What's The Difference Between Karaage Chicken And Fried Chicken?

On the surface, karaage chicken and fried chicken may appear to be the same thing. They look the same, they're cooked the same way, and they translate to mean the same thing in their respective languages. In fact, if you've never traveled to Asia, you may not have even heard of karaage chicken, which is a popular staple in Japan.

Fried chicken, on the other hand, is well-known all over North America and you probably believe some fried chicken myths. Whereas karaage chicken can be served with rice and karashi mustard sauce, fried chicken is great alongside mashed potatoes and coleslaw, per CookinDocs. If you're a fan of traditional fried chicken, there's a good chance you'll enjoy karaage chicken as well. Both options are deep-fried, seasoned, and bursting with flavor.

With all of these similarities, you might be itching to learn about the differences. In reality, there are quite a few key aspects that separate fried chicken from karaage chicken.

Preparation and ingredient differences

To find out the difference between the two foods, Grape interviewed Yasuhisa Teppei, chair of the Japan Karaage Association. "The main difference between fried chicken and karaage is whether you season the flour or season the meat," Teppei says. To clarify, karaage chicken is seasoned before it's coated, while fried chicken is seasoned after. "You add flavor to fried chicken through seasoning, but recently, some restaurants have been marinating their meat to make it softer. Meanwhile, karaage mix is basically seasoning. You could say that (fried chicken and karaage) are using each other's strengths to feather their nests."

The ingredients used to prepare the meats also differentiate between karaage and fried chicken. According to CookinDocs, the batter in karaage chicken contains garlic, soy sauce, potato starch, sake, and ginger. Alternatively, fried chicken can be anything from wings, drumsticks, and boneless tenders dipped in seasoned flour or batter.

The history of karaage

Karaage is actually a Japanese preparation method, as stated in CookinDocs, and might be the best Japanese food you probably haven't tried. Because of this, it can be used with other types of meats as well as fish. While fried chicken is typically mild and rich, karaage cooking results in crispy, strong, and spicy flavors. Chicken prepared both ways have a crispy, golden-brown exterior and juicy meat interior. As stated by Gurashii, karaage was invented sometime between 1603 to 1868, though it wasn't introduced to tabletops until 30 to 40 years ago. Chinese food was implemented into Japanese culture in the Edo period, and vegetarian cooking specifically led to the creation of karaage, which purportedly tastes like a mixture of chicken and french fries.

To sum it up, the differences between karaage chicken and fried chicken come down to the preparation method and the batter and ingredients used. Though they may look and feel similar, the flavor of the two varies wildly.