Kari Kari (カリカリ)! Get to Know Japan’s Beloved Crispy Chicken Karaage

Golden fried chicken karaage with a side of a leafy salad and a slice of lemon

Karaage, also known as Japanese fried chicken, is a simple yet delicious dish that is loved for its signature soy and ginger flavor and light and crispy texture. Often associated with the words “kari kari” or “crispy”, in Japanese. The history of these golden brown, bite-size portions of crunchy chicken date back hundreds of years, becoming a core part of Japanese cuisine and culture today.

In appreciation of this ultimate Japanese comfort food, we’ll be exploring some of the lesser-known facts about chicken karaage to showcase its influence and popularity around the world.

White plate with crispy fried chicken karaage over a green leaf lettuce with a small white plate with spicesWhere Does Karaage Come From?

There are a few theories on how karaage came to be in Japan. One is that the Japanese started incorporating Chinese-style fried foods into their cuisines in the Edo period, anywhere between 1600-1868.

Another theory credits the Portuguese when 16th Century missionaries arrived in Japan and brought their fried cooking methods with them.

It may come as a surprise to some, but karaage didn’t become popular across the country until after WWII, when eating more meat, and especially chicken, became the norm. Until this time, Japan was mostly pescatarian, favoring seafood or vegetarian foods due to their Buddhist beliefs.
Pan filled with hot bubbling oil and small pieces of chicken and in the foreground a pair of chopsticks holding a piece of fried chicken

Karaage’s Etymology

Karaage was originally called “tsuage” in Japan and was made using small pieces of chicken that were seasoned with salt and pepper before being fried in oil. Over time, the dish evolved and became known as karaage, which is derived from the Japanese character “唐 (kara)” which denotes its Chinese origin and “揚げ (age)”, which means “deep-fried”.

Who Makes the Best Karaage?

Japanese festival stand offering five different types of fried chicken karaage.

Not only is chicken karaage a staple for festivals and events in Japan, but there are also dedicated competitions around this specific dish to determine who has the best karaage recipe in the whole country! Every year, hundreds of thousands of people vote in a country-wide competition called the Karaage Grand Prix where over 1,000 shops compete!

Nakatsu City, a small city located in the Oita prefecture on the southern island of Kyushu, usually wins the most awards, with more than 50 karaage restaurants dedicated to the dish.

The Japan Karaage Association

So highly regarded is karaage in Japan that there is a dedicated Japan Karaage Association that focuses on training and certifying karaage specialists. One of the goals of the Japan Karaage Association is to create a comprehensive map of the best fried karaage establishments, so that anyone can find delicious karaage in Japan.

To become an association member and “Karaagenist,” applicants must pass a written test about karaage knowledge. If you pass the exam, you will receive an official business card issued by the association, deeming you fit to work as a certified karaage specialist.

Make Chicken Karaage at Home with Zojirushi

Plate with golden and crispy fried chicken karaage served with a bowl of white riceAll this talk of juicy fried chicken making you hungry? Make karaage at home in a few easy steps by following our Zojirushi Karaage Recipe. We like to add dark sesame oil and marinate our chicken in a plastic bag to lock in all of the flavors.

For more tips and tricks on how to perfect your karaage recipe, read our Mom’s Home Cooked 唐揚げ (Karaage): Japanese Fried Chicken article.

How do you like to enjoy Japanese karaage? Did you learn anything new about this dish today? Remember to share your thoughts, comments, and questions with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan

Complete Your Kitchen with the VE Hybrid Water Boiler & Warmer CV-JAC40/50

VE Hybrid Water Boiler and Warmer with matching Pressure IH Rice Cooker and Warmer NP-NWC10/18 with a brewed green tea and a delicious bento with chirashi sushi and other japanese side dishes.

Complete your kitchen with Pressure Induction Heating Rice Cooker & Warmer NP-NWC10/18

Have you met our Zojirushi VE Hybrid Water Boiler & Warmer CV-JAC40/50? Whether you’re a tea drinker, coffee lover, or simply need hot water on standby for cooking, this stylish and modern water boiler and warmer is the perfect addition to any home or office. In today’s product guide, we’ll be diving into this water heater’s capabilities and functions, from its unique energy-saving capabilities to its extensive safety features and temperature settings. See for yourself why this water heater is one of our fan favorites!

Standout Technology that Saves Energy and Time
VE Hybrid Water Boiler and Warmer CV-JAC50 and CV-JAC40 side by side showing the height differences between both capacities.

