What is karaage?

by Donna Berry
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Karaage, shown on a plate with lime wedges and dipping sauce, is a style of Japanese cooking that involves deep frying breaded pieces of meat and fish.
Karaage produces juicy meat surrounded by a super-crispy coating. (photo: Nipponham Group)
 

Karaage, pronounced kah-rah-ah-geh, is a style of Japanese cooking that involves deep frying breaded pieces of meat and fish, most notably chicken. The protein is marinated prior to breading for an extra layer of flavor. The technique resembles tempura; however, the result is quite different because of the coating.

With karaage, the goal is to have super juicy meat inside with an extra crispy and crunchy outside. The meat marinade typically consists of soy sauce, ginger and rice wine. Variations include adding garlic, pepper or sesame. The breading is actually more of a coating, as it is not crumbly. It should be a heavy layer of potato starch blended with white flour, which yields a crispy texture. This is unlike tempura, which is usually corn starch with flour, and often contains egg for a lighter, softer batter-enrobed meat.

It is quite common to find karaage sold on skewers in open markets. It’s also popular in convenience stores and pubs. Often it’s consumed on a bed of greens or rice with a range of dipping sauces.

Karaage, shown here on skewers, is a style of Japanese cooking that involves deep frying breaded pieces of meat and fish.
Consumers can enjoy karaage at home. (Photo: Nipponham Group)
 

Companies such as Nipponham Group are making it easy for consumers to serve karaage at home. The company has developed a number of fully cooked frozen chicken karaage products that can be warmed in the microwave, oven or deep fried for extra crispiness. There’s even a chicken wing karaage, which gives a new spin to this classic finger food. The wings are marinated with a special blend of herbs and spices for a unique heat and sweet fusion. The coating and deep frying yields a very tender and juicy wing where the meat literally falls off the bone.

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