What's The Difference: Korean Fried Chicken vs Japanese Fried Chicken

No two fried chicken recipes are the same.

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ILLUSTRATOR Roselle Miranda

Fried chicken may be a universal favorite food. It's enjoyed in many ways around the world but there's no arguing that has many versions. 

Two of these fried chicken dishes that you can find in restaurants are Korean and Japanese fried chicken. What's interesting is that both recipes commonly use the double frying technique. What makes their fried chicken different and technically unique from the classic American style of cooking fried chicken is the way it's fried. The chicken is not just fried once, but twice. This achieves two things: it ensures that the chicken is cooked through and that the chicken skin is audibly crispy on the outside. Once cooked, the chicken is tossed in sauces or served as is with sauces and drips on the side. 

Beneath the sauces and apart from the gravies that are served with your favorite fried chicken, the recipes of these two fried chicken meals are small tweaks that make it different from the other. 

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1 Korean fried chicken usually uses bone-in chicken pieces. Japanese fried chicken uses boneless fillets. 

This may be a matter of preference but fried chicken is all about the way it's fried, not necessarily about the kind of chicken used to make it. In this instance, Korean fried chicken is usually made with regular chicken pieces, commonly the wings, cut up into serving pieces. 

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Japanese fried chicken is also known as karaage, and it's actually a technique in tossing food lightly in flour and deep-frying. This doesn't just apply to chicken but also fish and vegetables although it's most popularly associated with chicken. This fried chicken can also use chicken pieces but these are commonly cut up into even smaller than the basic 8 or 10 piece cuts you might expect from a whole chicken. Kaarage can also use boneless fillets instead of chicken pieces. This ensures that the small pieces are cooked quickly and stay crisp. 

2 Japanese fried chicken is marinated in mirin. Korean fried chicken is fried as is. 

If you take a look at Japanese chicken recipes, you'll see that many are marinated or tossed in mirin, a Japanese rice wine. This ingredient is said to help remove or mask the funky smell of chicken. Beyond this, this also helps flavor it slightly and tenderize it, too. 

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Korean fried chicken meanwhile is commonly not marinated. It's simply fried until super crisp, letting the double frying do its job of making sure that the chicken skin is as crispy as it can get. There are some who might marinate or treat the chicken pieces so they achieve maximum crispness before it's fried. 

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3 Japanese fried chicken is tossed in rice or cornstarch. Korean fried chicken uses potato starch. 

The Japanese style of cooking the chicken is lightly floured before fried. This is usually rice flour or cornstarch. For the Korean style, while it's common to find the chicken fried without any coating, some do toss it in a little flour. It's commonly potato starch, a starch that's commonly used in many of the country's recipes. This light toss in these dry mixtures ensures that the chicken emerges from the hot oil as crisp as it can be. This also ensures that any sauce or dip that is served with it will cling to the chicken better as well. 

4 Korean fried chicken is commonly tossed in a glaze. Japanese fried chicken is served as is. 

Finally, after these chickens come out of the double frying treatment, the Koreans love tossing their fried chicken in a glaze. This can be a soy-garlic glaze or it can be a powder of cheese. 

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The Japanese karaage meanwhile is more simple. It's served as is and can be served with a dip on the side or a slice of lemon to squeeze on top before enjoying. 

Do you love Korean fried chicken or the simpler Japanese style of fried chicken? 

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