Japanese Fried or Baked Chicken

Kara-age is a Japanese cooking method that is used typically for chicken or fish. The chicken or fish is marinated in a soy sauce based marinade with ginger and garlic, coated with a flour and potato starch mixture, and deep fried. The most popular kara-age uses chicken, and it is one of the most popular dishes for kids.

Tatsuta-age is another type of fried chicken originally, but now people use the words interchangeably. It is supposed to be only coated with potato starch (no flour), whereas kara-age is coated with a flour and potato starch mixture and sometimes with eggs too. So, tatsuta-age has less batter outside, and kara-age tends to have thicker butter. My image of tatsuta-age is lighter and crispier than kara-age for this reason. So, I should really call my recipe here tatsuta-age not kara-age, but now it matters less since most Japanese fried chicken is called kara-age whether coated with just potato starch or not.

Kara-age is a very popular food for a bento box (lunch box) in Japan, and I do like to make it sometimes for my kids’ bento boxes. But it is a bit of work to fry chicken in the morning. So, often I make kara-age in the oven. It is quite tasty, and it is so much easier and cleaner to make. So I am including a recipe for baked kara-age as well. Both are good, so try whichever method fits you better.

Fried Chicken Kara-age / Baked Chicken Kara-age

1 lb boneless chicken thighs or breast, cut into bite size pieces
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sake
1/2 inch ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, grated
2 tablespoons canola oil for baking or canola oil for frying

Instructions :
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Marinate the chicken with the soy sauce, sake, ginger and garlic for about 20 minutes.
Put cornstarch in a bowl. Take each piece of chicken and toss to coat evenly shaking off excess.
Heat the oil to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F) and deep fry until golden brown. Transfer chicken to a paper towel lined plate.
Serve with lemon wedges if you like.

Instructions :
Follow same instruction 1-3 above.
Add 2 tablespoons canola oil to a baking pan, and put the pan in the oven for 5 minutes to warm up the oil. Take the pan out. Lay chicken on the pan, spread apart, and put it back in the oven.
After 10 minutes, flip chicken over, and continue cooking until nicely brown about another 10-15 minutes.
Serve with lemon wedges if you like.


I am originally from Japan and have been living in the US for about 20 years. Over the past 20 years I have traveled to many different parts of the world, seen different cultures, and tasted all kinds of interesting food. In between I studied anthropology, art and interior design. I currently live outside Boston and I teach cooking in continuing education programs and at home. I also take on freelance interior design projects. I hope you enjoy the blog! Yoko

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