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so long, summer

Recipe: honey sriracha japanese fried chicken karaage

I know most of you are groaning about summer’s end. The good news is that the majority of you summer lovers are still enjoying summer where you live. The even better news is that summer is fast becoming a faded memory here in the mountains! The overnight temperatures have brought frosts to the rooftops in my neighborhood and fresh dustings of snow to the high country. A crisp chill on the morning air rejuvenates me from the stupor of summer’s seemingly relentless heat. Long-sleeves are no longer optional at night. Fall is my favorite season – so spectacular and yet so fleeting in our mountains. And then comes the long winter, which is never really long enough for folks who like to glide on snow. Autumn is full of activity and colors and anticipation and acceptance.


neva and jeremy pause in front of mount neva

ducks diving for food – tails up!

the majestic moose

a leaping pika with forage for its winter hay pile

another pika with a flower in its mouth

so cute, i can’t even!



Cooler weather puts a spring in my step. I start checking my ski gear even though actual skiing may be more than two months away. The big camera lenses get shipped out for maintenance before the fall shoot. Maps are strewn about the living room for backpacking plans. And of course, recipes that have been put on hold over the summer (because it was too hot to think let alone cook) are perused with renewed interest. Shortly after our awesome trip to Steamboat Springs in January, I made a note to myself to reproduce the JFC we enjoyed at Yama. JFC – Japanese fried chicken or chicken karaage – is delicate, crunchy, juicy, and tender with Asian flavors. What I liked about Yama’s version was how the fried chicken was tossed in a honey sriracha sauce which turned the whole thing into a flavor bomb in my mouth.

make the chicken karaage: soy sauce, sake, potato starch, sugar, ginger, garlic, chicken thighs



It’s a quick marinade to make and the chicken marinates for an hour or more. While the restaurant version brines the chicken in buttermilk and miso, I opted for a recipe that was ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and sake because that’s what I had in my cupboards. To make this gluten-free, substitute tamari for soy sauce. If you can’t find potato starch you can use corn starch, but it won’t result in the same crispness when fried. You will probably have better luck getting potato starch from an Asian market, but Bob’s Red Mill potato starch is available at stores like Whole Foods. (I use potato starch when making strawberry daifuku mochi.)

grate the ginger

mise en place

combine the ginger, garlic, sugar, sake, and soy sauce

add the chicken

marinate for at least an hour



With the chicken in the refrigerator marinating away, I mixed up the honey sriracha sauce. It’s four ingredients, no cooking, just measuring and stirring. I worried that it was a little too fluid, but it coats the chicken perfectly. And although the sauce was nice and spicy straight up, it mellows somewhat when tossed with the fried chicken.

rice vinegar, sriracha, sesame oil, honey

stir it all together

beautifully bright red-orange



When the chicken was ready, I coated each piece in potato starch and set it aside on a plate. This way I could fry the chicken in batches and avoid frantic mode (frantic mode = coating and frying each piece while making a mess and losing track of when which piece went into the oil). The beauty of frying in potato starch is the lack of sogginess in the “batter”. Even after tossing the fried chicken in the honey sriracha sauce, the crust remained crunchy an hour later. If you want to make this ahead, don’t toss the fried chicken with the sauce. Keep the fried chicken and sauce separate and store them in the refrigerator. Heat the chicken in a moderate oven until warmed through, then toss with the sauce before serving. We tried this with some of the leftover fried chicken and the make-ahead version was as good as the fresh.

coat the chicken in potato starch

after frying, drain the pieces

drizzle the honey sriracha sauce over the fried chicken

toss to coat



We fell in love with Japanese fried chicken all over again! Not only is it crazy delicious, but the whole crunchy outside and tender inside with spicy-sweet sauce is rather addictive. Also? It’s easy to make. Maybe a little too easy to make. The make-ahead-ability means this could be a terrific appetizer for parties, too. I am hooked.

