Besides sushi, another delicious menu item at Japanese restaurants is Chicken Tempura. These chicken tenders are light and crispy on the outside, with a juicy, meaty center. Enjoy them as an appetizer with your favorite dipping sauce, or use them to create fun and tasty bento boxes for lunch!
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Wondering how you can make authentic, Japanese-style crispy chicken at home? The secret is a simple batter that you’ll be using to coat the chicken before deep frying. Follow the easy recipe for perfect tempura chicken every single time.
What is Tempura Chicken?
Tempura is a Japanese method of frying where food is coated in a special batter and deep-fried until golden brown. For Chicken Tempura, skinless, boneless chicken breast is most often used. Also known as Toriten, these light and crispy fried chicken strips are popular street food in Southern Japan.
What Does Chicken Tempura Taste Like?
Chicken Tempura is delicious! The chicken is full of flavor, thanks to a blend of ginger, garlic, soy sauce, salt and pepper. The chicken is dipped in batter and deep fried until the exterior is crispy, with juicy, tender chicken inside. Chicken tempura has a lighter texture than regular fried chicken with a slight umami flavor.
Ingredients You’ll Need
For the Chicken
- Boneless chicken breast
- Black Pepper
- Soy Sauce
For the Tempura Batter
- Beaten egg
- Cake flour
- Baking soda
What’s Special about Tempura Batter?
Chicken Tempura is known for its light, airy, crispy texture. This is all thanks to the batter used for coating the chicken prior to frying. Tempura batter helps to create the puffy, light-as-air texture that we all know and love. Compare this to French fried chicken where a dredge is used to create a heavier, more dense coating.
How to Make Chicken Tempura
1. Pound the chicken so it’s flatter before cutting into thin strips so they can cook more evenly.
2. Add chicken strips to a large bowl. Then season with salt, pepper, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic.
3. Mix the chicken and spices well and set aside.
4. In a large bowl, sift cake flour, baking soda, and cornstarch.
5. Add the beaten egg.
6. Gradually add water and mix until everything is combined. (Make sure not to over mix the batter.)
7. Add the seasoned chicken strips to the batter and coat well.
8. Add a few pieces of the battered chicken at a time into cooking oil that is heated to 350°F. Fry for about 4 minutes total until crispy and golden brown (flipping half way through). Remove with a slotted spoon and place the chicken onto a plate lined with paper towel. Serve hot with ketchup or a sauce of your choice.
Pro Tips for the Best Tempura Chicken
- Pound the chicken before cooking. Use a tenderizer to pound the chicken breast fillet. This makes it even, thin and flat for better frying.
- Sift the cake flour and cornstarch before mixing. To achieve that light, airy tempura texture, you’ll want to sift your dry ingredients before preparing the batter. This simple process helps with aeration.
- Don’t overmix the batter. Tempura batter needs to be light and airy. Overmixing can lead to a heavy, dense batter.
- Keep the oil temperature at around 350°F. This is the ideal temperature for deep frying chicken. Maintaining a steady temperature will yield better results.
Secrets to a Crunchy and Crispy Coating
How can you achieve the best crunchy, crispy tempura coating? Be sure to sift your flour and cornstarch before adding in water. This helps to aerate the batter, which leads to a lighter, crispier texture. You can also try using cold water to make your batter.
How Long Do You Cook Chicken Tempura?
Because of how thin they are, these chicken strips cook fairly quickly. In about four minutes, each batch of chicken tempura strips should be golden brown, crispy and ready to be taken out of the oil.
How to Serve with Chicken Tempura?
Chicken tempura is a delicious and versatile dish. As a snack, it can be enjoyed on its own with your favorite dipping sauce or a traditional Japanese ponzu sauce. These crisp strips can be used to make chicken tempura sushi rolls or can be added to bento boxes for a fun and interesting lunch or dinner.
What’s the Best Sauce for Tempura?
A great way to enjoy chicken tempura is by serving it with dipping sauces. Your favorite sauces like barbecue, sweet and sour, and honey mustard are all delicious options. In Japan, chicken tempura strips are often served with ponzu sauce, which is a tangy combination of soy sauce and citrus juice.
What’s the Difference Between Chicken Tempura and Chicken Katsu
Tempura and Katsu are both Japanese methods of deep-frying, but there are notable differences between them. Chicken Katsu is made by coating chicken strips in flour, dipping in an egg wash, then finally coating with panko breadcrumbs. The result is super crunchy, thanks to the panko breadcrumbs. Tempura has a lighter, more airy texture and mouthfeel than katsu.
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Chicken Tempura Recipe
Chicken and Seasoning
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon finely minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
- 1 egg beaten
- 1/2 cup cake flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- vegetable oil for frying
- Pound the chicken breast: Use a meat tenderizer to pound the chicken so that its thinner and flatter. This allows the chicken to cook more evenly.
- Cut the chicken into thin strips.
- Season the chicken: Add chicken strips to a large bowl. Then season with salt, pepper, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. Mix well.
- Make the tempura batter: In a large bowl, sift cake flour, baking soda and cornstarch. Then add the beaten egg. Gradually add water and mix until everything is combined. (Make sure not to over-mix the batter.)
- Coat the chicken: Add the seasoned chicken strips to the batter and coat well.
- Heat the oil: Heat the oil to 350°F in a deep fryer or Dutch oven.
- Fry the chicken: Add a few pieces of the battered chicken at a time. Fry for about 4 minutes total until crispy and golden brown (flipping half way through). Remove with a slotted spoon and place the chicken onto a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat with the rest of the chicken strips. Serve and enjoy!