The best vegan karaage! This Japanese fried chicken is perfectly crispy on the outside while still juicy and flavourful on the inside– just like the real thing.

If you’ve ever had fried chicken before, you know that theres texture in the actual meat portion. Tender in some and a little ‘firmer’ on the edges. To mimic the same effect, I’m using a combination of tofu AND TVP. When battering, it’ll stick the two together and makes for a texturized fried chicken!

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The Best Vegan Karaage Chicken


Description

The best vegan karaage! This Japanese fried chicken is perfectly crispy on the outside while still juicy and flavourful on the inside– just like the real thing.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 lbs cotton / traditional tofu (450g)*
  • 1 oz soy chunks (30g)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (1 tsp // 4g)
  • slice of minced ginger (2 tsp // 6g)
  • 23 tbsp soy sauce, to taste (30-45ml)
  • 23 tbsp sake, to taste (30-45ml)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar (23g)
  • 68 tbsp potato starch (60-80g)

Instructions

Tofu Preparation

  1. Day 1: Drain the tofu and then dry with a kitchen cloth. Gently press to remove any excess water. Cover and store in the freezer. 
  2. Day 2: Remove the tofu from the freezer and place into the fridge to let it thaw completely. Then press the tofu, removing as much liquid as you can without breaking it apart. Place into container and freeze again.
  3. Day 3: Remove the tofu from the freezer. Cover with a damp paper towel and microwave for 3 minutes. Flip and microwave for another 1-2 minutes or until thawed. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze out any excess liquid. Now it’s ready to be used!

For the karaage:

  1. Add garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sake and sugar together. This is the marinade.
  2. Tear off chunks of tofu and place into the marinade. Add soy curls and toss with the marinade. Let it marinate for 10 minutes. a
  3. Add potato starch to the container and then shake it up. Let it sit for a few minutes– the potato starch should start firming up while sticking the soy chunks to the pieces of tofu. Before frying, add another thin coat of potato starch.
  4. Over medium heat, fry the karaage or until crispy golden brown (2-3 minutes). Place on a wire rack to allow excess oil to drip off. Fry in small batches until complete.
  5. Serve with vegan Japanese mayonnaise and lemon juice, and enjoy!

Notes

  • *Cotton / traditional tofu has the texture between soft fresh tofu and medium firm tofu. This kind of tofu yields the best meat-y texture while still keeping it juicy– however, if you can not find traditional tofu soft fresh or medium firm (or really, any firmness of tofu) can be used. 
  • Leftovers can be stores in the fridge for up to 3 days. 
Konnichiwa

About Lisa

I'm Lisa, a home cook, recipe developer and founder of Okonomi Kitchen. Here, you'll find a mix of classic and modernized Japanese recipes, and creative, plant-forward meal inspiration using seasonal ingredients. I hope to share more about Japanese cuisine and culture through food and recipes.


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43 Comments

  1. This was AMAZING! So crunchy on the outside but tender and chewy on the inside. It definitely had a meat-like texture but the taste was phenomenal and the marinade really came out in each bite. Oishi!

  2. One of my favourite tofu recipes! So easy and full of flavour. I air-fried mine and it came out great 🙂

  3. Wow! My daughter who doesn’t like tofu went for seconds and thirds. This is a great recipe- and although it requires some prep work, it’s just mostly waiting for it to freeze and thaw. This is a keeper!

  4. I used this marinade to make soy meat karaage and it tasted so delicious! My non-vegan family also loved it, I’ll definitely make it again with this recipe! Thank you!! 🧡

  5. I love your recipes but I am allergic to Soy/Tofu. I have a challenge for you. Can you make this fried chicken without Soy/Tofu?

  6. Absolutely delicious recipe!

    For starters, I am the kind of person who is DELIGHTED to eat tofu straight from the box. However, I always love to try to fun and exciting new ways to dress up tofu… they just, usually don’t live up to the expectation… but this one DOES!

    The first time I made this recipe, I neglected to drain my tofu inbetween each move to and from the freezer. While still delicious, I recommend you be diligent and do drain it each and every time you move it! It really does make such a huge difference!

    I’ve never had “true” chicken kaarage, but this is so dang delicious! Plus, no crazy expensive ingredients!

  7. I was surprised that the marinade tasted so much afterwards, but it really did and it was super tasty! Great texture too ♡

  8. The BEST vg karrage recipe! I even tried this without frozen n thawed tofu and it was still insanely delicious!! Tastes amazing with Lisa’s vegan kewpie mayonnaise recipe too 😋

  9. Wonderful! A great and easy recipe that provides plenty of protein for a balanced meal. I did not have potato starch, so I used harina de maíz instead. It was not as dark as the picture, but still delicious. Nice to have a new vegan protein source I can add to my diet!