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Japanese Home Recipes Vol.3 – Karaage and Potato Salad

In this issue, I will share with you my Japanese home cooking recipes for chicken karaage and Japanese style potato salad. Chicken karaage is no doubt one of everyone’s favourite Japanese dishes. It is a popular Izakaya item and great street food. It is quite simple to make once you learn a few tricks like the marinade, batter and temperature of your cooking oil. There are literally thousands of home recipes on Internet these days, but I will show you the one I developed through years of experiment using Australian ingredients and kitchen tools.

Another popular Japanese dish I show you today is Japanese style potato salad as it is a typical accompaniment for chicken karaage. Usually the potatoes are more mashed than in other styles of potato salad and it has a lot of Japanese mayonnaise. Both dishes are great for hot summer night with cold (Japanese) beer!

Recipe for Chicken Karaage

You can use any part of chichen for this recipe although I think chicken thigh fillets preferably and with the skin on is the best. Obviously you need to adjust your cooking time depending on the cuts of chicken you use.

Years ago I learnt this marinade from my friend who was a Japanese chef. The acid of tomatoes tenderizes the meat and gives great flavour.

Japanese often use a mix of flour and potato starch (katakuriko) for karaage batter, but I cannot find potato starch easily in Australia, so I use corn starch (corn flour) instead. Mixing flour with corn flour makes the chicken crispier, and gives a touch of difference to western style “fried chicken”.

The most important element for this recipe is temperature of oil. The best result can be achieved by frying the chicken twice, first at a lower temperature and at a higher temperature second. However, if you cannot be bothered with it (which I can understand!), at least you should start cooking chicken at a lower temperature around 160-170°C and gradually raise the temperature to 190°C. This way, you can make sure the chicken is cooked through and crisp outside.

I have a kitchen thermometer, but I use a Japanese traditional method of gauging oil temperature using a pair of Japanese cooking chopsticks (long wooden ones). Submerge the dry tip of chopsticks in oil, and if you see tiny bubbles from the tip, it is about 160°C. This is usually achieved in 2-3 minutes after you start heating the oil. When larger bubbles come up vigorously it is about 190°C.

Ingredients for chicken karaage

  • 2 chicken thigh fillets (preferably skin on)
  • 1 clove of garlic grated or finely chopped
  • 1 ripe tomato roughly chopped
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs Japanese cooking sake (optional)
  • 2 tbs plain flour
  • 2 tbs corn flour
  • oil for deep frying (canola or vegetable oil is fine)

Cooking method

  1. Cut chicken fillets into bite size.
  2. Mix chopped garlic, tomatoes, soy sauce and sake in a small bowl or a plastic bag and marinade the chicken for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove chunks of tomato, and add flour and corn flower to the plastic bag (or the bowl) and mix well.
  4. Heat oil in heavy frying pan and add chicken when the temperature reached 160°C.
  5. Cook for 3-4 minutes and take the chicken pieces out. Rest the chicken for a few minutes.
  6. Increase the heat to raise the temperature of oil to 180-190°C.
  7. Return the chicken to the pan and cook further 1-2 minutes.
  8. Serve with a wedge of lemon if you like.

Recipe for Japanese style Potato Sald

Japanese style potato salad is also very popular, and has endless variety in its recipes. The one I share with you here, is one of the most authentic and basic.

The key is cooking duration of the potatoes. Some people cook the potatoes very soft and mash them completely, but I like to leave some shapes and texture. So, I used a knife to mash potatoes rather than a masher. If you cook the potatoes whole (with skin on), it holds flavour and juiciness, but if you don’t have time, you can peel and dice the potatoes before cooking.

As an option for preparing your cucumber, instead of just slicing and adding it to the potatoes, if you slice the cucumber, sprinkle salt on it, leave it for a few minutes, then you can squeeze the excess water from the cucumber. This will add saltiness to the salad but the cucumber will be soft. So if you like your cucumber crunchy, just slicing is better.

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Fresh cucumber and salted cucumber

One of the most important elements to me is the colour balance. It has to have white of potatoes, green of cucumber plus the red of tomatoes and carrot. Yellow from boiled egg is also nice too. So long as you have those colours in balance, you can substitute the ingredients. For example, my husband does not like cucumber, so we use frozen peas instead. You can add diced ham to make it more substantial.

To serve, you can mix everything together, or just mix potato, cucumber and carrots and arrange tomato and egg on top to highlight the colours like I did.

Ingredients for Japanese style potato salad

  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber
  • 1 egg hard boiled
  • 4 tbs Japanese mayonnaise
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Cooking method

  1. Cook potatoes as whole with skin on in a large pot from cold water until you can insert a skewer easily.
  2. Slice cucumber to 2-3 mm thickness.
  3. Cut carrot to small dice and cook in a microwave for a few minutes.
  4. Dice tomatoes and boiled egg.
  5. Drain the potatoes and put in a large bowl. Cool, peel and mash roughly.
  6. Add carrot and cucumber and mix.
  7. Add mayonnaise and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper if you need.
  8. Serve on a plate and arrange tomato and boiled egg on top.
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I hope you enjoy the Japanese home cooking recipes for chicken karaage and Japanese style potato salad.

Have you read my Japanese home cooking recipe blogs for fish and dashi master sauce? I would love to hear what you made.

Journey to the East offers a range of excellent Food Tours of Japan and each of them include a cooking class by professionals. Please check them out!