What makes tebasaki stand out among other fried chicken dishes? The crispiness despite the meagre amount of starch with which the chicken wings were dusted. And, of course, the incomparable flavors which all come from a special sauce in which the chicken wings are tossed after they are fried.
What makes tebasaki so crispy? The chicken wings are fried twice. First, over medium heat; then, over very high heat. Might sound like a lot of work but the result totally justifies all the effort.
So, how to cook tebasaki… Start by seasoning the chicken wings. If you have the time, it is best to marinate the chicken for a few hours in the fridge to allow the seasonings to permeate the deepest portion of the meat.
Start by toasting sesame seeds in an oil-free pan. It’s an optional ingredient but sesame seeds really add so much texture, flavor and fragrance to glazed fried food.
Cook the sauce in a wok large enough to accommodate all the fried chicken wings. You will add the cooked chicken to that sauce so there has to be enough room to allow you to easily toss everything together.
Lightly dust your seasoned chicken wings with starch and deep fry over medium heat. This is the first frying. You want the chicken meat cooked through but this isn’t the stage when the surface turns crisp like crackling.
After the first frying, the chicken wings will look a little pale (left photo above). They need to rest for a while before they go back into the frying pan. The heat is turned up to high to fry the chicken wings a second time. It is after the second frying that the chicken turns golden and super crisp (right photo above).
The twice-fried chicken wings are dumped into the wok with the sauce and everything is tossed together until the chicken soaks up the sauce.
Japanese fried chicken wings (tebasaki)
- 1 kilogram chicken wings
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup sake
- ¼ cup mirin
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon grated garlic
- 2 tablespoons black vinegar
- 2 tablespoons potato starch - (corn starch is okay, but wheat-based flour is not okay)
- cooking oil - for deep frying
- Rinse the chicken wings and wipe dry. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- In an oil-free pan, toast two tablespoons of sesame seeds. Set aside.
- In a wok, heat the sugar, soy sauce, sake, mirin, ginger and garlic. Allow to boil gently over medium heat, uncovered, for a minute. Turn off the heat. Set the sauce aside to cool.
- In another wok or frying pan, pour in enough cooking oil to reach a depth of at least three inches. Set the heat to medium.
- Wipe the chicken wings once more. Add the starch to the chicken and toss to coat each piece with a thin layer of starch.
- Fry the chicken wings in batches just until lightly browned. Transfer to a strainer as they cook, go on to the next batch, and so on.
- Turn the heat to high. Fry the chicken wings again, this time, in smaller batches of four or five.
- Dump the cooked chicken wings into the pan with the sauce. Toss to coat each piece of chicken with sauce.
- Add the toasted sesame seeds. Toss a few more times. Scoop out and serve.