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Yumi’s ‘Karaage’ Fried Chicken (KFC) Nuggets

Recipes

These crunchy chicken delights – best served with Kewpie mayo and tonkatsu sauce – are from radio and TV presenter Yumi Stynes’ latest cookbook.

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The follow-up to Stynes’ first book, The Zero F∗cks Cookbook, Zero F∗cks Cooking Endless Summer features 90 recipes which she promises won’t require hours of hard slog in the kitchen. To emphasise the point, they’re grouped under headings such as No Cook Wonders, Low Stress Impress and Oh Crap, It’s Dinner Time.

Stynes says the nuggets should require only around five minutes’ prep time (plus marinating) and 20 minutes’ cooking time.

Yumi’s ‘Karaage’ Fried Chicken (KFC) Nuggets

This is such a great little trick that at first I didn’t want to share it because, well, if you knew how easy it is then you’d never come over to my house and think I’m a genius again. It’s crunchy, tasty, moreish. It’s hot, tasty, filling. And it should be harder to make than it is, but the dusting of flour at the last minute does all the work. It’s bloody marvellous.

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

700g boneless chicken thighs (skin on, if possible), cut into nugget-sized pieces
750 ml (3 cups) vegetable oil
125g (1 cup) tapioca starch, potato flour or cornflour (cornstarch)

Marinade:
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon whipped garlic or ½  finely grated garlic clove
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon sake
2 teaspoons caster (superfine) sugar
1 teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
½ teaspoon ground cumin (optional)

To serve:
Hot cooked rice
Kewpie mayonnaise
Bull-dog tonkatsu sauce

Method

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large, non-reactive bowl. Throw the chicken pieces into the bowl, toss well and put it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. (The longer you leave it, the more flavours it’ll take on – it can sit in the fridge for up to 2 days, or you can cook it right away if you’re in a hurry.)

Pour the oil into a large heavy-based saucepan and heat it to deep-frying temperature, about 180C (350F). (You can check this by placing a wooden chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon in the centre of the oil. If it’s at deep-frying temperature, it should start a regular, pleasant boil. If it bubbles furiously, the oil is too hot.)

Have a wire rack close by covered with a double sheet of paper towel. Add the tapioca starch or flour to a bowl.

Working in four to five batches, take the chicken pieces out of the marinade and toss them through the bowl of starch or flour, coating them well, then lower them into the hot oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan. The chicken is cooked when it has gone a light tan colour and feels firm and hollow when you grab it with tongs, about 4–5 minutes.

Transfer to the prepared wire rack and repeat until all the chicken is cooked.

Serve with rice, Kewpie mayo and Bull-Dog tonkatsu sauce (shaved cabbage is good here, too, if you can be bothered).

Tips

  1. I always choose thigh fillets over breast fillets for this because I think the cut tastes better and is more interesting in the mouth. But by all means choose breast if you’d prefer – it will still cook well following these instructions.
  2. The two sauces, Kewpie mayo and Bull-Dog tonkatsu sauce, are available from Asian grocers and some mainstream supermarkets and are a key element in making this dish shit-hot.
  3. This is amazing cold for lunch the next day, so I recommend saving a few pieces or budgeting extra chicken for that purpose.

This is an edited extract from Zero F∗cks Cooking Endless Summer, by Yumi Stynes, $39.99, published by Hardie Grant.

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