Fried chicken is so loved all over the world, in Asia itself, we have famous Korean, Taiwanese, Japanese versions and in the West you have buttermilk fried chicken, southern fried chicken, KFC you name it. Every one loves a great fried chicken meal, it’s an unforgettable flavour implosion of crispy, juicy, savoury hits.
Of the many variations of fried chicken and one of the simplest to prepare is the Japanese Karaage version, its literal translation means “tang fried” (as in Tang dynasty), Karaage is any fried food item dredged in either potato starch or other flours and fried. Its origins were adapted from Chinese culinary cuisine, but over time became something uniquely Japanese.
Bottom right up: raw sugar, soya sauce, ground ginger, garlic, sake and olive oil. Left: Cut chicken pieces.
Marinade poured onto chicken, refridgerate for 4 hours before cooking.
For a finger licking good Chicken Karaage, the marination time is key to success (four hours or more or even overnight) before cooking time will ensure the flavour has gone into the meat. And most marinades for Chicken Karaage call for a mix of garlic, ginger, sake, soya sauce and a little sugar. But what makes a great Karaage is the final coating of potato starch. Unlike corn or plain flours, potato starch creates an extra lasting crispness over the morsels of chicken. This makes Chicken Karaage a great take away option for adults and even children.
Potato starch – a white and fine powder starch, with a texture similar to corn starch. Potato starch is gluten free and lends a light fluffy texture to baked, fried goods. It’s also an effective thickener that only needs cold water to gelatinize, compared to other wheat thickeners like flour which needs added fats. Potato flour is different from potato starch be careful in distinguishing both at your point of purchase.
However, most people wouldn’t think of eating Karaage often, the main issue is the high calories and fats that come with it from the deep frying in vats of hot oil. And from a nutritional stand point, deep frying foods totally changes its nutrient profile, for e.g. a large potato contains 220 calories and 1 g of fats. Turn it into deep fried fries and you will eat almost 700 calories and 34 g of fats instead.
Deep fried foods served up at restaurants/fast food joints present another problem, to save costs, oils that are partially hydrogenated (these oils contain some amounts of trans fats) will end up in the meal the end consumer buys. Trans fats are unhealthy fats that can cause heart disease in the long run.
What if I told you that, now with an air fryer you can eat fried food (guilt free!) without worrying about high calories or trans fats would you be intrigued?
Floured chicken pieces in potato starch in oiled air fryer tray.
Air fryer – a device that uses superheated hot air to cook the kind of meals that would traditionally be fried in hot oil. By circulating air heated up to 200C foods like chips, chicken, fish and pastries can be browned nicely with up to 80 per cent less fat. This achieves what scientists have called the Maillard effect, a browning and crisping process seen when food is fried, roasted, toasted or baked.
Chicken turned at mid way point, six minutes into cooking!
If you want to try out this recipe, you got to get your own air fryer! I’ve had mine for three plus years (it’s still working well) and I reckon the prices for air fryers have dropped over the last few years. And whilst I can’t guarantee you will like every fried recipe that emerges from your new air fryer, I can assure you that even the pickiest of eaters (my children are no exceptions) will like this Chicken Karaage recipe! Best of all, it’s heart healthy!
If you try out this Chicken Karaage dish don’t forgot to show it to me on instagram at #taystesg. Happy eating!
Heart Healthy Air Fried Chicken Karaage
2 big serves/ 4 small serves
450g chicken thigh with skin, cut into 2 cm pieces
4 tablespoons naturally fermented organic soya sauce (or 3 tbps of tamari – wheat free)
2 tablespoons sake
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 cloves minced garlic
3 teaspoons raw sugar
4 teaspoons of olive oil
1 cup potato starch
1. Leave the chicken in the marinade for about 4 hours before cooking. Refridgerate while marinating. Alternatively, you can marinate the chicken overnight in the refrigerator.
2. Coat the chicken pieces well with potato starch right before placing it in the air fryer.
3. Preheat air fryer (mine is a Philips air fryer) at 160C for 5 minutes and then increase heat to 200C.
4. Place chicken pieces in the air fryer and cook for 12 minutes in total at 200C. Turn the chicken at the midway point (6 minutes) to ensure even browning.
5. Remove chicken pieces from air fryer, plate and serve with lime wedges .
If choosing to use breast meat instead of chicken thighs, please reduce the cooking time by 2 minutes to 10 minutes in total for the air fried version.
For even cooking, cut chicken pieces as uniformly as possible and don’t over cram the tray in the air fryer.
For an oven baked version, bake at 190C for 20 to 25 minutes till fully cooked.