This word is very hard to spell in alphabets! Ka Ra A Ghe – you pronounce all the vowels individually, just like in Italian if that makes sense. The last one, Ghe, is pronounced as in spaGHEtti. Basically, it is bite-sized deep fried chicken, usually made with boneless chicken thigh (shown above in brown – cut into smaller pieces for bento for easier packing and eating).
My family usually never ask me what dish to cook (unless I ask). They are very easy, and happily eat whatever I put on the table without any complaints. But yesterday at the grocery store, my daughter asked me, out of the blue, that she wants to eat Ka-Ra-A-Ghe. Ok then, so be it.
Marinate bite-sized chicken thigh in the marinade (proportion I use is 1 soy sauce, 1 mirin, 1 Japanese sake, with 1/3 ground garlic, 1/3 ground ginger & some edges of spring onion for flavour). I only left them for half an hour or so, but maybe even better if you leave it longer, 2-3 hours.
Right before you deep fry them, take the chicken out of the marinade, toss them into Katakuriko 片栗粉 (potato starch).
Deep fry them in regular canola oil until golden brown.
This is my original Chicken Balsamico. It’s been highly approved by the family.
500g chicken thigh (cut into bite size, put salt & pepper in advance), 2 celery storks (sliced), 1 clove of garlic (chopped), 15 – 20 cherry tomatoes (halved), 1 – 2 bay leaves, 1 table spoon of olive oil, dash of white wine, 2 table spoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 table spoon of honey, 100ml water, salt & pepper to taste, and a dash of soy sauce for extra flavoring
In the medium sized pan, on medium heat, fry the celery & garlic with olive oil until golden, then add chicken, fry further until golden, and pour in white wine.
Add cherry tomatoes, water and balsamic vinegar & honey, as well as bay leaves, stir, and put the lid on, lower the heat and cook for 10 – 15 minutes or so.
Sprinkle salt & pepper & soy sauce to taste.
That’s it, easy & quick! You can either cook celery leaves together, or sprinkle it over the stew once it’s done.
- “Shirasu” baby sardines
- Kelp (konbu seaweed)
- Tofu (mixed in omelet)
- Ao-nori (seaweed) powder (mixed in omelet)
- Chicken filet
- “Katsuo-bushi” bonito flakes (mixed with cucumber slices)
Monday morning after a busy, eventful weekend.
There’s nothing else more useful than the frozen “torisoboro“, the chicken crumble, to prepare a quick bento for your little one.
For recipe, click here.
Last night for dinner, I cooked beef steak with pan-fried potatoes, carrot & chicken filet soup, stir-fried komatsuna & corns, and boiled broccoli.
The leftover ingredients have been transformed into the bento for my daughter today.
- Rice mixed with boiled chicken filet (from the soup) & green furikake sprinkle (with goma-konbu on the side)
- Potato salad (from the pan-fried potatoes) with boiled carrot (from the soup)
- Corn omelet
- Boiled broccoli
- Stir-fried komatsuna
Although I was quite happy with the makeover, my daughter claimed yet again that the chicken (well she thought it was fish) was too dry.
Just so my 5-year-old daughter eats more green, I sometimes put chopped spinach or komatsuna greens in omelet. She usually eats it all, but I was a bit unsure about this time since I might have added too much komatsuna.
When she came home, as expected, there was a few strings of komatsuna left. I just wanted to tease her a bit and asked her why she didn’t finish it all. She frowned at my interrogation, and whether trying to avoid getting into trouble or not, she said, “I don’t like this omelet with spicy green, but I always eat it because you made it with love”.
She left me there speechless.
Is it only me, or maybe anyone who grew up in the same/similar culture as mine, who feel a slight sense of guilt for cooking something too quick and easy? As a good cook in the Japanese society, you are supposed to (or trained to) devote a great deal of time in the kitchen, to make elaborate dishes. In fact, when we visit my parents’ place, my mum hardly ever sits down with us. She spends most of her time cooking in her kitchen, focusing on serving freshly made dishes one after the other, right from the stove. And she does it with great pleasure. She is very proud of it.
I know this is quite the reverse of the modern thinking, and I’m not saying at all that this is how things should be. I hate it, to be forced into the framework of becoming a stereotypical ideal woman, and try hard to push the pressure away always. But on the other hand, this sense of guilt always comes with it. No matter how much I am exposed to the feminism movement, I just cannot change the way I instinctively feel. It is ingrained in my bones, having grown up in the society with high expectations for girls to become a good mum/wife/woman. The society expects it, and your fellow female peers expect it to a certain extent, still in the 21st century.
Well, it takes about three minutes to make this yakitori-don if you already have your rice ready. I bought pre-cut chicken thigh (guilt), don’t even have to marinate it (another guilt), stir-fry it and quickly season at the end. Voila, it’s done (within three minutes). I just boiled egg rather than make omelet (guilt), packed it with unseasoned vegetables (guilt). On top of this, I packed frozen apple mousse and mashed sweet potato from the freezer for dessert (see, I am now officially guilty).
Recipe for the three minute Yakitori donburi:
Ingredients (for 2 servings):
- Diced chicken thigh (100g)
- 1 table spoon of Japanese sake (or white wine)
- 3/4 table spoon of soy sauce
- 1 table spoon of mirin (if you don’t have mirin, just a sprinkle of sugar instead, with a bit more sake)
- In a medium sized frying pan on medium heat, quickly stir-fry the chicken thigh. No oil needed
- Once the chicken becomes golden, add the sake until it starts evaporating
- Add the soy sauce & mirin and cook it until the sauce thickens – this takes about a minute or so, depending on the heat
- Serve it on top of freshly cooked rice with sliced nori seaweed