I pretty much avoid all fast food franchises but I have to confess that I have a soft spot for KFC and now and then when I past a KFC outlet I will go in and get myself some of that 11 herbs and spices. I generally get a little box of popcorn chicken as it’s a small serving so I can feel less guilty about the indulgence.
I think my soft spot for KFC chicken stems a little from nostalgia…I remember back in the day when KFC restaurants offered buffet facilities and a weekend treat for my family would be to go to the KFC buffet in Mirrabooka and eat as much fried chicken as we could. It’s funny because my dad is a chef and we would always have so much amazing food at home but eating KFC was cool for my family because it was Western and different - so it was a treat. Maybe this could be considered a part of our assimilation into Australia society. As a Western nation, fast food does form a big aspect of our culture.
So maybe on that citizen test (http://www.citizenship.gov.au/learn/cit_test/practice/) that you have to fill out for your Australian citizenship to prove your Australianness, the following question should be asked –
Do you eat KFC (or substitute more relevant fast food franchise here)?
d) Not applicable (for religious reasons and the like)
But seriously, who doesn’t like fried chicken (vegetarians exempted)?
Whenever I requested a chicken dish at a restaurant while traveling around Japan last year, they would always bring out karaage. Chicken karaage is a very common Japanese dish. The word ‘kara’ refers to China as the method of preparing the chicken (deep frying foods lightly coated in starch) was taken from Chinese cooking and ‘age’ means deep-fried. Sometimes the chicken karaage that I had was very simply seasoned and other times when I ordered chicken karaage it had stronger flavours with hits of garlic and ginger. I like chicken karaage which has more intense flavours.
After coming back from Japan I wanted to try making the best chicken karaage. I read a few recipes off the net and put together a marinade for the chicken (the key is to just test whatever seasonings you want to put into the chicken until you are happy with the taste, I desired a more gingery flavour). I also picked up a tip that in order to get a really crunchy coating the trick is to deep fry the chicken twice.
• ~ 400-500g chicken thigh
• 2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
• 2 cloves minced garlic
• 2 tablespoons soy sauce (kikkoman brand)
• 1 tablespoon sake
• ½ tablespoon mirin
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• cornstarch (using cornstarch provides a more durable crunch than flour, the cornstarch also provides a light and crispy coating)
• vegetable oil (for frying)
In a small bowl, mix the marinade ingredients together – ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sake, mirin and sugar (taste and adjust seasonings if desired).
Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and put into a bowl. Add the marinade and mix well.
Marinate the chicken in the fridge for a few hours (4-6 hours/or overnight).
Drain the marinade mixture from the chicken, take out the chicken from the bowl that it was marinated in and put into a clean bowl.
Put some cornstarch in a bowl/plate and sprinkle in some salt. Roll each piece of chicken around in the cornstarch until evenly coated and shake off the excess.
Deep fry the chicken in oil twice. Heat up a saucepan with vegetable oil, when the oil reaches 160C, drop the chicken pieces into the oil and fry them for a 2-3 minutes until they float. Take the chicken pieces out of the oil and transfer onto a plate lined with paper towels. Let the chicken pieces sit for a few minutes (this allows the juices in the meat to return to towards the outer part). Let the oil reach 180C and then fry the chicken pieces again until golden and crunchy, then transfer the chicken pieces onto a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
[Note: Don’t fry all the chicken at once because it will lower the temperature of the oil and overcrowding will cause chicken pieces to stick together. Fry the chicken in batches.]
Deep frying the chicken karaage twice ensures that the chicken pieces are crunchy and remain crunchy after a few hours!
Served with salad and Japanese mayonnaise
As you bite into the piece of karaage you will get a little hit of salt from the crunchy outside coating and then tender chicken with an imprint of soy/gingery flavours.
Not only is this chicken good when hot but you can refrigerate any leftovers and eat them cold the next day.
Another Japanese chicken dish I have made is Chicken Nanban.
You can read about my Japanese travel adventures and food endeavours here (under the Other tab)