VE Hybrid Water Boiler and Warmer CV-JAC40/50

The Zojirushi VE Hybrid Water Boiler & Warmer uses superior VE (Vacuum-Electric) hybrid technology to keep water hot for hours with minimal electricity. Once the water heater reaches the boiling point of water, which is 212°F, it can maintain one of 4 different keep-warm temperature settings of your choice – 160°F, 175°F, 195°F, and 208°F – all at the press of a button. In a rush? There is an additional Quick Temp mode that brings your water temperature up 160°F, 175°F, or 195°F, without ever having to bring it to a boil!

Additional energy-saving functions include:

  • Vacuum mode: save electricity by relying on Zojirushi’s exceptional vacuum insulation technology. Just like our mugs and bottles, this water boiler comes with vacuum insulation that will keep your water warm and when used with the Vacuum mode, it will lower electricity use!
  • Energy-Saving Timer: don’t need hot water at the ready at night? Conserve energy by setting up a delay timer, from 6-16 hours, ensuring your hot water is ready exactly when you need it.
Isolated inner container from the VE Hybrid Water Boiler and Warmer depicting two layers of stainless steel vacuum with vacuum insulation that is wrapped around the container.

Stainless steel double insulation wall keeps water hot with minimum electricity

Committed to Safe Design

You’ll never have to worry about burning yourself when using this appliance correctly. The water boiler’s namesake VE technology keeps the exterior of the unit cool to the touch, making it safe and easy to handle, while the auto shut-off function also prevents the machine from running when the unit is empty or low in water.

The water boiler comes with an automatic dispense-lock which prevents accidental water dispensing and in-lid and in spout guards provide an extra layer of protection preventing leaks in the event it’s tilted or tipped over. As always, all surfaces that come into contact with food or beverage are 100% BPA-free.

Close view of the digital control panel on the water boiler

Sleek and Intuitive Design

Made in Japan, this appliance is available in two sizes that hold up to 4L or 5L at a time and comes in a stainless steel finish. Not only does this finish offer a sleek and modern look, but is also easy to clean, so you can keep your unit looking like new for years to come.

A key feature of the Zojirushi VE Hybrid Water Boiler & Warmer is its easy-to-read orange LCD control panel, which shows actual water temperatures at all times. The unit also features an easy-to-fill water tank with distinct water level lines, so you can always see the internal water level without having to open the lid and know exactly when it needs to be refilled. This water heater also features a detachable power cord, so you can easily store the appliance away when not in use.

Hand pressing the dispense button on the water boiler

For the coffee lovers out there, this appliance features a Café Drip mode, which pours hot water at a decreased speed, making a perfect pour for brewing pour over drip coffee.Front view of the VE Hybrid Water Boiler with a red circular double ended arrow on the bottom pointing out a swivel movement

This water heater also sits on a swivel base, so you can move the appliance to make serving your boiling water more convenient. See the unit in action in our dedicated product video:

Feeling inspired? For tea and recipe ideas, visit Zojirushi.com.

Do you have a Zojirushi Water Boiler and Heater at home? What’s your favorite beverage or food to make with this appliance? Share your thoughts, comments, and questions with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan

The Day Everything Turns Green

St. Patrick's Day Recipe - Shamrock Pound Cake
It turns out about 54 percent of Americans will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year according to a 2022 survey, which got me thinking—why? Most of us aren’t even Irish. It isn’t a national holiday here, unlike in Ireland where it really means something because Saint Patrick symbolizes the arrival of Christianity. But it’s kind of a fun day to be green and all that, and celebrate with Irish food. They even have St. Patrick’s Day parades in Japan, because they know how to copy and make things distinctly Japanese over there, ha-ha!

I baked a hidden surprise Shamrock Pound Cake that I never knew I could pull off. This thing was like a magician’s trick, where once you know how it’s done, you realize how easy it is to create the illusion. It’s an old trick for bakers, but it wasn’t for me. So if it isn’t for you either, here it is in pictures.
Recipe - Shamrock Pound Cake - Preparation
Make some shamrock cake cutouts. I used ordinary pound cake mix, dropped food dye into the batter and baked it in a loaf pan. Get a clover shaped cookie cutter. Slice the pound cake into even slices the same thickness of your cookie cutter. Then press out your shamrock cake cutouts and set aside.

