This vegan karaage recipe is perfect for party nibbles, paired with an ice cold beer, and/or to complement the binge sessions of Pretty Little Liars you laugh yourself to sleep by even though you don’t admit that to anyone.
And neither am I. It’s just an example. Anyway, season 7 doesn’t even start until the summer.
Karaage is a popular snack across Japan, found everywhere from convenience and grocery stores to bar and restaurant menus. Chicken is marinated in a soy based sauce, tossed in potato starch, and deep fried until golden and crispy. Finally, a generous squeeze of lemon juice over the bites not only adds a pleasant tartness, but also helps to cut through the oiliness.
Speaking of cutting through that grease, you can also employ some bubbles to stand up to the fat; pop a few lagers in the fridge an hour or two before fry time. Cheers!
I use large textured soy protein as a replacement for chicken, mainly because it will soak the marinade up like a sponge and so the fried pieces retain that ginger soy flavour. The chewy and stringy texture also complements the preparation. In London you can find these pieces at the better stocked Vietnamese markets such as Longdan (multiple locations) and Star Night (Hackney).
Potato starch might seem like one of those ingredients you’ll only use once so why should you bother buying it? The answer is I think it’s the best starch for helping to achieve a light and crispy texture in most fried foods. If I had to choose between potato and corn starch in my kitchen, I would pick the former. You will find potato stach at almost any East Asian grocer, but be mindful potato starch is not the same as potato flour.
Karaage is found everywhere in Japan, from Izakaya (Japanese style gastropubs) to 7-11s, and is welcome both alongside beer and packed in a lunch box. For a longer lasting crunch and an all around better texture, I recommend using potato starch, but if that isn’t something you keep then you can use 2 tablespoons of corn starch and 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour.
- 30 millilitres (1 tablespoon) soy sauce
- 30 millilitres (1 tablespoon) sake
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- Chopped spring onions (optional)
- 40 grams textured soy protein chunks (approximately 2.5 x 4 cm pieces, give or take)
- 40 grams (¼ cup) potato starch
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Lemon wedges, to serve
- Mix the flours, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl.
- Rehydrate the textured soy protein by combining in a large heat proof bowl with enough boiling water to cover the pieces substantially. Leave for at least 15 minutes to ensure the soy protein is fully rehydrated.
- Mix the ingredients for the marinade into a separate bowl that is large enough to hold the rehydrated soy protein with room to spare. Whisk or stir the marinade to ensure the sugar is dissolved.
- Squeeze the soy pieces of as much excess moisture as possible (they are sturdy, so don’t worry about them breaking up) and then place them into the bowl with the marinade. Combine the sauce and soy chunks with your hands, massaging and squeezing the pieces to encourage them to suck up the marinade. Leave for a couple of minutes.
- Prepare a plate with plenty of bunched kitchen roll for draining the kara age.
- Meanwhile add at least 1 inch of vegetable oil to a wok or saute pan and heat it to 180 degrees celsius (350 degrees fahrenheit). That’s around medium high.
- Toss the soy protein chunks in the flour mixture to coat each piece evenly. Deep fry the pieces for about five minutes, or until golden brown, turning every so often with tongs or cooking chopsticks. Don’t overcrowd the pan (you can always fry in two batches)
- Remove to kitchen roll to drain. Squeeze freshly sliced lemon over the vegan karaage, sprinkle with spring onion (if using), and serve immediately.
- Author; Kip Dorrell
- Serves 3-4 as an appetiser
- Cuisine: Japanese