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.
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PREPARING THE VEGETABLES
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.
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.
FOR THE DASHI STOCK
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.
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.
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.
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!