Now here’s the tricky part. You need to stand up the cake cutouts in another loaf pan like soldiers as best as you can. Layering the bottom of the pan with batter gives you a base that will help keep the shamrocks standing, as well as suspending it off the bottom.
Shamrock Pound Cake - Shamrock cutouts

Cover it all up with the rest of the batter until the shamrocks are completely hidden. Then bake the cake as per normal like the cake mix instructions say. When it’s done, glaze over it with lemon glaze (you can see the cookie cutter I used).
Shamrock Pound Cake - Glazed

Let it cool completely before you attempt to cut it. The trick is to cut the slices along the same widths of each of the shamrock cutouts that you’ve baked into the cake. If you did a good job of standing them up tightly together before covering with the batter, the result should be pretty convincing. If you thought the inside cake would overbake or something, don’t worry—it doesn’t. Pretty cool, huh?
St. Patrick's Day Recipe - Shamrock Pound Cake

Everybody makes corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day. I’m not a great fan, so we made Shepherd’s Pie instead, which I liked a lot better; mainly because I love ground beef. So apparently this Irish classic would normally use ground lamb, but since I’m not a big fan of lamb either—well, you get the picture. Lots of recipes for this simple dish online, but it’s basically exactly like you see here. Mashed potatos and a filling made of ground beef, peas and carrots that was sautéed with beef broth, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce.
Recipe - Shepherd's Pie in Process

I mean, it’s pretty basic—the only thing is that it does require some steps. You have to mash the potatoes, which you can do ahead of time before you make the meat filling. And like any casserole dish you have to bake it.
Recipe - Shepherd's Pie in the Oven

I guess technically if you use beef instead of lamb, this dish would be called a cottage pie by the British or the Irish, where it originated. I don’t think we Americans are that fussy about the name. It’s interesting to note that the name Shepherd’s Pie came from the minced lamb because a shepherd looks after sheep. And the mashed potato topping was meant to represent the sheep’s fleece. Makes good enough sense to me!
St. Patrick's Day Recipe - Shepherd's Pie - Plated

So what do you do with the leftover mashed potatoes that wouldn’t fit in the Shepherd’s Pie? You make Irish potato pancakes of course, which is what the Irish do so they don’t waste food. Also known as Boxty, this classic dish is a cross between hash browns and a pancake. It contains flour and grated raw potatoes, so combined with the mashed potatoes, Boxty has a uniquely smooth texture when pan fried—yet you can taste the grated bits of potato like hash browns.
St. Patrick's Day Recipe - Potato Pancakes
Ireland and potatoes go hand in hand as everyone knows, and a lot had to do with potatoes being the food for the country’s poor back then. Potatoes can grow anywhere so it was the ideal staple food. You can find authentic Irish potato pancakes all over the republic today, including at restaurants that specialize in it and packaged for sale in supermarkets.

We had ours for an Irish style breakfast. Traditionally, we could have had some pork blood sausage too, but we didn’t have any. If you want to see that, check out Zojirushi’s Irish Breakfast here.
St. Patrick's Day Recipe - Full Breakfast
How are you going to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?


Products used in this post: Micom Toaster Oven ET-ZLC30, Gourmet Sizzler® Electric Griddle EA-DCC10

Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2023


Fuwa Fuwa! Fun Facts about Japan’s Famous, Fluffy Omurice (オムライス)

Did you know that fuwa fuwa means “fluffy fluffy” in Japanese? Whenever we hear this word, we automatically think about one of Japan’s most famous (and fluffy!) dishes: omurice. Also known as “Omelet Rice” in English, omurice is a delicious, comforting, and irresistible dish of artfully folded egg served on top of a ketchup fried rice.

But, how exactly did this dish originate? Keep reading for a brief history of one of our favorite dishes and our take on a Zojirushi omurice recipe. We can almost smell the buttery, tangy aromas of egg and ketchup in the air!

First thing’s first, what is omurice?

Eggs and rice, what a perfect pairing! Omurice is a classic Japanese dish that consists of an omelet filled with fried rice and ketchup. The word “omu” in Japanese means “to wrap,” which is why you’ll see it used in many other traditional dishes, and the combination of omu with raisu (rice) gives us the word for this dish: omurice. 

If you want to pronounce it like the Japanese do, “omurice” is a 5-syllable word pronounced as “o-mu-ra-i-su.”

Where does omurice come from?

Omurice is said to have been invented at a Western-inspired restaurant in Tokyo’s Ginza district when Western-style cafes were becoming widespread. It was so popular that it quickly spread all over Asia, and the world!

This type of fusion Japanese cuisine is known as “yōshoku.” Ketchup may be American, but it is actually a very popular Japanese condiment. Ketchup is one of the stars of this dish because it adds a sweet and tangy character to the dish.

The egg on top serves a purpose!

Omelets, cooked rice and ketchup were not the only ingredients in omurice‘s infancy. The dish was born as a way to use up leftovers, which included the day’s left-over egg and meat or fish. In order to make sure that the food didn’t get soggy from sitting out for too long, it was served with an omelet on top of it so that all of its moisture would be absorbed by the egg instead of seeping through it and ruining your meal.

