Categories
Cooking Japanese Recipe

Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)

When I worked in Japan on the JET Programme, my adopted hometown of Nakatsu took pride in the local specialty of karaage (kah-rah-ah-gay), a kind of fried chicken. Locals told me that when Kentucky Fried Chicken, which is pretty popular across Japan, opened up in Nakatsu, it couldn’t stay in business because Nakatsu residents preferred karaage. Here’s my personal take on karaage:

Ingredients

This recipe serves 2 people as the main protein in a meal, or about 4 people as a shared appetizer.

  • 400 grams (14 ounces) of chicken, cut into roughly uniform chunks, about the size of a McNugget (I don’t know how else to describe it). In Nakatsu, skin-on chicken thigh is usually used, but I used boneless skinless chicken breast for the batch in the picture and they came out great.
  • King Arthur’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour, for dredging – the mix of tapioca, rice, and potato starch make for a light and crispy crust. Traditional recipes often call for katakuriko (Japanese potato starch)
  • Canola or vegetable oil for shallow-frying
  • 1 fresh lemon, lime, or kabosu

For the marinade:

  • 1 scallion, minced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, grated or pounded with a mortar and pestle
  • 2-3 cm (~inch) piece of peeled fresh ginger, grated or pounded
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon shichimi togarashi, Japanese mixed chili pepper powder – optional
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, Kikkoman organic is my go-to brand; Use tamari instead soy sauce and the whole recipe is gluten-free
  • 1/2 tablespoon sake, cooking sake or the cheap stuff is fine
  • 1 teaspoon mirin, I prefer the all-natural traditional method mirin from Eden Foods. The mirin is optional, you could substitute half a teaspoon of sugar instead.
  • 1/2 tablespoon Kewpie Mayonnaise, What is this mayonnaise madness you ask? It helps the marinade adhere to the chicken, helps keep the chicken moist (important if you are using breast), and adds a bit of sweetness and umami as well.

Instructions

Finely mince or pound the solid marinade ingredients in a mortar and pestle. Combine with all of the liquid marinade ingredients in a bowl and add the chicken pieces.

Coat the chicken with the marinade and let sit for 30 minutes.

Then dredge each piece of chicken in the all-purpose gluten-free flour. There is enough seasoning in the marinade itself, so there is no need to season the flour. Each piece of chicken should be lightly coated in flour.

Heat your oil in a cast iron or other sturdy pan. You only need enough oil for each chicken piece to be halfway submerged in oil. On my electric stove, I do this on medium heat. You will know when the oil is ready when you insert a wooden chopstick or skewer and it bubbles.

Fry three or four piece of chicken at a time until golden brown. Mine took about a minute and a half on each side. Be careful not to fry too many piece at a time, or you will cool down your oil too much.

Drain the chicken on a paper towel or cooling rack. Then serve with a squeeze of the lemon, lime, or kabosu. I also like to dip mine in some more Kewpie Mayo and a sprinkle of the shichimi togarashi.


To give you an idea of how serious Nakatsu is about karaage, here is a video (in Japanese) about how Nakatsu broke the Guinness World Record in 2019 for the largest serving of fried chicken made in a single day.

Categories
Cooking Japanese

Yuzu Cake

This yuzu cake features the aroma of a fragrant Japanese citrus fruit. The cake itself is a cross between an American style loaf cake and the Portuguese-inspired Japanese castella cake. It’s great on its own, or you can make it even more extra with some yuzu mezcal syrup. I just made some for my birthday. No stand mixer, creaming butter, or other advanced techniques necessary!

Ingredients

  • 200 grams all-purpose wheat flour
  • 5 grams baking soda
  • 10 grams miso
  • 5 grams vanilla extract
  • 120 grams of sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 100 grams creme fraiche (or sour cream)
  • 120 grams of Perfect Puree Yuzu Luxe Sour (defrosted)
  • 150 grams melted butter (warm, not hot)

If you are making this boozy, you will need a bit more of the Yuzu Luxe Sour and some mezcal or rum.

Instructions

Sift the flour and baking soda together in a bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, dissolve the miso in the vanilla extract and stir into a paste. Then add the sugar and incorporate. Next, whisk in the eggs until combined, followed by the creme fraiche and yuzu. Then fold in the flour and baking soda and mix until combined. Be sure not to overmix.

Transfer to a loaf pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes at 175 C / 350 F. Check to test doneness with a toothpick or skewer, which should come out clean.

You can serve the cake as is, or liven it up with some yuzu mezcal syrup, which is two parts of the defrosted Perfect Puree Yuzu Sour mix and 1 part of mezcal (or rum). Poke holes in the loaf cake with a toothpick to help the syrup permit, then drizzle the mixture onto the cake to absorb. Start with a few tablespoons of the syrup to start, you can always drizzle some extra on to make it boozier and yuzu-ier when you serve the cake. 

Categories
Japanese Music YouTube

Happy Year of the Rat Attack

I recently got to play a capoeira fighting henchman in this new video from musical YouTubers The Gregory Brothers and Japanese yodeling sensation Takeo Ischi. Happy year of the Rat Attack, y’all! 🐀Hope you enjoy the music video.

Categories
Design Foossa Innovation Japan Japanese

See Think Solve: A Simple Way to Tackle Tough Problems

Brainstorming and design thinking are great. But you, your team or your students need a more targeted way to solve complex problems. Social science holds the key.

We just released a new book.

Written by our friends and long-time collaborators Jeff Leitner and Andrew Benedict-Nelson, and designed by me and the Foossa team, See Think Solve is a simple guide to difficult problems.

Originally developed for a social work PhD program at the University of Southern California, it is written in an easy-to-read, jargon-free style for anyone interested in better understanding human behavior and how to design products, services, and programs that shift collective norms and culture. The ideas in the book have really shaped our consulting and teaching practice.

From the Introduction to See Think Solve:

The main reason problems are hard to solve is that they involve people. People are funny. They don’t always believe the things they say they believe or do the things they say they are going to do. They can act one way in one situation and act completely differently in another situation. No one has ever completely figured this out. We call this the ‘mystery of human behavior.’
The mystery of human behavior shapes almost every problem worth solving.
That’s the bad news. But there’s good news too. The mystery of human behavior also helps us see problems in new ways. By paying attention to people, we can discover new aspects of problems that help us solve them more effectively.
The nine steps in See Think Solve are designed to do just that. They will help you make sense of the mystery of human behavior that surrounds all tough problems.
– The first six steps are about seeing — each of them shows you a new thing to look for in human behavior.
– The next two steps are about thinking — each one is a tool you can use to better understand the human behaviors you have observed.
– The last step is about solving — it describes what you can accomplish with your newfound knowledge.”

See Think Solve Color Palette
See Think Solve Color Palette

About the Design

When planning the design for the book, we wanted to communicate both “simplicity” and “humanity.” The book is meant to be a simple guide to difficult social problems. To reflect this intention, we created an iconography that references both the periodic table of elements and the New York City Subway signage system by Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda. The icons serve as a kind of way-finding for readers of the book and help them remember each of the steps in the See Think Solve process. To add a rich, humanistic feel to the visuals, we chose a color palette derived from traditional Japanese art and design. The book cover also features subtle curves on a dark grey background, which are meant to evoke a topographical map or electromagnetic waves.
Buy See Think Solve on Amazon
Categories
Japanese Technology Video

Rainstorm with ActionScript

Today in my Intro to Flash Animation class (COM 380), we learned how to animate random rain using ActionScript. Here is the example I made with My Neighbor Totoro.

Download the FLA source file here.