Nanban Chicken

Chicken Nanban is a type of yoshoku (Japanese-style Western food) made out of lightly seasoned fried chicken doused in a sweet, sour, salty and spicy sauce called Nanban sauce. It is then served with a generous amount of tartare sauce made out of mayonnaise, eggs and cucumber. The word Nanban uses the kanji characters for ‘South’ and ‘Barbarians’. These words have different meanings depending on its usage, when it’s taken together they mean Southern barbarians but if combined with a noun it means Western hence making this dish the “Western Chicken” or what we commonly known as Fried Chicken but it is all done in a Japanese fashion. Having said that most of its components are of Western influence just combined together to combine this unique taste. From the fried chicken, the tartare sauce and the nanban sauce which is believed to be derived from Spanish dish called escabeche hence the sweet, sour, salty and spicy notes.

This dish originated at a popular restaurant in Miyazaki prefecture in Kyuushuu region during the 1950s. It became really popular in the Kyuushuu region for decades and stayed that way until recently is started to gain popularity in outer regions where it started showing in family restaurant (famiresu) menus as well as bento shops.

A very unique take to the classic fried chicken, the crispy outer layer drenched in a sweet, sour, salty and spicy sauce maintains the balance of flavours while the creamy tartare sauce leaves you that silky smooth texture in your mouth. It’s an explosion of different flavours in a simple fried chicken dish.

Ingredients (Fried Chicken)

600g chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite sized pieces
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients (Nanban Sauce)

1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup mirin
1/4 cup soy sauce (Kikkoman or Yamasa)
4 tbsp sugar
4 inch dried konbu seaweed
1/2 tsp cayenne

Ingredients (Tartare sauce)

2 pcs boiled eggs, diced
1/2 telegraph cucumber, diced
1 tbsp chopped white onion
6 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper

Method (Fried Chicken)

1. In a bowl mix together eggs, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add chicken and mix well.
2. In a large container with cover combine flour and cornstarch, add chicken pieces one at a time then cover the container. Shake to coat chicken evenly.
3. Prepare a large wok; add oil then deep fry chicken pieces until golden brown.

Method (Nanban Sauce)

1. Place all ingredients in a sauce pan then bring to a boil, simmer for a minute then turn heat off.
2. Quickly dip fried chicken pieces to let it absorb the sauce. Place in a serving plate.
Combine all the ingredients in a small pan,

Method (Tartare sauce)

1. In a mixing bowl mix together onions, mayonnaise, ketchup, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
2. Add the cucumber and eggs and mix it gently.
3. Top fried chicken with tartare sauce.


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13 thoughts on “Nanban Chicken

  1. This is a very unique chicken dish. I bet my Mr. N would like this one too. I think I would except for the tartar sauce. The sweet and sour part sounds tasty though.

  2. WOW! Does this look good! The fried chicken and the tartar sauce was enough for me but the Nanban sauce takes it over the top! Beautiful dish! Voted and voted!! Congratulations and good lucky! (BTW – there’s no link to polldadday so I wasn’t sure where to go.

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