By Sanae Nokura / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterMy request to cooking expert Hitomi Tsutsumi was for a refreshing yet energizing dish. She shared this recipe for karaage fried chicken pieces with a naganegi Welsh onion sauce.
The tart sauce’s use of an entire raw negi stalk helps complement the juicy fried chicken well. This is not a mere chicken dish since the main actor is the sauce, not the meat.
“You’ll use quite a lot of raw negi for this sauce,” Tsutsumi said. “As the sauce makes good use of the vinegar, you can enjoy the refreshing tartness of the dish.”
The sauce Tsutsumi made was not so sweet and uses the sesame oil to add flavor.
“I made this sauce to help the negi’s pungency and aroma stand out,” she said.
The food expert recommended adding sesame seeds or sansho pepper to the sauce for a more complex flavor.
For karaage, thigh meat is recommended for its favorable texture.
“It also goes well with the negi sauce,” Tsutsumi said.
There are some tips for frying chicken in a crispy and juicy way. One is to coat the chicken with katakuriko potato starch twice. First, add the potato starch after seasoning the chicken and rub the meat thoroughly. When the katakuriko becomes moist, add additional starch. Just before placing them in cooking oil, tightly clench the chicken pieces in your fist to make them round.
“This step can help the shape of your karaage and keep them juicy,” Tsutsumi said.
Don’t move the chicken pieces for a while after they are in the cooking oil. After you do turn them over the first time, turn up the heat to raise the oil temperature. Then repeatedly take them out and replace them in the oil to allow the water content to evaporate.
The chicken soon turns golden brown and the frying sounds become somewhat softer.
“Place the tips of your cooking chopsticks on the meat. If you feel simmering vibrations, it’s an indication that the chicken is done,” Tsutsumi said.
A hefty amount of the negi sauce is poured over the just-fried karaage. When eaten with the soft chicken, the negi sauce became mild as juices coming from the meat complemented the tartness of the vinegar and aroma of the sesame oil. And the crisp texture of chopped negi was also pleasant. This negi sauce can also work well when poured over cold tofu or steamed chicken, Tsutsumi said.
Dashi-soaked greens on the side
As a side dish, Tsutsumi recommended okra and string beans soaked in dashi broth.
Place 10 okra on a cutting board, sprinkle salt over them and roll them in the salt by hand. Cut off the end with the stalk.
Remove the ends and strings from eight string beans. Bring salted water to a boil and put the string beans in for about 2 minutes. Add the okra just before the string beans are finished.
Cool the vegetables in cold water and drain. Cut the string beans diagonally in half.
Mix 1 cup of dashi broth, julienned ginger, ½ tbsp of lemon juice, just under 1 tsp of salt and a tiny bit of soy sauce. Soak the vegetables in the mixture for about 15 minutes.
Recipe for karaage fried chicken with negi sauce
Ingredients (serves 2-3):
2 small chicken thighs (400 grams)
2 tbsp sake
2 tsp soy sauce
⅓ tsp salt
Pinch of pepper
1 clove of garlic, grated
1 knob of ginger, grated
4-5 tbsp potato starch
1 naganegi long Welsh onion, chopped
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp water
2 tsp soy sauce
¼ tsp sugar
1. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and place in a tray. Add sake, soy sauce, salt, pepper, garlic and ginger and rub them over the chicken. Add 3 tbsp potato starch and continue to rub the chicken. When the powder is evenly spread, add an additional 1 or 2 tbsp starch. Firmly clench each piece in your fist until they become round.
2. Put cooking oil 3 centimeters deep into a frying pan. Heat the oil to 170 C. Put the chicken into the oil. Fry for about 2 minutes, turn over the pieces and fry for another 1 minute. Turn the heat higher to 180 C. Fry for 1 to 1½ minutes while occasionally scooping the pieces out of the oil to expose them to air.
3. In a bowl, mix the naganegi, sesame oil, vinegar, water, soy sauce and sugar well. Serve the chicken on a plate and pour the sauce over the meat.
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