Japanese Fried Chicken with Sansho Hot Honey

Fried chicken in Japan is called karaage (ka-ra-ah-geh), and can be found everywhere, from roadside izakaya, to convenience stores, to Friday dinner at home. Quickly marinated, then coated in potato starch that fries up delicate and crisp, karaage is perfect for a quick meal or for parties. My twist is serving it with sansho hot honey along with the traditional squeeze of lemon, balancing the richness of the chicken and amplifying the deep umami of shoyu and saké.

Sansho – Recipe by Christian Leue

Serves 4



2 pounds boneless chicken thighs (skin on or skinless as you prefer)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp saké
1 Tbsp honey
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
Potato starch (can substitute corn starch) to coat
Oil for frying (I like high heat sunflower)

Sansho Hot Honey

1/2 cup honey
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp ground chiles (I like piment d’espelette)
1/4 tsp finely ground sansho


1. Cut the chicken into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Mix the chicken thoroughly with the soy sauce, saké, garlic, honey, and ginger. Allow to marinate for 1 hour. Quick tip: make the marinade more easily by mixing the ingredients in a blender or food processor.

2. Mix the chile flakes, sansho, vinegar, and honey together and set aside.

3. Remove the chicken from the marinade, drip dry in a colander, then dredge in potato starch. Allow to air dry for about 10 minutes on a rack.

4. Heat 2 inches of oil in a deep pan to 350 degrees. Fry 3-5 minutes then rest for 2-3 minutes on a wire rack (the air circulation keeps them crispier than drying on paper towels).

5. For extra crispness they can be fried again for 1 minute after resting. Serve with a slice of lemon and the sansho hot honey.

And if you end up making more than you can eat it’s also great cold from the fridge the next day.

Fun to try

• This simple marinade is a great jumping off point for exploring asian flavors:

Thailand  add 1 Tbsp of Penang N.31 or Siam N.32 and substitute 1 Tbsp Noga N.17 for the honey

Vietnam – add 2 tsp of Reims N.39 and substitute 3 Tbsp fish sauce for the soy sauce

Taiwan – add 2 tsp Sri Lanka N.14 and 1 tsp finely ground Muntok white pepper


Food image and recipe © Christian Leue

Questions? Contact christian@laboiteny.com