Japanese air-fried chicken bowl

A colourful, delicious and nutritious meal!

Unlike tempura, which refers to foods coated in batter and deep fried, the process of preparing the Japanese delight known as karaage involves marinating then dredging meat (usually chicken), fish or vegetables in gluten-free potato starch prior to frying. While I have a huge soft spot for all forms of deep-fried chicken, I wanted to try my hand at an air fryer version and can confirm the results are absolutely delicious. Be sure to let the chicken pieces rest in the marinade for at least an hour (preferably longer) and don’t skip the delicious sauce, inspired by traditional Japanese Kewpie brand mayonnaise which has a more complex flavour than most North American mayonnaises. If you’re not a mayo fan, Asian-style sweet chili sauce would be a great substitute. The chicken could also be oven-baked, if you prefer, but will take a bit more time to cook. If this recipe is appealing, you might also enjoy my super-crispy chicken wings.



  • 1/2 lb (226 g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) soy sauce (use tamari for gluten-free version)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) Mirin (sweet low-alcohol rice wine)
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) freshly grated ginger root
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • Few grinds black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (20 g) potato starch
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) vegetable oil

Dipping sauce:

  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.6 g) Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) rice vinegar
  • Pinch sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) chicken or vegetable broth concentrate (paste or bouillon cube)
  • 1/4 cup (57 g) mayonnaise


  • 1/4 cup(13 g)  slivered red onion
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) rice vinegar
  • Pinch each sugar and salt
  • 2/3 cup (120 g) uncooked basmati rice, to be cooked per directions below
  • 1/2 cup (85 g) edamame (baby soybeans) or green peas
  • 1/2 cup (52 g) thinly sliced seedless cucumber


  • Cut the chicken up into bite size pieces, leaving a little bit of the fat if you want a richer flavour.
  • Put the chicken pieces into a non-reactive dish with a lid or a ziplock bag. Stir together the soy sauce, mirin, ginger, garlic and pepper, then drizzle over the chicken and stir to blend well. Refrigerate for 2 – 24 hours, stirring occasionally to ensure the chicken is evenly marinated.
  • While chicken is marinating, prepare the dipping sauce by whisking together in a small bowl the Dijon, rice vinegar, sugar and chicken or vegetable stock concentrate. Add mayonnaise and whisk again until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.
  • Before you start cooking the chicken, remove it from the marinade one piece at a time, placing on a paper towel-lined plate. When all chicken is on the plate, discard remaining marinade and place another paper towel on top and press gently to remove excess moisture.
  • Transfer the chicken to a clean bag and sprinkle with the potato starch. Twist or seal the bag closed and shake to evenly coat the chicken. Transfer the coated chicken to a parchment-lined tray, taking care to separate the pieces and ensure they are evenly coated with the potato starch. Refrigerate until ready to cook (up to 20 minutes).
  • Pickle the slivered red onion by placing it in a small bowl. Sprinkle with a few pinches of sugar and salt then cover with the rice vinegar. Let sit until ready to assemble the bowl (the onion can be pickled up to 48 hours in advance and stored, covered, in the refrigerator until needed.
  • Rinse and drain the basmati rice then add 1 1/3 cups of water to it, in a medium sized pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat then reduce heat to minimum. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until all rice is absorbed, then remove from heat and let sit, covered.
  • Preheat air fryer to 390F. While it is heating, spray or brush the chicken with vegetable oil, flipping pieces to lightly coat both sides. Transfer chicken by picking up edges of parchment paper and sliding chicken off into air fryer basket. Set air fryer timer for 10 minutes and shake basket at the 5 minute mark.
  • While chicken cooks, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the shelled edamame and boil for 3 minutes. Drain and transfer to a clean bowl.
  • Also while chicken cooks, slice cucumber and green onions and set aside.
  • Check chicken at the 10 minute mark; it is done when it is golden brown and internal temperature of the thickest piece is 165F. Cook for an additional minute or two if needed.
  • To assemble the dish, divide the hot, cooked rice among two broad bowls. Top with drained pickled onion, edamame and cucumber. Place chicken pieces on top. Serve hot, with sauce on the side.

Makes 2 bowls. Recipe can easily be doubled.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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