Friday, August 13, 2010

Karaage - Japanese Fried Chicken


This weekend I am off on a small journey. Hussyband and I are catching the train and ferry to the Isle of Wight for a weekend of frivolity, Garlic Festival, drinking and silliness. Now, every good journey needs a good meal, and let’s face it people, train food in the UK is just god-awful. So, with this in mind, I bought myself a tiffin. 4 pretty boxes held together with a clasp, in shades of green and blue (I wanted pink, but Hussyband does not share my love of all things pink and would refuse to carry it - and possibly eat from it.)

So, I have 4 trays to fill - the top one is easy, olives and semi-dried tomatoes, the second one with sliced meats, the third with some cold quiche (to soak up the icy beers that will be in a strategically placed bag) and karaage.

I first tried karaage when I was in a small smoke filled izakaya in Osaka almost a year ago. Now, when you are holidays, you usually get up to things you would not dream of in the RealWorld. I normally wouldnt wear a silly mask and do karaoke...ok I would do karaoke, but not in a silly mask. Normally I would try to avoid anything deep fried, but when in Rome (or Osaka) one does what one must. It was crunchy and tangy and....oh my. It was just so damned good, especially with a 1 litre glass of cold Asahi, a flask (or 3) of sake and my beloved sitting opposite me sharing food.

On returning to Sydney, we immediately started to plan our move to London, and an embargo was placed on me buying anymore recipe books. But one more might have slipped in. It had to. It covered so many delicious things that I had eaten, so many foodie memories. Izakaya - The Japanese Pub Cookbook by Mark Robinson, was a way to remember some awesome nights drinking and singing and yelling PAIZURI! at the top of our lungs to the eternal amusement of the salarymen who we inevitably ended up drinking and laughing and swapping slang and special words with.

The book is more a guide to some amazing restaurants and chefs, and is interspersed with over 60 recipes that will make foodies hearts go a-flutter.

My take on karaage has been refined over a couple of attempts and versions - skin off, skin on, sake, no-sake...but now for your feasting pleasure I bring you the perfect picnic food.

Karaage
500g skin-on boneless chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite sized pieces
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of sake
3 cloves of crushed garlic (please, whatever you do, do not use jarred garlic - it is wrong wrong wrong)
an inch or so of ginger grated
Vegetable oil, for frying
Cornflour

Mix everything together in a big glass bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and shove it in the fridge for an hour or so to marinate. While it marinates, have a glass or two of chilled sake, as it is wrong to only waste sake on food, in fact in some prefectures it is probably a crime which would see a samurai ct off my head, so drink 3 to be safe.

Using a heavy based saucepan or frypan (or deep fryer), bring oil to the boil.

Remove the chicken from the fridge, and removing as much excess marinade from the chicken, drench a piece at a time in the cornflour and immediately place it in the oil, and cook until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper.

Now here is the tricky bit. Serve it hot with lemon wedges, or if you are patient enough to wait, cold with lemon wedges. A couple of bottles of Asahi and some sake will round it out pretty bloody good as well.

3 comments:

Kanga_Rue said...

Love it, sounds absolutely gorgeous. And now I think I must go shopping for a tiffin and an excuse to use it!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I adore karaage too! It's so worth breaking a deep fried ban for. I even try and convince myself that it's not deep fried as it doesn't have a thick batter :P

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

That sounds fantastic food for a train journey! I love those tiffin stacks too, I have always wanted one!

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