Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Karaage Chicken Recipe for Obento

Karaage is a favorite bento "main", and probably the most popular style of fried chicken in Japan.    The delicious karaage flavour is created by the marinade which includes garlic, ginger and soy sauce.

I certainly don't feel like deep-frying chicken in the morning, so I make a large batch of karaage one evening, serve some of it for dinner with a big leafy salad, and freeze the rest in small bags.  
Since we're mainly making this karaage for freezing and re-heating for super-fast bento, this is the recipe for soft karaage (not super crunchy) - I'll do that karaage in a later post.

Karaage Marinade Ingredients:
1 Tbsp crushed garlic
1/2 Tbsp finely grated ginger
3 Tbsp sake
2 Tbsp shoyu
1 Tbsp sesame oil (or vegetable oil)

900g~1200g chicken thigh fillets, skin on (2~2.5 lb)  (I used 1200g this time)

1 egg
1/4 cup cornflour
1/3 cup flour
generous sprinkle of pepper and a little salt
Oil for deep frying

  1. Slice chicken into randomly shaped pieces around 3x4x1.5cm  (2"x1"x0.5")
  2. Place in a large snaplock bag with all marinade ingredients, massage a little and refrigerate 30min
  3. Add egg, both flours and massage the bag to mix.  The marinade should turn into a thick batter.
  4. Heat oil for deep-frying.  Fry in batches, turning once.  When golden-brown, drain on a wire rack or absorbent paper.  Make sure you cook the chicken right through, but don't overcook - you want to keep them moist.
To Freeze:
Separate into small freezer bags and lay out on a baking tray to freeze.  (I freeze 3 per bag)
When frozen, place in a sealed plastic container to keep them fresh up to a month.
Re-heat in the microwave until hot before putting in your bento.

Use good hygiene and touch the karaage as little as possible at all stages after deep frying to help minimize bacteria and keep your bento safe.  (Use chopsticks, not fingers, to put your bento together!)

1.  Slice the chicken.
2.  Marinate the chicken with garlic, ginger, sake, soy sauce and sesame oil for 30 min.
3.  Add egg, cornstarch and flour.  4.  Deep fry until golden.


  1. Hi Jane! Thank you so much for your great recipes!
    This one looks incredibly yum!

    Do you think it would be possible to substitute sake in the marinade with something else?

    Thanks again

    x Sanchia

    1. Easy, just leave out the sake! When you get to the flour stage, you might need to add a few tablespoons of water♡ BTW, I found an excellent post about Sake and Mirin by Makiko Itoh: http://www.justhungry.com/the-role-alcohol-onion-and-ginger-japanese-meat-dishes

  2. This looks delicious! Love karaage. Will have to try your version! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I'm so excited! I love adding karaage to my bento, but hate cooking it in the morning (it's a fire hazard that early). At what point do you thaw it? Post-marinating but pre-cooking? And how do you thaw it?

    1. JoaniB, I'm right there with you! Deep-frying and early mornings don't mix lol!
      I freeze the karaage after cooking them. And microwave on high to thoroughly re-heat them. I've added a few more steps to make this clear now, thanks☆

  4. This website is awesome, thank you so much for sharing!

  5. Karaage was my son's favorite food when we lived in Japan but the closest Japanese restaurant for us here in Maryland, US, is in Washington DC, over an hour away. Now I can make him some any time I want!


  6. So you freeze the chicken already cooked?

  7. Yes! For convenience, I bag and freeze daily bento portions, so I can throw together my husband's bento in 5 minutes (instead of getting up an hour earlier every morning to cook!)

  8. Truly delicious! I cooked Karaage last night and the family thoroughly enjoyed it. I can’t wait to try the super crunchy version!

  9. Just made Karaage chicken now with your recipe and it is delicious!! The chicken is still very moist inside and there is a nice crunch to the coating. I had a munch on a few pieces as I was doing the batches and it was so yummy I kept eating, next time i will use double the amount of chicken so I still have enough for a dozen bento portions :) Thanks so much for the great recipe!!

  10. hihi.. the chicken karaage look so delicious... So keen to try the recipe :) May I know if I can skip the sake? or can I use the chinese rice wine instead? Thanks :)

  11. what happens if u don't have corn flour? i don't have any in my cupboards TT.TT

  12. Here are a number of Japanese people recipes which are simple to abdomen for the foreigner who has been in Asia a long time, or for the inexperienced who wants to example Japanese people meals without snorkeling directly into sushi.

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  15. My son is allergic to egg. Is there a substitute? Or can I skip it all together? Thanks for sharing. Love your site.

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