Karaage (唐揚げ, 空揚げ, or から揚げ, [kaɾa aɡe]) is a Japanese cooking technique in which various foods—most often chicken, but also other meat and fish—are deep fried in oil. The process involves lightly coating small pieces of the meat or fish with a combination of flour and potato starch or corn starch, and frying in a light oil. The foods are marinated prior to coating. The process differs from the preparation of tempura, which is not marinated and uses a batter for coating. Karaage is often served alone or with rice and shredded cabbage.
When the main ingredient is coated with starch instead of flour, the dish may be called Tatsuta-age(竜田揚げ).
The first references to a style of frying called karaage (then written as 空揚) were in the Genroku period at the end of the 17th century. Chicken karaage was popularized as a "Chinese-style" restaurant food (using the characters 唐揚) in the 1930s.
When used without a modifier, karaage usually refers to the chicken version of the dish; this has been the most common application of the cooking style since making karaage at home became more popular after World War II. Chicken karaage is commonly available in convenience stores such as Lawson, FamilyMart, and 7-Eleven as a fast food item. It is also readily available in food stands throughout Japan. At the annual Karaage Festival in the city of Oita, over 60 different shops participate to provide unique versions of the dish.
Since karaage has spread throughout Japan, there have been many regional takes on the dish, the most notable ones including: