Japanese cuisine can be synonymous with sushi and ramen, but outside of Japan one of the fundamental categories of Japanese cooking is often overlooked. That is Agemono あげもの – the Japanese category of deep-fried food, which is not only super tasty but also readily available throughout Japan in meals and snacks. But what grants deep-fried Japanese food its own category?
Besides the famed tempura and our favorite fried chicken karaage, Agemono covers the entire spectrum of fried foods from nanbanzuke to korokke (croquette) to tonkatsu. These foods are lightly battered and fried in vegetable oil. This method of cooking is said to have come about during the Nara Period in the eighth century but didn’t become prominent until the Edo Period in the 17th century. Let’s have a look at some of our favorite Agemono techniques.
Usually made using chicken or fish that’s first marinated with ingredients like soy, sake, sugar, etc. and then deep-fried. The fish karaage at RŌNIN is marinated, covered in katakuriko (potato starch), and then deep fried. The katakuriko ensures that the flavor of the fish will not be changed by the deep-frying.
Lightly battered, deep-fried vegetables or seafood. The ingredients are coated in a light tempura batter and then dipped for just seconds into hot oil – only one or two at a time as not to disturb the temperature of the oil.
Similar to tempura, but uses a lighter batter. Various vegetables or seafood are mixed together in a light tempura batter and formed into a sort of “tempura ball” before deep-frying.
Fish is fried and then marinated in a vinegar mixture that is made with different ingredients such as dashi stock, sake, and more.