Our next stop in our Around the World tour takes us to Yokohama, Japan. Now the Japanese obviously have Sushi, but I felt that was too much of a “gimme” for the blog, that, and you can find sushi at every corner store these days, so I wanted something different. The Japanese have a version of fried chicken though, that was similar enough to be comfortable to Westerners, but different enough to be exotic. Enter Chicken Nanban! Originating in Kyushu, is a popular take on fried chicken covered in a sweet and sour sauce. One bite and you’ll never think of fried chicken the same again!
Nanban means European countries in old Japanese, and as the name suggests, it was influenced by the European settlers that came in Japan. As such, it is a Yoshoku dish, combining Western ingredients with Japanese taste. A little sweet, and a little sour, the flavors blend beautifully in each crispy bite. You might notice this recipe is a little different in that we dredge the chicken in flour and then coat with egg. No, that’s no mistake, it’s truly how the dish is made. Coating the chicken in this way evokes a tempura like texture with a light and springy bite, creating a really unusual and memorable dish. Then we briefly dip it in Nanban sauce to let it soak up all the delicious flavor! While it may look like a lot of work, the dish comes together really easily, so it’s sure to be a hit for with fried chicken lovers! This recipe will serve 6.
3 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
3 tablespoons celery, finely chopped (about ½ – ¾ of a stalk)
1 ½ scallions/green onions, minced*
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 ½ teaspoons whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon lemon zest**
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
6 tablespoons soy sauce
6 tablespoons sake (can be substituted with sweet sherry)***
6 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 pounds chicken thighs – boneless skin-on
vegetable oil for frying
flour – all-purpose for dusting
salt and pepper
To prepare the tartar sauce, add the boiled egg, celery, scallion, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon zest, and lemon juice to a bowl and stir to combine. Add salt and white pepper to taste.
To make the nanban sauce, add the soy sauce, sake, sugar and ginger to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 1 minute and then add the vinegar. When the sauce returns to a boil, turn off the heat.
Add 2-inches of oil to heavy bottomed pot and heat to 340 degrees F (test with a kitchen thermometer). Prepare a wire cooling rack positioned over a drip pan for once the chicken has fried.
Trim any excess fat off the chicken and lightly salt and pepper. Dust the chicken with flour. Beat the eggs in a bowl until uniform and then dip the chicken in the eggs to thoroughly coat.
Gently lower the egg coated chicken skin-side down into the hot oil and then drizzle a little of the remaining egg onto the tops of each piece of chicken. The drizzled egg will quickly expand and spread out. Use tongs or chopsticks to fold the egg back over the chicken. You may need to fry the chicken in batches.
Fry the chicken until its golden brown and cooked through (about 6-8 minutes). You may need to flip the chicken over once halfway through to evenly brown the top.
Transfer the fried chicken, fluffy side down to the wire rack and drizzle half the nanban sauce onto the smooth side. Flip the chicken over and then drizzle the remaining sauce onto the fluffy side. Slice and serve the chicken with the tartar sauce immediately.