Eat for Eight Bucks: Japanese Fried Chicken and Two Simple Salads Recipe

Eat for Eight Bucks

Dinner recipes that will keep your stomach and wallet happy from Cara and Phoebe of Big Girls, Small Kitchen

Eat for Eight Bucks: Japanese Fried Chicken and Two Simple Salads Recipe

Shopping List

4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 pound) - $3.29 1/2 pound green beans - $0.49
1 large cucumber - $0.55 1 lemon - $0.50 Small knob ginger - $0.25 24 ounces vegetable oil - $2.49

Pantry items: Dark (Asian) sesame oil, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, corn starch, white sugar

Total cost: $7.77

I love fried chicken in all its forms but tori no kara-age, Japan's barely-breaded answer to popcorn chicken, holds a special place in my heart.

Each bite-sized nugget offers a higher crunch-to-flesh ratio than a breast or a drumstick—and I'm all about that crunch. Not that there's anything wrong with the flesh: tender, dark-meat chicken infused with soy, ginger, and, if you have it, a splash of bourbon.

The bantamweight morsels are a boon, too, to the novice deep-fryer. Golden-brown in four minutes, they're almost impossible to over- or under-cook.

For contrast, serve with either or both of these refreshing salads: cucumber sunomono—bright, vinegared cucumber slices enriched with just a touch of sesame oil—and cool, crisp green beans tossed in a sharp mustard sauce.

Perfect for a midsummer night's grazing.


Japanese Fried Chicken

Don't buy a bottle of bourbon just for this recipe, but a spoonful of whiskey in the marinade adds a lovely, warm depth. Dry sherry or sake work well, too.


  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1-inch length ginger root, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon whisky, dry sherry, or sake (optional)
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dark (Asian) sesame oil
  • Sesame seeds, to garnish (optional)
  • 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and chopped in half
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


  1. 1.

    Place the chicken pieces in a medium bowl with soy sauce, ginger, and (optional) whiskey. Mix to coat chicken. Marinate, refrigerated, for 30 minutes.

  2. 2.

    Place corn starch in wide, shallow dish. Take each piece of chicken from the marinade and roll in the corn starch until completely coated. Tap chicken to remove excess corn starch, and set aside in a clean bowl.

  3. 3.

    Fill a deep cast-iron skillet, Dutch oven, or deep-fat fryer with enough vegetable oil to come at least 1 1/2 inches up the sides. Over medium-high heat, bring the oil to 350°F (hot but not smoking).

  4. 4.

    Working in batches of 10-12 pieces, gently slip chicken pieces into the oil. Fry until the chicken is a rich golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove chicken from oil with a slotted spoon, and place on paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining chicken.

  5. 5.

    (recipes follow).

  6. 6.


  7. 7.

    Cucumber Sunomono

  8. 8.

    Su is Japanese for vinegar, and sunomono refers to a vinegar-dressed appetizer or side dish.

  9. 9.

    I like to use a vegetable peeler to remove thin strips from the cucumber peel before slicing. You can skip this step, but I think the dish looks prettier this way.

  10. 10.

    Cut the cucumber in half lengthways. Scrape out seeds with a spoon and discard. Slice finely.

  11. 11.

    Place cucumber slices in a sieve set over a larger bowl. Sprinkle cucumber with the salt, toss to coat, and leave to drain for 10 minutes. Rinse and drain well.

  12. 12.

    Place vinegar, white sugar, and sesame oil in a medium bowl. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add cucumber slices and mix well. Sprinkle, if desired, with sesame seeds and serve immediately.

  13. 13.

    Green Bean Salad with Mustard Dressing

  14. 14.

    Bring a large pot of well-salted water to the boil. Boil green beans until tender crisp, 4-5 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge beans into a bowl of ice water.

  15. 15.

    While beans are cooling, stir mustard and vinegar in a medium bowl to form a paste. Gradually whisk in vegetable oil until mixture is emulsified.

  16. 16.

    Drain the beans well and place in bowl with the dressing. Toss to coat and serve immediately.