A couple of weeks ago I got a great gift. Wife had gone out and purchased for me the Hashi cookbook. It’s got to be the best Japanese cookbook out there. The book starts with a lovely foreword from the author, Reiko Hashimoto (@hashicooking), goes on to discuss some of the more interesting points surrounding Japanese food culture, and then takes you through equipment and utensils, store cupboard ingredients, fresh ingredients and some basic stocks, sauces and pastes. It’s really well illustrated as well, I just love it.
Now to the recipes. The book is described as a ‘Japanese Cookery Course’ and the recipe pages are split into 5 sections: Beginners (Authentic and Easy to Prepare Dishes); Home Cooking (Low Budget & Comfort Food); Gourmet (Beautiful & Sophisticated); Sushi (Japan’s National Dish); and Desserts (Japan Meets France).
This recipe is from the Home Cooking section. I picked it because I’m a big fan of fried chicken from all over the world and there’s a lot I can compare the finished product to.
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sake
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tbsp grated (peeled) fresh root ginger
- 1/2 tsp grated garlic
- 500g skinless, boneless, chicken thigh fillets, cut into large bite-size pieces
- 1 litre vegetable oil (for frying)
- Cornflour (for dusting)
- Lemon or lime wedges, to serve
Method of Preparation:
- Mix the soy, sake, mirin, ginger, sugar and garlic together in a shallow dish until the sugar has dissolved
- Add the chicken pieces, turning them over to make sure they are completely covered in the marinade
- Cover and leave to marinate for at least 2-3 hours, ideally overnight. If you only have a couple of hours then really rub the marinade into the chicken to help it absorb the flavours more quickly
- Heat the vegetable oil in a deep, heavy based saucepan or a wok over a medium heat until it reaches 170°C
- Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade (discard the marinade) and dust the all over with cornflour, making sure each piece is well coated.
- Deep fry the chicken pieces in the hot oil for about 2 – 3 minutes or until dark golden brown (but not burnt!) and crisp.
- Remove and drain on kitchen paper and then serve with lemon or lime wedges.
This was so easy I was blown away. From starting the marinade to getting it in the fridge was less than 5 minutes and then I literally just had to wait until Wife got home to start cooking it.
When I removed the chicken from the marinade I laid them on a piece of tin foil and quite heavily dusted them on each side with cornflour. As soon as that was done and the oil was at temperature I fried them off in 2 batches for about 3 minutes each. Remember to watch the oil temperature when you put your chicken in as it will drop somewhat.
That was it, I half filled a couple of bowls with mixed leaves and just placed the chicken on top with a couple of wedges of lime in there. It sounds really simple, and it is, but when we started eating the chicken it became an instant favourite. Traditional flavours, a delicious and satisfying crunch and when you add the squeeze of lemon or lime the whole thing comes alive with zesty enthusiasm. This dish will be cooked over and over again in this household, I guarantee it.
In terms of comparisons I would have to say it’s a world apart from any other fried chicken I’ve had. The pieces are so juicy and crunchy with those distinctive Asian flavours, I’m sorry Colonel, I’ve found a new favourite.
For those of you who are very interested in this style of cooking the author runs a successful Japanese cookery school in London. You can find the details of this and her other work on her website: http://www.hashicooking.co.uk/