Japanese Fried Chicken (Karaage)
Start to finish: 1 hour 45 minutes (15 minutes active), plus resting
WE USUALLY PREFER A wand-style grater for fresh ginger, but here the larger holes of a box grater were best; it was easier to squeeze juice from the thicker pulp. The chicken’s distinctive tang came from shichimi to garnish—a Japanese rice seasoning with chili pepper, roasted orange peel, sesame seeds, seaweed and ginger. It’s widely available in Asian markets. Tamari is a gluten-free Japanese soy sauce with a darker color and bold- er flavor than other soy sauces, but any soy sauce will work. A large pot or Dutch oven (at least 6 quarts) was essential for frying.
For the chicken:
- 3-ounce chunk fresh ginger, coarsely grated
- ¼ cup sake
- ¼ cup tamari
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into thirds
- 2 cups (8 ounces) cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon shichimi to garnish (Japanese rice seasoning)
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 quarts peanut or vegetable oil
For the dipping sauce:
- ¼ cup tamari
- ¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
- ¼ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Gather the ginger in your hands and squeeze as much juice as possible into
a large bowl. Add the ginger solids to the bowl and stir in the sake, tamari and lemon zest. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet. In a large bowl, combine the corn- starch, shichimi to garnish and pepper. Working 1 piece at a time, remove the chicken from the marinade, letting excess drip off, and dredge in the cornstarch mixture, pressing evenly to adhere on all sides. Transfer to the rack and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
In a 7-quart Dutch oven, heat the oil to 375ºF. Add a third of the chicken to the hot oil and fry, stirring to prevent sticking, until the chicken is deep golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a clean wire rack, return the oil to 375ºF and repeat twice with the remaining chicken.
Don’t let the chicken sit for longer than an hour after coating it before frying. It will get gummy.
For the dipping sauce:
Whisk together all ingredients.
Japanese Potato Salad
Start to finish: 1 hour (15 minutes active)
GETTING POTATO SALAD right is no picnic. Too often it lacks the acidity or piquancy needed to cut through the richness of the mayonnaise. Our search for a better spud salad led us to Japan, where potato salads are partially mashed to create a creamier texture. And they balance that texture with crumbled hard-boiled egg and the crisp bite of vegetables, such as cucumber and carrots. Tying everything together is Kewpie, a style of Japanese mayonnaise made with rice vinegar. At Milk Street, we started by looking for the right potato, which turned out to be Yukon Gold. Salting them during cooking seasoned them nicely, as did sprinkling them with vinegar and black pepper as they cooled. It was important to wait until the potatoes were at room temperature before adding mayonnaise to avoid oiliness. We used American mayonnaise but approximated the Kewpie flavor by increasing the vinegar and adding an extra hard-cooked egg yolk and 1 teaspoon of sugar. For a savory touch, we added diced ham and finished with scallions.
- 1 Persian cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and shredded
- ¼ cup minced red onion
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 1½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 ounces thick-cut smoked deli ham, diced (about ⅓ cup)
- 1 hard-cooked egg plus 1 hard-cooked egg yolk, diced
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 2 scallions, finely sliced
In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber, carrot, onion and 2 teaspoons of salt, mixing until evenly coated; set aside. In a large saucepan over high, combine the potatoes with enough water to cover by 1 inch. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and simmer until tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
Drain the potatoes, then transfer to a large bowl. Using a fork, coarsely mash half of the potatoes. Sprinkle with the vinegar and ¾ teaspoon of pepper. Stir to combine, then spread in an even layer along the bottom and sides of the bowl. Let cool for at least 20 minutes.
Transfer the vegetable mixture to a fine mesh strainer and rinse well. Work- ing in batches, use your hands to squeeze the vegetables, removing as much liquid as possible, then add to the potatoes. Add the mayonnaise, ham, whole egg and yolk, and the sugar. Fold until thoroughly combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Sprinkle with scallions, then serve chilled or at room temperature.
Don’t substitute starchy russet or waxy new potatoes. The smooth texture of partly mashed Yukon Golds gave us the creamy consistency we wanted.
Sweet-and-Spicy Ginger Green Beans
Start to finish: 10 minutes
WE COOKED THE BEANS in a very hot pan, without moving, to develop browning and flavor, then added water to steam them until tender. Drying the beans thoroughly minimized splatter, and halving them on a steep bias allowed them to absorb more flavor. A final dose of vinegar, added off heat, prevented the beans from losing their bright green color.
- 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 pound green beans, stemmed and halved on the bias crosswise
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- Ground white pepper
In a small bowl stir together the sugar, fish sauce and soy sauce. Set aside.
In a large Dutch oven or 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until beginning to smoke. Add the beans and cook, without stirring, until beginning to color, about 3 minutes. Add the water and immediately cover the pan. Cook until the beans are bright green and barely tender, about 2 minutes.
Clear a space in the center of the pan, then add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the clearing. Stir in the ginger and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour the sugar-fish sauce mixture into the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has thickened and coats the beans, about 1 minute. Off of the heat, stir in the vinegar. Taste and season with pepper.
Don’t use an ill-fitting lid. A proper seal was key to this recipe, whether you cook the beans in a Dutch oven or a skillet. Have the lid ready as soon as you add water to the pan.
PHOTO CREDIT: CONNIE MILLER OF CB CREATIVES