Karaage is a totally addictive fried chicken that’s served in izakayas all over Japan. Boneless chicken thighs are marinated in ginger, garlic and soy and then get a dip in cornflour before being fried. It’s the perfect counterpart to pillowy bao buns – and the pickles and hot sauce are the icing on the cake, as it were.
Halve the chicken thighs and place in a bowl with the garlic, soy and ginger and mix well. Cover, refrigerate and ideally leave overnight or for at least 2 hours.
Remove the chicken from the fridge 1 hour before cooking to bring up to room temperature.
Whisk all the chilli sauce ingredients together in a bowl and set aside for serving.
In a shallow dish, mix the cornflour with the spice mix and some sea salt.
Heat the oil in a wok or deep medium saucepan until it reaches 180–190°C (350–375°F) or when a small piece of bread instantly sizzles. Arrange a wire rack over a baking tray ready for draining the fried chicken.
When the oil is ready, dredge the chicken pieces in the flour, shaking off any excess, and drop five or six pieces into the oil. Fry until golden, adjusting the heat so the oil isn’t too hot. You want the chicken to fry slowly enough to cook the inside flesh without the crust getting brown too quickly. Drain on the wire rack to keep the outside crisp.
Serve the fried chicken inside the buns with the pickles, red onion, chilli and coriander, with the lemon wedges and chilli sauce to pass around.
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