Chicken Nanban is a regional cuisine from Miyazaki Prefecture in Kyushu Island (most southwesterly of Japan’s four main islands) but now it’s a very common dish served all over Japan.
Nanban means “European countries” in old Japanese language. Portugal, Netherlands, and Spain are the first countries who introduced Western cultures to Japan long time ago, and Nanban Sauce was supposed to be derived from Spanish dish called escabeche.
I usually serve Chicken Nanban with eggplant and bell pepper (eggplant is a must!). If you can find shiso leaves (Perilla) in Japanese or Korean supermarket, I highly recommend enjoying Chicken Nanban with shiso leaves. The combination of the chicken, eggplant, bell pepper, and shiso is excellent! The taste starts with a refreshing flavor of soy vinegar dressing followed by the crunchy fried chicken, and the refined taste of shiso kicks in as a finale. It’s like a perfectly blended flavor symphony - I really hope you will enjoy it as much as I do!
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- 5 chicken thighs
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
- ½ cup potato or corn starch (add more if necessary)
- 1 Chinese long eggplant
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 10 shiso leaves (perilla) (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- Rinse and pat dry chicken and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces. Combine the chicken with the seasonings in a bowl and mix well.
- Cut the bell peppers into 1 ½ inch pieces.
- Slice the eggplant into ½ inch pieces and soak in water for a few minutes to prevent from changing color.
- Combine ingredients for Nanban Sauce in a small bowl.
- In a large skillet, heat ½ inch of oil over medium high heat. Use paper towels to wipe extra water from vegetables to prevent from oil splatter. Prepare potato/corn starch in a small bowl.
- When oil is hot (it’s ready when you dip a chopstick in the oil and see bubbles around the chopstick), dredge the eggplant in potato/corn starch and remove excess.
- Deep fry the eggplant until light golden brown. Transfer it to a wire rack or a paper towel. Work in batches and do not crowd the wok. When the eggplant is done, When the eggplant is done, dredge the bell peppers in potato/corn starch and deep fry, and repeat the same for the chicken.
- Coat the eggplant, the bell pepper, and the chicken with the Nanban Sauce.
- Chiffonade the shiso leaves and garnish on top and serve immediately.
Editor’s Note: Pictures updated in August 2012.