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Chicken nuggets are gold when made Japanese style

By Betty Shimabukuro

LAST UPDATED: 09:40 a.m. HST, Jan 15, 2014

Karaage chicken is the Japanese version of chicken nuggets. Like nuggets, karaage comes in many versions, but the general theme is bite-size bits of boneless chicken marinated in a soy-sauce base, then lightly breaded and fried.

"Kara" is Japanese for "empty"; "age" for "fried" -- the combined meaning referring to the lack of a heavy batter on the chicken.

"Enough with the lesson," you may say. "Just feed me."

OK, OK. Lillian Uehara wrote for a recipe, noting that her grandson especially likes the version served at Futaba Restaurant and Catering in Waipahu. With Futaba closing in a few weeks, chef Tadao Nezu was willing to share. His recipe is made with a good dose of sake and goes by the name Shigure Age Chicken; "shigure" meaning "showers," which doesn't seem to apply. Tadao Nezu says it is a name the Japanese commonly attach to fried foods.

I took the recipe for a test-fry Sunday. The results were quite tasty, and the nuggets had a nice crunch.

A few tips: As with all deep-frying, watch the temperature of your oil so that the nuggets cook through without absorbing too much oil and becoming greasy. Use a very light touch with the potato starch. My first pieces had too much, and the starch sort of "bloomed," with white spots appearing as the chicken cooled. If this happens to you, just dust it off. Also, the recipe calls for marinating overnight, but that might make it too salty for some people. A shorter soak could be in order.


3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup potato starch
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
» Marinade:
1 cup sake
2 cups soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon grated garlic

Combine marinade ingredients. Pour over chicken and marinate overnight.

Heat oil to 375 degrees. Remove chicken from marinade. Coat pieces very lightly in potato starch and shake off excess. Deep-fry until golden brown. Shake off excess oil and dry on paper towels. Serves 6.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving: 600 calories, 37 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 215 mg cholesterol, greater than 2,500 mg sodium, 12 g carbohydrate, no fiber or sugar, 49 g protein


Nutritional analysis by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S. Write "By Request," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or email requests to bshimabukuro@staradvertiser.com.

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