It was a dark and stormy night (not really); dinner was an hour late, the sun had set about 30 minutes ago and there was little time to do off-camera lighting setup. I had hastily arranged the Chicken Nanban into cocktail glasses and hoped it looked fancy.
…Let’s be honest, my attempts were in vain and I might as well add that Chicken Nanban is NOT a fancy dish—it’s messy, ugly and tastes freaking amazing.
Every juicy bite explodes with sweet and tangy nanban sauce which gives me a boost in appetite. I normally scrape the batter off my fried edibles, but for this particular dish, I attack the batter bits soaked in sauces—it’s just that good.
Even better, this recipe includes instructions on how you can neatly fry the chicken in the oven rather than using a deep fryer or a pan and dealing with the stove clean up afterwards.
I first tried Chicken Nanban at JaBistro located in downtown Toronto, which was phenomenal. I then did some research and decided to try Otaku Food’s Chicken Nanban with my own cooking method, which you can find below. Although the length of the ingredients list may seem intimidating, I assure you the recipe is actually really easy to follow and prepare.
Chicken Nanban Recipe
YIELD: 4 portions to be served with side of rice or salad
ACTIVE TIME: 30 min
TOTAL TIME (active + inactive time): 1 hr 35 min
CREDITS: Adapted from Kyushu Style Chicken Nanban from Otaku Food
- 1 lb of chicken breasts (or 3 chicken thighs de-boned, or 1 pound chicken wings)
- 1 egg (beaten)
- 3/4 cup flour (for batter)
- salt and pepper for light seasoning
- 1/4-1/2 cup vegetable oil for frying
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup mirin
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise, preferably a Japanese brand (I used Kewpie brand)
- 1 boiled egg
- 1 tbsp chopped onions
- 1 tbsp chopped cucumber
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley (or 1/2 tsp dried parsley)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tspn dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
Nanban Sauce (Can be made a few days ahead)
- Mix the nanban ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside, or refrigerate if using at a later date.
Tartar Sauce (Ingredients can be prepped night before and mixed day of)
- Chop the boiled egg, onion and cucumber into fine cubes (roughly 0.3 cm).
Stir all the tartar sauce ingredients in a small bowl to combine. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use.
- Pre-heat oven to 450°F. Fill an oven safe casserole dish with about 1/4″ frying oil and place into oven to heat for at least 20 minutes.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Coat the chicken with flour, dip in the whisked egg and coat with flour again. Let sit for 15 minutes for the batter to adhere to the chicken.
- Slide the chicken carefully into the hot oil until the dish is about 70% filled. To avoid overcrowding, you may have to fry the chicken in several batches.
Bake each side of the chicken breast for about 13 minutes. (For deboned chicken thighs, 10 minutes each side, for chicken wings, 5 minutes each side). Check to make sure the chicken is cooked and transfer to a paper towel lined plate (to soak up the oil). Continue with the rest of the chicken.
- Cut the chicken breasts into thick slices and soak in the nanban sauce briefly. Remove from the sauce and arrange on a serving dish, pouring 1/8 of the nanban sauce on top followed by the tartar sauce. Serve hot.
- The key to preventing the chicken from absorbing too much frying oil is to start with very hot oil and avoid overcrowding. Overcrowding will bring down the oil temperature which will allow the oil seep into the food. Learn more about this topic from Food52.
- To check for doneness, stab the chicken in a thick area—if clear fluid is released, the chicken is done. If pink fluid is released, bake for 2 more minutes and check again.