garnish with sesame seeds and green onions

appetizer or meal, you choose

it should be called crack chicken


Honey Sriracha Japanese Fried Chicken (Chicken Karaage)
[print recipe]
from No Recipes and sauce from Food Wishes

japanese fried chicken (chicken karaage)
1 lb. boneless chicken thighs (skin-on optional)
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, grated
2 tbsps soy sauce
1 tbsp sake
2 tsps sugar
1/3 cup potato starch
vegetable oil for frying

honey sriracha sauce
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup sriracha
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 tsp sesame oil

Marinate the chicken: Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces. Mix the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sake, and sugar together in a bowl or a ziploc bag. Add the chicken to the marinade and stir or massage (if using a ziploc bag) to coat the chicken pieces. Cover the bowl or seal the ziploc bag and refrigerate the chicken for at least an hour.

Make the honey sriracha sauce: Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir. Set aside.

Fry the chicken: Heat an inch of vegetable oil in a pot (a medium saucepan or a stock pot) to a temperature of 360°F. Coat each piece of chicken in potato starch and set on a plate. Working in batches, carefully lower several pieces of chicken into the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Remove the chicken from the oil to a cooling rack lined with paper towels.

When all of the chicken is fried, place the pieces in a bowl. Drizzle half of the honey sriracha sauce over the chicken, then gently toss the pieces to coat. Drizzle the rest of the sauce on the chicken and toss again. Serve hot. Serves 4-6 as an appetizer.

*To make ahead, don’t combine the sauce with the fried chicken. Refrigerate the fried chicken and the sauce separately. Reheat the fried chicken in a single layer in a 350°F oven for 5-8 minutes (until warmed through and crisp). Toss with the sauce and serve.


more goodness from the use real butter archives

korean barbecue chicken wings chinese honey walnut shrimp sweet and sour chinese mushrooms japanese tonkatsu (pork cutlet)

10 nibbles at “so long, summer”

  1. Pam says:

    This sounds delicious for sure. Could it be made with pork as well?

  2. Kristin says:

    The chicken looks and sounds yummy. Off topic: my son just got back from a week in Idaho, and was served huckleberry pie made with berries picked by his hosts. He said it was great, and I am so envious. He also said that there was huckleberry everywhere…ice cream, beer, soda, and more, but it was always sold out!

  3. Georgina says:

    I hate chicken wings you greasy, but I am drooling for this chicken. I think the siracha sauce will make it a great alternative instead. Can’t wait to try it :-P

  4. angelitacarmelita says:

    How could you not love an animal named a “pika”, that in itself is too cute…. and I would drag anything through honey sriracha sauce. I love that combo, no buffalo sauce for this girl.

  5. Ashton says:

    Potato starch!? Is this what I’ve been doing wrong for so many years? I’ve always used corn starch and I could never figure out why mine always always always got soft. I am SO excited to try this out this weekend.

  6. Jane Youngblood says:

    I never tire of reading your food blog. I enjoy your outdoor photographs as much, or even a teensy bit more than your delicious recipes. Thanks!

  7. Jill Hyde says:

    Yum yum! Love the details of the garnish! xo, jill
    ps- I share your feelings about summer!

  8. jenyu says:

    Pam – absolutely. I’m sure that would be just as delicious!

    Kristin – *packing for a trip to Idaho* :)

    Georgina – hope you like it!

    angelitacarmelita – gosh, I don’t even know what’s in buffalo sauce! Honey sriracha is definitely where it’s at!

    Ashton – potato starch gives a different result from cornstarch for sure. Also, it has a much nicer crisp texture when fried. I hope it worked for you!

    Jane – you’re such a dear xo

    Jill – :)

  9. TG says:

    I made this last night. It was EPIC.
    Muchos ta for the recipe.
    The sauce just by itself is also great. I can think of quite a few uses for it.

  10. Erin says:

    I’ve never fried anything before, but this sounded so delicious that I went for it – so, so good! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe! The leftover honey sriracha sauce is now going on everything.

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