With the special day barely a week away, we’ve invited Snow Peak resident chef Hideko to share her Christmas dinner plans. She’ll be swapping the traditional turkey and trimmings for a Japanese-inspired feast, centred around fried chicken ‘Karaage’. Read on to discover a little bit more about her culture, including, how this dish became a firm, festive favourite in Japan, and how you can make it yourself at home.
Christmas Day in Japan
In Japan, Christmas Eve is the main event. It’s the biggest day to celebrate and is often spent with a partner or friends at a party, rather than just with the family. On the 25th, towns and cities across the country are bustling with people as shops stay open, and everyone is out having a good time.
Then, when it comes to New Year, all members of the family come together for a big celebration. It’s a different, perhaps more European way of celebrating, but means we get to spend the day with the people we love.
Japan’s Christmas Meal: Fried Chicken
Every Christmas, an estimated 3.6 million Japanese families have fried chicken ‘Karaage’ for their holiday meal. It has become a real tradition for Japanese people to celebrate Christmas this way. The unofficial sound of Christmas is the Mariya Takeuchi song ‘Sutekina Holiday’, which now features on the KFC commercial, letting us all know that Christmas is coming!
In the 1970s there was no ‘traditional’ way to celebrate Christmas in Japan, plus it was not easy to find a turkey, so we ended up with fried chicken as an alternative. In 1974, a fried chicken company in Japan launched a ‘Fried Chicken for Christmas’ campaign which proved to be a huge success. It went nationwide and led to a tradition being established of Japanese people making chicken for Christmas.
Japanese Fried Chicken Karaage Recipe
IGT 4 unit frame, IGT legs x 4
(any required height) Flat burner x2.
Any additional inserts.
Ingredients (4 people):
300 g boneless chicken thighs
1 and 1/2 Tbsp corn starch
4 cups oil (for deep-frying)
For the Seasoning:
1 knob ginger
1 clove garlic
1 and 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp cooking sake
1/2 tsp roasted sesame oil
For Serving (Optional)
Japanese mayonnaise (for dipping)
- Cut each chicken thigh into 2-inch pieces.
- Grate the ginger and the garlic.
- Combine the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, cooking sake, and sesame oil. Whisk it all together.
- Add the chicken to the bowl and mix it. Cover and keep in the refrigerator to marinate for minimum 30 minutes.
- Pour the oil into a heavy-bottomed pot and heat it to 160°C, on medium heat.
- Drench each marinated chicken piece in the corn starch, and then remove the excess starch.
- When the oil temperature has reached 160°C (you’ll know it’s ready when you drop corn starch into the oil and small bubbles appear around it!), gently submerge each chicken piece into the oil.
- First Deep-Frying: Deep-fry for 90 seconds, or until the outside of the chicken is a light golden colour.
- The residual heat will continue to cook the chicken as it rests on the plate.
- Second Deep-Frying: Now, heat the oil to 180°C. Place the resting chicken back into the oil and deep-fry for 45 seconds, or until the skin is golden brown and crispy.
Now, eat and enjoy!