All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Tori no karaage / fried chicken

The standard dish for picnics, parties and bento lunch boxes – probably one of the top 10 bento items I made in my high school days. I’m still using the same recipe.


2 chicken thighs

For marinade
1 knob ginger
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sake

3 tbsp potato starch
Oil (for deep-frying, not in photo)
Lemon (for serving, not in photo)


Skin and debone chicken.
Remove as much fat as possible.
Cut into 3cm pieces.

Grate ginger.
Squeeze ginger juice over chicken.
Pour soy sauce and sake, and marinate for several hours to overnight. 


When ready to cook, heat oil to 180 C/355 F (the photo shows vigorous fine bubbles coming up from the tips of chopsticks, which is a sign of much higher oil temperature, probably close to 190 C/375 F).

Put potato starch in a tray or on plate.
Coat chicken, and deep-fry for a few minutes. 

When almost done, raise heat somewhat, wait for a while, and lift each piece with one end still immersed in oil, and remove from oil to a paper towel-lined tray or plate.


Serve hot with wedges of lemon.

  • When oil temperature is low (because of the setting or from cooking lots of chicken pieces at once), batter gets very greasy. When this happens, deep-fry chicken a second time at higher temperature (185-190 C/365-375 F) for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • The standard size of chicken pieces is slightly larger than the circle made with your thumb and index finger. Chicken pieces this size do not take more than 3-4 minutes to cook. Frying longer makes them dry.
  • Alternatively, first coat chicken with lightly beaten egg and then with potato starch. Egg works as a shield to keep moisture inside and prevents the final dish from being dry. This works well when using chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs. It also helps to keep the outside crispy when chicken cools (and is thus recommended when cooking for a picnic or bento box, but of course this raises calories …) 
  • For aromatic variations, garlic and sesame oil are nice additions (together or separately) to the marinade.
  • Tori literally means birds. When it comes to ingredients, tori means chicken.

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