Tag Archives: Japanese

Karaage Chicken Po’ Boy

Following on from my tonkatsu burger post, I’ve decided to take another Japanese staple and combine it with an American classic.  This time, I’ve taken everyone’s favourite Japanese snack –karaage chicken – and added it to the humble New Orleans Po’ Boy.

If you’ve never had the pleasure, karaage chicken is deep fried bite-sized marinated chicken that’s a common izakaya menu item and pretty much tastes like the best KCF popcorn chicken you’ve ever had.  Po’ Boys are sandwiches made famous in New Orleans that typically have either roast meat or fried fish or chicken and served in a French baguette.  Having never been to New Orleans, I’ve never tasted a real Po’ Boy, but from what I’ve heard it’s all about getting the best bread possible.  It’s got to be crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, so make sure you head to the best French bakery in your area to get the proper stuff.

Karaage Chicken Po’ Boy


  • 300 g chicken thigh, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sake
  • 1 small piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • Cornstarch
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying
  • 1 French baguette
  • Lettuce
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • Japanese mayonnaise
  • Japanese mustard

First make the karaage chicken by marinating the chicken pieces in the soy sauce, sake and ginger for at least half an hour.  When done, remove the chicken pieces from the marinade, drain, and coat it in the cornstarch.  Heat up an inch of vegetable oil in a saucepan to medium-high heat (you can test if it’s hot enough by dropping a small bit of marinade and cornstarch in the oil and it should sizzle immediately).  Fry all the chicken pieces until golden brown (you may need to do this in two batches, depending on the size of your pan) and drain on paper towels.  At this point you’ll want to just eat all the chicken pieces then and there.  It’s almost impossible not to eat a few, so I always make extra to accommodate for this.

Now onto the Po’ Boy part.  Slice your bread open and smear on a good dollop of Japanese mayo and Japanese mustard.  If you don’t have Japanese mustard, you can use American mustard or anything else to give it some kick (sriracha sauce is a good alternative).  Fill up the Po’ Boy with your freshly made karaage chicken, sliced shallots and lettuce.  Smack your lips and enjoy.

Serves 2

JAM: Soil and “Pimp” Sessions – Waltz for Goddess

For a dish that combined flavours from Japan and New Orleans, how could not go with some heavy Japanese jazz?  I’ve decided to go with a more modern band this round and choose a track from Soil and “Pimp” Sessions called Waltz for Goddess. I first heard about Soil and “Pimp” through Giles Peterson’s radio show in 2005 and was instantly hooked on their ferocious energy and undeniable cool.

Hailing from Tokyo and known for coining terms like ‘death jazz’ and ‘punk jazz’, these guys are meant to be incredible live so be sure to catch them if they ever tour in your area.  This isn’t elevator jazz, so turn it up and grab some cold ones to go with your Po’ Boys.

Hassel your local record store or buy the album online here.

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Tonkatsu burger

Another Japanese post and another one of my all-time favourite dishes, tonkatsu.  For those who don’t know, tonkatsu is a Japanese dish where a pork fillet is dipped in an egg coating, rolled in panko breadcrumbs and fried until golden and crispy.  It’s hugely popular in Japan and is usually served with rice and shredded cabbage or alongside Japanese curry.  It’s also commonly served with a delicious sweet and salty sauce commonly called tonkatsu sauce, but was always known in my house as ‘bulldog sauce’ due to the picture of a bulldog on the brand that my mum would always buy.  I still call it that too.

This recipe combines my love of tonkastu with my love of American fast food to create the Tonkatsu burger.  It’s dead simple with very few ingredients, but that’s the way I prefer my burgers.  Feel free to experiment and add loads of extras.

Tonkatsu Burger


  •  2 decent sized pork fillets
  • Flour for dusting
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil
  • Cabbage, shredded finely
  • 2 x burger buns
  • Tonkatsu sauce
  • Kewpie mayonnaise (Japanese mayonnaise)

Unlike the Austrian schnitzel, the Japanese tonkasu is usually quite thick (about 1 – 1.5 inches thick), but because we’re not slicing this like a traditional tonkatsu, you might need to beat the pork with a mallet down to about an inch if you have a particularly thick cut. Also try to get your pork piece so it roughly covers the circumference of your burger bun.

Set up three shallow bowls or plates in a line – one with flour and a dash of salt and pepper, one with a beaten egg and another with Panko breadcrumbs.  Take the pork and dust it in the flour, then coat the pork in the egg mixture and finally cover in the breadcrumbs, pressing down to make sure it sticks around the whole pork.  Repeat with the other piece of pork.

Heat a decent amount of vegetable oil in a pan so you get at least a centimetre in your pan.  You can test if it’s hot enough by dropping a spare breadcrumb and it should crisp up in about 10 seconds.  When it’s hot enough, carefully place your breaded pork in the oil and let it shallow fry for about 3 minutes or until the breadcrumbs get all golden and crispy.  Turn your pork over and fry on the other side for a few minutes until it’s golden and cooked through.  Take it out of the pan and let it rest of some paper towels for a few minutes.

