Fried chicken – classic Southern comfort at it’s best. While Kentucky Fried comes to mind when I think of chicken, I bet you didn’t know that fried chicken is a Southern Japanese food as well! Chicken Nanban, originating in Kyushu, is a popular take on fried chicken covered in a hot 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, a little sour, and just a little hot, 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 (or nanbansu) 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!
Recipe – Chicken Nanban:
– Prepare the nanban sauce by mixing all the ingredients in a small pot. Cook over medium heat until the sugar has disolved, then remove from heat and set aside. (The sauce can be made several days in advance.)
– Combine all the tartar sauce ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. Transfer to the fridge until ready to use.
– Prep the chicken by cutting into bite size pieces. Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired.
– Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. The oil should be at least two or three inches deep to be able to fully cover the chicken. While the oil is warming up, prepare your chicken by lightly coating the chicken with flour. Whisk the egg in a small bowl and set aside.
– When the oil is ready it’s time to cook the chicken in batches. Dip a piece of the flour-coated chicken in the egg and gently ease into the oil. Continue adding pieces to the pan until the pan is full. (If you add too much chicken at once you’ll drop the temperature and the chicken might stick together!)
– Cook for about four to five minutes until the color turns golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel and continue with the rest of the chicken.
– Once all the chicken has been fried, it’s time for a brief dipping in the nanban sauce. Add a few pieces of chicken to the sauce at a time and stir to coat, then transfer to a plate to serve. For a more sour taste, you can leave the chicken in longer, up to a few hours, but I like a lightly sour taste!
– Serve the chicken piping hot with tartar sauce on the side.