karaage:
This is how to make karaage movie.
In order to make tasty karaage, we should pay attention to the following things:
- Sauce flavoring
- Flour coating
- The temperature of the oil
In the case of making karaage at home, if you do not raise the oil temperature to above 180 degree celcius, the coating would not become crispy. Typical frying time is 3 minutes but if the coating is too thick, you have to fry it for 1 minute then take it out of the oil for a while then put it back into the pan for one minute. By doing so, you can prevent the flour from absorbing too much oil and your stomach will not feel uncomfortable later. Once, your chicken is done cooking, instead of laying it down on a plate lined with paper towel, pat it with a paper towel and then lay it on a wire rack such as a cookie rack. This way, the oil will drip off and it will remain crispy for longer time. In my opinion, Karaage would be more yummy with tomato and chili sauce or you can just dip it in any type of sauce you like.
Next time when you cook karaage following these tips, share with us your dish!