Chicken Nanbanzuke – what chefs eat at home

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by: Christopher Massad

Chris started his career in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. After finishing college in Boulder, he helped to open Matsuhisa's Vail. He later moved west and worked at top sushi establishments like Sushi Ran, Pabu and Akiko's in the Bay Area. With a strong ambition to further his culinary education, he enrolled in a culinary program in Kyoto, Japan. His experience includes working for a third generation Michelin starred restaurant in Tokyo. With an extensive background in Japanese washoku and sushi, Chris is the Executive Chef of Kampai restaurant opening in Jackson Hole, Wyoming late summer 2021.

Nanbanzuke (南蛮漬け) is a simple Japanese dish composed of fish or meat that has been deep fried then marinated. The sauce is mainly dashi, sake, soy sauce, vinegar and sugar. As an appetizer, serve or garnish with thinly sliced vegetables, green onion, ginger and a touch of red chili pepper. In this featured recipe, the chef is using chicken thighs. Typically if you were to use fish in the preparation we recommend using an oilier silver skinned fish like mackerel, sardines or bonito. If you have leftover raw tuna that you don’t want to use as sashimi, then nanbanzuke is the way to go. This is a dish that you can serve hot or cold depending on your preference. Easily prepared at home, this is a personal favorite that we know you will love.

Have you ever pondered working in a professional kitchen, transitioning to the food industry or becoming a chef? Gain valuable insight from our interview with Chris Massad on What it takes to become a professional chef.


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PREPARING THE VEGETABLES

top view of vegetables for nanbanzuke

Peel and thinly slice all the vegetables and set aside. The main idea is that all the vegetables are sliced very thin using a sharp knife. The vegetables provide a textural element that work in harmony with the rest of the dish. Don’t forget to wash your vegetables well. Our CrossEat tip is that carrot peelings are great for your pet dog instead of discarding.

*Tasting Notes: You can adjust the vegetables with anything that you have in the fridge.

front view of julienne vegetables for nanbanzuke

Next, cut the chicken thighs into 1″ sized pieces and set aside. We are going to go in order, so have your ingredients ready to prepare the dashi stock.

**Tasting Notes: If you don’t have access to dashi, you can use “hondashi” or chicken stock.

FOR THE DASHI STOCK

top view of a sheet of kombu and dashi flakes in a bowl
Konbu and Dashi Flakes

Soak konbu in cold water for 1 hour at room temperature.

Pour water and konbu into a small pot and heat konbu to 140F for 25 minutes.

Remove konbu and increase heat to 175F.

Add the bonito flakes and bring to a simmer.

Turn off heat and strain through a wire mesh and cheesecloth.

NANBANZUKE SAUCE

top view of misc en place for nanbanzuke sauce

Combine mirin and sake in a medium sized pot and bring to a boil to burn off the alcohol. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Next, add the dashi stock, vinegar, soy sauce and chili peppers. Bring everything together to a boil and turn off heat. It’s pretty simple and you can adjust flavor to suit your preference.

Set aside till ready to use.

FRYING THE CHICKEN

Preheat oil in a deep pan to 365F.

Dredge the chicken thighs in katakuri (片栗粉) or potato starch. Alternatively, you can substitute corn starch. Potato starch is common in Japanese cooking because of the lighter coating with fried foods.

top view of cut chicken thigh in a steel bowl with corn starch

Have a plate ready with a paper towel or a wire rack to drain the oil. Check the oil temperature with a thermometer. Deep frying is best at a consistent 350F. It is best to test one piece first, then you know how long the cooking time is. For chicken this size, usually 6 – 7 minutes is good. Chicken should have an internal temperature of 165F.

Deep fry until fully cooked and golden brown maintain oil temperature at 350-360F.

*Tips: The protein can be switched out–> fish or tofu are great substitutes. We mentioned the use of tuna earlier in the post. You could even skip the frying step if using tuna and just braise in the nanbanzuke sauce. However, frying is still the preferred method as the coating soaks up the sauce.

PLATING CHICKEN NANBANZUKE

Bring the nanbanzuke sauce to a simmer and add the sliced vegetables.

top front view of vegetables simmering in nanbanzuke sauce

Simmer the vegetables over medium heat until tender but still have a bite.

Place fried chicken in bowl, top with cooked vegetables and ladle on the sauce. Finish with a green garnish of your choice. Kaiware (daikon) sprouts were used in this particular dish.

**Tips: Nanbanzuke can be eaten right away, but it is also good if you put the fried item and vegetables in the stock and let it sit for a while to soak up the broth. Good for leftovers!


Yield: 2 SERVINGS

Chicken Nanbanzuke

front view of chicken nanbanzuke in a white bowl with vegetables

Nanbanzuke (南蛮漬け) is a simple Japanese dish composed of fish or meat that has been deep fried and then marinated. The sauce is mainly dashi, sake, soy sauce, vinegar and sugar. As an appetizer it can be served or garnished with thinly sliced vegetables and a touch of red chili pepper. Easily prepared at home, this is a personal favorite that we know you will love.

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 500mL (17 fluid ounces) dashi stock
  • 200mL (7-1/2 fluid ounces) rice wine vinegar
  • 100mL (3-1/2 fluid ounces) mirin
  • 50mL (2 fluid ounces) cooking sake
  • 75mL (2-1/2 fluid ounces) soy sauce
  • 50 grams (4 tablespoons) sugar
  • 2 dried red chilis
  • 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) chicken thighs
  • 1-1/2 cups potato starch for dredging
  • 4 cups vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 carrot, 2" julienne
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1 knob ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • optional garnishes: green onions, mitsuba, kaiware sprouts, cilantro or parsley

Dashi Stock

  • 1 liter (1 quart) water
  • 10 grams (1 large sheet) konbu
  • 25 grams (1 ounce or 2 cups) bonito flakes

Instructions

  1. Peel and thinly slice all the vegetables and set aside.
  2. Cut the chicken thighs into 1" sized pieces and set aside.

FOR THE DASHI STOCK

  1. Soak konbu in cold water for 1 hour at room temperature.
  2. Pour water and konbu into a small pot and heat konbu to 140F for 25 minutes.
  3. Remove konbu and increase heat to 175F.
  4. Add the bonito flakes and bring to a simmer.
  5. Turn off heat and strain through a wire mesh and cheesecloth.

NANBANZUKE SAUCE

  1. Combine mirin and sake in a medium sized pot and bring to a boil to burn off the alcohol.
  2. Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
  3. Add dashi stock, vinegar, soy sauce and dried chilis.
  4. Bring everything together to a boil and turn off heat.
  5. Set aside till ready to use.

FRYING THE CHICKEN

  1. Preheat oil in a deep pan to 365F
  2. Dredge the chicken thighs
  3. Deep fry until fully cooked and golden brown maintain oil temperature at 350-360F

PLATING

  1. Bring the nanbanzuke sauce to a simmer and add the sliced vegetables.
  2. Simmer over medium heat until tender but still have a bite.
  3. Place fried chicken in bowl, top with cooked vegetables and ladle on the sauce and finish with green garnish.

Notes

1. The protein can be switched out--> fish or tofu are great substitutes

2. You can adjust the vegetables with anything that you have in the fridge.

3. If you don't have access to dashi, you can use "hon dashi" or chicken stock.

4. Nanbanzuke can be eaten right away, but it is also good if you put the fried item and vegetables in the stock and let it sit for a while to soak up the broth. Good for leftovers!

Did you make this recipe?

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