Karaage is a dish that deep fries ingredients such as chicken, simply covered with flour, starch, or prepared mix before frying. The batter used is different from that of tempura. In Japan, karaage is a popular side dish, and is often put in lunch box or eaten for lunch. Karaage is also a popular snack that goes with alcohol.
By frying the ingredients, the surface becomes crispy and the inside becomes juicy. The technique of frying was first practiced in the Kamakura period (1185-1333) after Buddhist vegetable cuisine was introduced. Indeed, fried dishes became common in the Edo period (1603-1867).
The word karaage first appeared in a cooking book from the Edo period, which was fried small pieces of tofu, simmered with soy sauce and sake. The cooking book from the early Showa period (1926-1989) written about karrage using mackerel. These old karaage are different form the one that people nowadays know.
The recent Karaage which mostly uses chicken was first served at a restaurant in 1932, and since then it became a popular Japanese dish. The reason why karaage is so popular is because there are not much difference in the taste even different person make them. Karaage can be easily made at home using prepared mix which is already seasoned.
There are not only karaage which use chicken but also karaage using vegetables such as burdock, or seafood such as squid or shrimp. When chicken wings are used, it is called tebasaki-karaage, “tebasaki” meaning wing tip, and is a popular snack at Japanese taverns called izakaya. Tebasaki-karaage originally comes from Nagoya city, Aichi prefecture.