Chicken Nanban (Fried Chicken with Soy Vinegar Dressing)
Inspired by Portuguese food, Chicken Nanban is fusion cuisine at its finest and one of Japan’s most popular ways to enjoy fried chicken. Tender pieces of bite size chicken, eggplant, and peppers are tossed in a tangy dressing for a combination of flavors unlike any other.
Pat chicken dry with paper towels and cut into 1 ½ inch (3.8 cm) pieces. In a bowl, combine the chicken with the chicken seasonings and marinate until you finish preparing other ingredients.
Cut the bell peppers into 1 ½ inch (3.8 cm) pieces.
Slice the eggplant into ½ inch (1.3 cm) pieces and soak in water for a few minutes to prevent them from changing color and to remove astringency.
In a small bowl, combine ingredients for Nanban Sauce and mix well together. Set aside.
In a large skillet, heat ½ inch of oil over medium-high heat. Prepare potato/corn starch in a small bowl. Use paper towels to wipe extra water from vegetables to prevent oil splatter.
When the 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 starch/cornstarch and remove excess starch so the oil doesn't get dirty.
Deep-fry the eggplant until light golden brown. Transfer it to a wire rack or a plate lined with a paper towel. Work in batches and do not crowd the pan. If you put too many pieces, the oil temperature will drop significantly and the ingredients will get soggy. When the eggplant is done, coat the bell peppers with potato starch/cornstarch and deep-fry. Then once bell peppers are done, move onto the chicken.
Once you finish deep-frying, place the fried eggplant, bell pepper, and chicken in the Nanban Sauce and coat them well.
This time, I served the 3 ingredients in a skewer, but feel free to serve on a plate. To garnish, cut the shiso leaves into julienned pieces and place them on top of the Chicken Nanban. Serve immediately.
You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 3 days and in the freezer for a month. Please note that the deep-fried foods get naturally soggy. Therefore, it's best to enjoy them right away.