Slice open two burger buns and lightly toast or steam them.  Place your cooked pork on the bottom half of your burger and swirl on a generous amount of tonkatsu sauce (seriously – the stuff is delicious and you’ll want more).  Top with a good serving of shredded cabbage and top that with a big dollop of Japanese mayonaise before finishing it with the top of the burger bun.

Serve with some homemade chips and an Ahsahi beer.  For another Japanese flavour, sprinkle the chips with nori (seaweed) flakes as seasoning.

Serves 2.

JAM: Happy End – Haru Yo Koi

Happy End - Happy End (1970)

When I think burgers, I think rock.  When I think Japanese rock, I think of Happy End.  Happy End was a Japanese band that only existed from 1970-1973 but were hugely influential in Japan and still today regularly top the ‘best of’ lists when it comes to Japanese bands.  Even if you know nothing about Japanese music, you’ve probably heard Kaze Wo Astumete, which was featured on the Lost in Translation soundtrack.  They fit somewhere between the sweet spot of folk, psych and bluesy rock and they’re well worth checking out.

While their album Kazemachi Roman is probably their most well known (and for good reason too), I’m going to choose a song from their first self titled album.  Prior to this album, Japanese rock artists usually sang in English because at the time that’s what Japanese rock bands had to do to succeed.  Happy End bucked the trend and sang entirely in Japanese, making a turning point in Japanese music when the album was received very well.  Check out the first song on the album, Haru Yo Koi, below:

Their albums are quite hard to come by but if you dig through the right second hand record stores you can find them (I  found 3 of their albums at Licorice Pie Records in Melbourne last weekend).  Otherwise check out discogs for vinyl/CD copies and impress your friends when they come around for Japanese burgers.

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Sukiyaki is one of my favourite Japanese meals. It’s a dish my mum would occasionally cook for the family on cold nights and something my uncle would cook when I visit my family in Japan, so it’s a meal that I hold close to my heart. Like a Japanese version of Chinese hotpot, Sukiyaki a mix of thinly sliced beef, tofu, vegetables and noodles cooked in a sweet and salty broth. It’s very much a family and friends type of meal and a dish that encourages conversation around the hotpot as people swoop out the ingredients before dipping it in a raw beaten egg and slurping it down. Yum.


Note: I used spinach in this image. Cabbage works better as it doesn't wilt as easily in the heat.

It’s super easy to prepare and you don’t have to worry about lengthy cooking times in the kitchen beforehand because you cook everything on the dining room table as everyone eats. You can do this by buying one of those cheap portable stoves that you’d take when you go camping and it shouldn’t set you back more than $20.


  • 750g of flank steak, sliced paper thin
  • 5 Japanese naga-negi onions (or a couple big bunches of think shallots), cut into 1 inch lengths
  • 2 bunches of enoki mushrooms
  • 2 packets of konnyaku noodles, rinsed
  • 300 g of firm tofu, cut into decent sized cubes ½ Chinese cabbage, rinsed and sliced
  • Oil
  • An egg per person Rice (optional)


  • 1 – ½ cups of dashi broth
  • 3-4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 5 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of mirin
  • 2 tablespoons of sake

Pour all the broth ingredients in a saucepan, bring to boil and set aside.

Find a large plate and arrange the meat, onions, mushrooms, noodles, tofu and cabbage on the plate like a colourful pie chart. You’ll probably need at least two or three depending on the size of your plates, and then take them to the dinner table. Crack an egg into small individual serving bowls for all your guests and lightly whisk. This is about all the prepping you need to do beforehand. Seriously.

On your table, get your portable gas stove going at a medium heat with a nice large cast iron pot – one that’s wide enough to fit the ingredients, but not tall enough to make it difficult to reach the food within. Pour a little oil in and when it’s hot you can start throwing in a small portion of your sliced meat, onions, mushrooms, noodles, tofu and cabbage to sauté. After a minute or so, add a third of the broth and let everything cook for another few minutes. Diners can now tuck in and fish out whatever ingredients they wish! Insist that your guests dip the food into the whisked egg before eating. This adds a delicious flavour and texture and slides easily down your throat.

Essential egg for dipping

Essential egg for dipping

As the meal goes on, add more meat, tofu, noodles, veggies and broth to the pot. Make sure you have a little extra soy, sugar, sake, and dashi on hand as you may need to adjust the flavours as the meal goes on. But trust me, it just gets better and better. If you want, serve with some rice, but you probably won’t need too much to be honest.

Serves 4-6


Sukiyaki also happens to be the name of the first Japanese language record to break into the top 100 in the states in the early 60s. Written by Kyu Sakamoto and originally titled Ue o Muite Arukō, it was renamed Sukiyaki for international releases despite the song having nothing to do with the dish. Lyrically it’s quite a sad song, but it carries such a sweet, happy-go-lucky swing to it, that you can’t help but smile.

Don’t know the original but it sounds familiar? The song has been covered countless times by musicians all over the world, but it re-entered the charts in the early 80s with an English language version from A Taste of Honey:

This song eventually made its way through numerous RnB and hip hop records (including Snoop Dogg, Mary J Blige, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony) thanks to Slick Rick singing a verse in his seminal track La Di Da Di. Listen out for the verse at 2.49:

Buy Kyu Sakamoto’s Sukiyaki here.

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