Tori Kara-age, Japanese fried chicken, is one of the most popular “snack” foods in Japan. You are guaranteed to find it at any street festival, as an addition to most o-bento (lunch boxes), and in the “grab ’n go” prepared foods section of larger grocery stores. But it is the perfectly tender chicken on the inside and a crispy, not-too-oily exterior with just the right amount of sesame flavor—which I look forward to.
The chicken is best if left to marinate two hours to overnight, so plan accordingly. I’ve included it as an optional ingredient. I love all things ginger. If you’re especially fond of ginger, though, you might want to give it a try.
1 lb. boneless, skin-on chicken thighs, cut into 1-in pieces
1 c. potato starch
½ c. sesame seeds
Oil, for deep-frying
Lemon wedges, for garnish
3 tbsp. soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, grated
1½ tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. saké
1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp. ginger juice
To make the Marinade, shake together the ingredients in a large, resealable plastic bag until the sugar has dissolved. Add the chicken and toss until evenly coated.
Let marinate in the refrigerator (tossing occasionally) 2 hours to overnight. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the liquid.
Combine the potato starch and sesame seeds in a large shallow bowl or resealable plastic bag. Lightly coat the chicken in the potato starch mixture and let rest on a wire rack until dry, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a deep-fryer, stockpot or large wok, heat 2 inches of oil to 360.
Fry the chicken, a few pieces at a time, until they float to the top and turn deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or chopsticks, carefully remove the chicken and let drain on a clean wire rack. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.
The chicken is ready to eat now. Or, if you wish to create an extra-crispy (and delicious!) coating, increase the oil temperature to 375 and fry the chicken pieces a second time. Return the fried chicken pieces to the hotter oil and fry, in batches, an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or chopsticks, carefully remove the chicken and let drain on a clean wire rack. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.
Garnish with lemon wedges, encouraging guests to squeeze some of the juice over the chicken before eating, if desired.
Cooking Tips: Any cut of chicken will work for this recipe, but for the best flavor, use boneless chicken thighs with the skin still on.