This method worked so well that many Japanese restaurants began serving omurice as a regular menu item—and they still do today!

From comfort food to art.

These days, omurice is available at restaurants and cafes, but it’s also available in convenience stores. And its popularity has spread to other countries as well. In fact, this dish has evolved from a simple egg and rice dish into a culinary art form.

Nowadays there are many varieties of omurice: some people add vegetables or meat or make the sauce thicker with soy sauce or mayonnaise; others make it spicy by adding chili pepper flakes…the options are truly endless.

Make Omurice at Home

At Zojirushi, we like to make a classic version of omurice using leftover ingredients like chicken thigh, mushroom, onion, butter, and Worcestershire sauce. If you want some insider tips and tricks on how to make the perfect omurice, read our “Mom’s Home Cooking: Rice Omelet (Omu-rice)” article.

How do you like to enjoy omurice? Do you have your own special recipe or go-to restaurant that you’d like to share with us? Remember to share your thoughts, comments, and questions with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan

Meet our Newest Coffee Makers: The Dome Brew Classic EC-ESC120 & Programmable EC-EJC120

We’re excited to introduce you to our newest Zojirushi coffee makers, the elegant Dome Brew Classic Coffee Maker EC-EJC120 and the intelligent Dome Brew Programmable Coffee Maker EC-ESC120. True to their names, these models feature a brand new brewing technology, including a unique Shower Dome design, which ensures an even saturation of coffee grounds that result in a truly perfect and flavorful cup of coffee. And, with our newly developed Taste Tuner feature that lets you fine-tune your brew strength to your exact liking, you can explore an infinite combination of both hot and iced coffee flavors unlike ever before!

Are you ready to learn how to make hot or iced coffee in our new Dome Brew Coffee Maker? Take a closer look at this machine’s special features with us and we’ll show you how!

Two Models to Choose From

There are two models of Dome Brew Coffee Makers – the Classic (EC-EJC120) and Programmable (EC-ESC120).

Dome Brew Classic Coffee Maker EC-EJC120

The Dome Brew Classic Coffee Maker is a simple yet intelligent coffee maker that can easily be turned on and off via single-switch operation, and is ideal for those who prefer a simple, no-frills model.

Dome Brew Programmable Coffee Maker EC-ESC120

The Dome Brew Programmable Coffee Maker features a seamless control panel with an easy-to-see and use digital clock and additional settings menu. Additional functions of this model include:

Easy-to-see and use control panel with Iced Coffee course

  • Micro-Computerized Brewing technology which controls bloom time and brew speed of your coffee grounds for optimal flavor extraction. This feature can also brew between 1-4 cups of coffee if desired
  • An ICED COFFEE course which switches off the Keep Warm function to prevent unnecessary heating after brewing
  • Automatic shut off after 2 hours
  • Audible beeps to alert you when your coffee is ready. This feature can also be turned off if desired
  • Cleaning program for descaling

Top Functions

We designed these coffee makers to be as functional and versatile as possibleWant to keep your coffee warm after it’s brewed? Done. Feel like switching it up to iced coffee? No problem.

Taste Tuner and Shower Dome 

  • Taste Tuner feature which allows you to customize brew strength from light and smooth to dynamic and bold
  • Shower Dome design which ensures uniform saturation of grounds
  • 200°F high brewing temperature heats water to the right temperature to brew flavorful coffee
  • Iced coffee maker with water measure lines which adjust the water-to-coffee ratio for a stronger coffee that doesn’t taste watered down when diluted with ice.
  • Warming plate that keeps coffee warmat the ideal temperature
  • Drip-pause feature prevents coffee from dripping when the carafe is removed from the machine allowing you to enjoy a taste before the full pot of coffee is finished brewing
  • 12 cups of hot coffee or 8 cups of iced coffee brewing capacity

Thoughtful and Safe Design:

Lid opens 110 degrees for easy filling and glass carafe with clean pour spout design

This hot and iced coffee maker was designed with your safety and convenience in mind. You can feel good about:

  • Stainless Black color that looks great on any kitchen counter or tabletop
  • Easy-lift filter basket that makes filling and cleaning effortless
  • Large opening allows the lid to open 110 degrees for easy filling
  • Includes a specially designed coffee scoop accessory
  • Glass carafe with an ergonomic, easy-grip handle and knuckle guard for extra protection, and dribble-reducing spout
  • All surfaces that come into contact with food or beverage are BPA-free

What are your thoughts on the Zojirushi Dome Brew Coffee Maker? Do you think it’s the best coffee maker in our lineup? Remember to share your thoughts, comments, and questions with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan