As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemakers program, I received a free box of Kikkoman Kara-Áge Soy-Ginger Seasoned Coating Mix. I have never heard of Kara-Áge [KAH-rah AH-geh] before, but reading the box and the letter from foodbuzz informed me that it is Japanese-style fried chicken, or fish. "One of the most popular cooking techniques in Japan...Kikkoman has made age-old traditions modern, by simplifying the recipe for today's family."
For the Kara-Áge, my husband thawed and cut up tilapia in 1-1/2" square pieces. The coating mix is very fragrant, right out of the box. It smells delicious. The method couldn't be easier: add mix to a bag, toss fish pieces, then fry in 1/4" oil for 2 to 4 minutes.
The box recommends serving the chicken or fish with Kikkoman Ponzu or Lime Ponzu. Of course I didn't have any Ponzu, and didn't have a clue what Ponzu is, or how to make it, but thank you very much google! I found a recipe in The New York Times. Then reading the Ponzu recipe, I didn't know what dried bonita flakes are...google told me they are dried fish, which of course I didn't have, so I added a splash of fish sauce. That may be completely wrong, but I don't know any better! I used the sake and sugar in place of the mirin, and tossed in a piece of toasted seaweed instead of kelp.
Kara-Áge fish...but the aromatic mix doesn't contribute much flavor to the final product. It tastes like fried fish, which is fine, because that is indeed what it is. It is better dipped in the Ponzu sauce, but overall just not something to get excited about. The Ponzu sauce is fairly tasty, and it will be interesting to see how it is with other dishes.
Personally, the fish made my lips and mouth go a bit numb, so there must be some ingredient to which I was having a reaction. At first I really thought it was the sake in the sauce, but after the numb sensation had worn off, I ate several pieces of fish with no sauce, and surprisingly my mouth went numb again, definitely from the fish itself. I have no idea what that's about, and it's unfortunate, I'm just glad it wore off quickly!
Ponzu SauceSource: The New York Times
Yield 2 1/2 cups
Time 15 minutes, plus 2 hours
Homemade ponzu will keep for several days with no loss in quality.
- 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice, more to taste
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice, more to taste
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1 cup good-quality soy sauce
- 1/4 cup mirin (or 1/4 cup sake and 1 tablespoon sugar)
- 1 3-inch piece kelp (konbu)
- 1/2 cup (about 1/4 ounce) dried bonito flakes
- Pinch cayenne
- In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Let sit for at least 2 hours or overnight. Strain. Just before using, you might add a small squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice. Covered and refrigerated, ponzu will keep for at least several days.