Oven-Fried Japanese Chicken "Wings"

  I have been on a Japanese cooking kick lately. My latest obsession started when I was watching Masterchef Australia, my all-time-favourite cooking show, and the contestants spent an entire week cooking in Japan. They got to explore outdoor markets, try local fare, and cook in some amazing locations. The show made me realize that Japanese cuisine is a major blind spot in my home-chef repertoire, so I decided to get to work to change that immediately.

  What I've learned from reading Japanese cookbooks is that most dishes involve layering flavours to produce beautiful results. The recipe below is a great example of perfectly layered and balanced flavours. You start with heat from the sriracha, add umami with miso, aromatics with sake and garlic, sweetness from honey, and acid from mirin. Ta-da!  Layers of Japanese flavours.

  Don't be scared off by some of the foreign ingredients. I found mirin (a slightly sweet, tangy rice wine that looks like slightly yellow vinegar) at my local grocery store in the Asian foods section, and bought a cheap bottle of sake for $7. The ingredients get mixed in a bowl and...that's it. You just made an amazing sauce. 

  I made this dish as part of a Japanese-themed dinner (more recipes to come!). My dinner companions and I ate this in complete silence, punctuated only with the occasional enthusiastic "mmmmm" or "oh my god".

This chicken is the BEST thing I've ever made.

In my entire life.

(Maybe with the exception of Smitten Kitchen's two-day marathon of a lasagna, but that's on a different level.)

Serve this with rice, and salad with my ginger carrot dressing. And prepare yourself for compliments.

Oven-Fried Japanese Chicken "Wings"

Ingredients

2 - 4 tbsp oil with a high smoke point, such as canola or grapeseed

4 - 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, or 6 - 10 chicken thighs

1/4 cup corn starch

1 tbsp sriracha, or other Asian hot sauce

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced or crushed

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp red miso paste

2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

1/4 cup sake

1/4 cup mirin

1 - 2 tbsp sesame seeds

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil, and pour enough oil over it to coat in a thin layer. I like to cook chicken this way because it "oven fries" it and gives it lots of flavour while saving on the extra fat. Set the baking sheet aside.

With a sharp knife, slice chicken into chunks approximately the size of chicken wings, and place chicken in a large bowl.

Sprinkle chicken with corn starch, and toss until coated evenly.

Lay chicken on your prepared baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 6 minutes, then flip the chicken over and bake for 7-10 minutes more, or until chicken is cooked through and reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.

While chicken is baking, combine remaining ingredients except the sesame seeds in a bowl (or just do it in the measuring cup) to make your sauce.

When chicken is cooked, immediately remove from pan and let drain on paper towels. Then place in a large bowl, pour the sauce over it, and toss to coat evenly. There is a generous amount of sauce in this recipe, so it should work with bigger batches of chicken.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve.