Preparing Chicken karaage: Japanese fried chicken, aka chicken karaage, is very popular in Japan. It’s often served with a pickled vegetable, and Shuko’s version also has a simple fresh leek sauce. If you want to make the radish pickle you’ll need to plan two days ahead.
For the radish pickle
- 2g piece dried kombu
- 120ml/4fl oz rice vinegar
- 50g/1¾oz sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 bunch English radishes, washed, dried and halved lengthways
For the chicken karaage
- 15g/½oz piece fresh root ginger
- 50ml/2fl oz soy sauce
- 25ml/1fl oz sake
- 600g/1lb 5oz skinless and boneless chicken thighs or legs, cut into 5cm/2in cubes
- vegetable oil, for deep frying
- 40g/1½oz potato starch
For the negi sauce
- ½ leek (the white end), finely chopped
- 1 bunch (20g/¾oz) chives, finely chopped
- 15g/½oz unpeeled piece fresh root ginger, grated
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- ½ tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp roasted sesame oil
To make the radish pickle, first soak the kombu in 180ml/6fl oz water overnight.
Take the kombu out of the water and set aside. Pour the soaking water into a small pan with the rice vinegar, sugar and salt, bring to the boil, then turn off the heat. Stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved, then leave to cool.
Slice the kombu into thin strips. Submerge the radishes and kombu strips in the brine and leave in the fridge to pickle for at least 8 hours or overnight.
To make the chicken karaage, squeeze the grated ginger into a bowl (discard the ginger flesh after squeezing). Mix in the soy sauce and sake, add the chicken and marinate for 20 minutes.
To make the negi sauce, mix the leek, chives and ginger in a small bowl, along with the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and sesame oil.
Heat the oil in a deep frying pan to 170C. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.)
Discard most of the marinade, leaving a little at the bottom of the bowl, and mix in the potato starch. Turn the chicken pieces to ensure they are thoroughly coated. The meat should be a little sticky, but still powdery.
Put the chicken into the hot oil, one piece at a time, and fry in small batches for 4 minutes until golden brown.
Using a slotted spoon, lift the chicken out of the oil and set aside for 5 minutes while you increase the temperature of the oil to 190C.
Fry the chicken for a further 2 minutes until crisp. Drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper, then serve hot, with the sauce and pickles on the side.