Well guys, I did it. I finally caved to peer pressure and I got an air fryer. And wow am I having fun playing with it! We have this Japanese Fried Chicken on our restaurant menus, and it is hugely popular. I wanted to see if I could capture the juicy, crunchy deliciousness of it in an air fryer, and I was not disappointed! All the crispy, savory goodness with none of the hassles of deep frying, so let’s get into it.
Prepping Japanese Fried Chicken
There isn’t a culture that doesn’t make fried chicken, and I love them all, from Korean Fried Chicken to Nashville Hot. But Japanese Fried Chicken, known as karaage, holds a special place in my heart. It gets marinated with ginger, sake and oyster sauce, and that helps it stay extraordinarily juicy and flavorful. And instead of flour, I use potato starch. That makes for super crispy fried chicken, and it happens to be gluten free.
I start making this by cutting up the chicken into bite-sized chunks. I use thighs because they have a better, meatier flavor and it is we typically what use when making this dish. Also since we’re using an air fryer that is much drier that frying in oil, the extra moisture from thigh meat is very much appreciated.
When it’s thoroughly mixed I press plastic wrap down on the chicken and let it chill in the fridge for at least a half hour, or up to overnight. The extra time in the fridge really allows the flavors to penetrate giving you an even more delicious fried chicken.
Air Frying Japanese Fried Chicken
Although this recipe is made using an air fryer, you could easily adapt it to oven-frying or even traditional frying. And I put both techniques in the recipe notes. There’s no reason not to make this chicken!
The trick to air frying and oven-frying is to use a modest amount of oil to re-create a similar mouth feel and texture as fried food. However, it would be a mistake to think you don’t need to use any oil. Foods just don’t get crispy without oil, no matter how much air you pump at it. To help with that, I use a can of spray oil, which I consider a great resource for quickly and evenly getting oil across the surface.
I like to spray the fryer basket with oil. This allows the bottom of the chicken to sit on an oiled surface and develop the same texture as the top of the chicken, which will also be sprayed.
I put the chicken in two layers but I think if you can fit it in one layer, it would be easier to flip the chicken. And don’t be too aggressive when flipping/shaking the chicken as you want to preserve the coating and not have it flake off.
I cook the chicken at a moderate heat so it the coating doesn’t get too dark before the chicken is finished cooking. You’re looking for a nice golden crust and juicy chicken. When it’s done it will look like this:
Serve it with some Kewpie mayo, lemon wedges, and shichimi pepper for an outrageously delicious starter.
It’s wonderful served alongside:
Make Japanese Fried Chicken this weekend-I promise it’s worth lugging the air fryer out. Then take a moment to rate the recipe below, and tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken
- 2 Tablespoons peeled grated ginger (minced ginger is ok too)
- 3 Tablespoons sake
- 2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup potato starch
- Oil spray
- Lemon wedges, kewpie mayonnaise, and shichimi pepper for serving
- Cut the chicken into 1½ inch pieces. Place it in the bowl.
- Add the ginger, sake, oyster sauce, salt, and black pepper. Mix the chicken to thoroughly coat.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
- Spray the bottom of the air frying basket with oil.
- Dip the chicken pieces a couple at a time into the potato starch.
- Set the chicken into the air fryer basket/tray and spray with the oil. If you have to stack the chicken in two layers, spray each layer of chicken with oil.
- Air fry the chicken at 360 degrees for 20-25 minutes, flipping the chicken every 5 minutes so the chicken cooks evenly. (I also sprayed the chicken with oil again the first time I went to flip it.)
- Transfer the chicken to a plate.
- Serve the Japanese fried chicken with some lemon wedges, kewpie mayo, and shichimi pepper.
*If you have the ability to cook the chicken in one layer in the airfryer, I highly recommend it so you reduce the chance that the coating will peel off from flipping it around.
*You can also oven fry this chicken if you do not have an air fryer. Preheat the oven to 400. Put down a piece of parchment paper. (You can also use aluminum foil). Spray your parchment paper with oil. Lay your prepared chicken on the paper and spray again with oil. Bake the chicken for 20-25 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through. (I would spray the chicken again after you flip it). Serve immediately.
*If you would like to deep fry your chicken, pour 2 inches of oil into a deep heavy skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Test the oil by dipping a piece of chicken into the oil. It should bubble immediately. If not, let the oil continue to heat for a couple more minutes. Depending on the size of your skillet, put enough chicken into the pan so that it’s only half full of chicken. Do not crowd the pan otherwise your chicken will soak up a lot of oil and not cook properly. Cook for 6-8 minutes until crisp and golden. Transfer the fried chicken to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat with the remaining chicken. Serve immediately.
Keywords: air fryer, fried chicken, japanese, appetizers, small plates, gluten free