chicken nanban recipe

by easy quick meal
chicken nanban

chicken nanban recipe

Chicken Nanban is a Japanese dish that typically consists of fried chicken that is marinated in a sweet and sour soy-based sauce. The word “Nanban” refers to a style of dish that originated in Portugal and was introduced to Japan by Portuguese missionaries in the 16th century. Over time, the Japanese adapted and incorporated their own flavors and techniques into the dish.

For Chicken Nanban, boneless chicken pieces are usually coated in flour and then deep-fried until golden brown. The fried chicken is then marinated in a sauce made with soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and sometimes other ingredients like sake or mirin. The sauce gives the dish a delightful balance of sweet and tangy flavors.

Chicken Nanban is often served with tartar sauce, which adds another layer of creaminess and complements the overall taste. It’s a popular dish in Japan and can be found in various restaurants and home kitchens.

key ingredients for Chicken Nanban

chicken nanban

For the Chicken:

  1. Chicken Breast or Thighs:
    • Boneless and skinless, cut into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Salt and Pepper:
    • For seasoning the chicken before frying.
  3. Flour:
    • Used for coating the chicken before frying.
  4. Eggs:
    • Beaten and used as an egg wash for coating the chicken.
  5. Vegetable Oil:
    • For deep-frying the chicken until golden brown.

For the Nanban Sauce:

  1. Soy Sauce:
    • Adds saltiness to the sauce.
  2. Rice Vinegar:
    • Provides acidity for the sweet and sour flavor.
  3. Sugar:
    • Adds sweetness to balance the flavors.
  4. Mirin:
    • A sweet rice wine that adds sweetness and depth to the sauce.
  5. Water:
    • Used to adjust the consistency of the sauce.
  6. Ketchup:
    • Adds a hint of tomato sweetness and color.


  1. Green Onions (Scallions):
    • Chopped for garnish.
  2. Red Pepper Flakes (Optional):
    • For a bit of heat, if desired.
  3. Pickled Red Ginger (Beni Shoga):
    • Traditional garnish, adds a tangy flavor.


  1. Tartar Sauce:
    • Served on the side for dipping.
  2. Lettuce or Cabbage:
    • Used as a bed for serving the Chicken Nanban.

Remember, these are the basic ingredients, and you can always adjust the quantities based on your preferences.

how to make Chicken Nanban

chicken nanban

1. Prep the Chicken:

  • Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
  • Dredge each piece in flour, then dip into beaten eggs, ensuring they are fully coated.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a deep pan or pot for frying.

2. Fry the Chicken:

  • Fry the chicken pieces until they are golden brown and cooked through. This usually takes about 5-7 minutes. Ensure the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).
  • Place the fried chicken on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess oil.

3. Make the Nanban Sauce:

  • In a saucepan, combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, mirin, water, and ketchup.
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  • Simmer for a few minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat.

4. Combine Chicken and Nanban Sauce:

  • Dip each piece of fried chicken into the Nanban sauce, ensuring they are well-coated.
  • Allow the chicken to soak in the sauce for a minute or two, absorbing the flavors.

5. Garnish and Serve:

  • Place the Nanban chicken on a serving plate.
  • Garnish with chopped green onions, red pepper flakes (if desired), and pickled red ginger.
  • Optionally, serve with tartar sauce on the side.
  • For a refreshing touch, serve on a bed of lettuce or shredded cabbage.

6. Enjoy!

  • Your Chicken Nanban is ready to be enjoyed. Serve it hot and savor the delicious sweet and sour flavors!

Feel free to adjust the sauce ingredients to your taste preferences.

Serving Suggestion

chicken nanban
  1. Bed of Shredded Cabbage or Lettuce:
    • Serve the Chicken Nanban on a bed of freshly shredded cabbage or lettuce. This provides a refreshing crunch and complements the flavors of the dish.
  2. Garnish with Green Onions:
    • Sprinkle finely chopped green onions (scallions) over the top of the Chicken Nanban for a burst of color and additional flavor.
  3. Accompanying Sauce:
    • Place a small bowl of tartar sauce on the side. The creaminess of tartar sauce pairs well with the sweet and tangy Nanban sauce.
  4. Side Dish:
    • Consider serving it with a side of steamed rice to absorb the delicious Nanban sauce. Alternatively, you can serve it with Japanese rice or even noodles.
  5. Pickled Red Ginger:
    • Add a side of pickled red ginger (Beni Shoga) for those who enjoy a tangy and slightly spicy kick.
  6. Japanese Presentation:
    • Arrange the Chicken Nanban on a Japanese-style plate or bento box for an authentic touch.
  7. Optional Sesame Seeds:
    • Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds over the top for added texture and nuttiness.
  8. Serve Hot:
    • Chicken Nanban is best enjoyed hot, so serve it immediately after coating it in the Nanban sauce.

Remember, these are just suggestions, and you can customize the presentation based on your preferences.

Potential Health Benefits

Chicken Nanban, like many dishes, can have both positive and negative health considerations. Let’s break down some potential health benefits and considerations:

  1. Protein Source:
    • Chicken is a good source of lean protein, which is essential for muscle maintenance and repair.
  2. Vitamins and Minerals:
    • Chicken contains various vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins like niacin and B6, which play crucial roles in metabolism.
  3. Moderate Consumption of Fats:
    • While the deep-frying process adds some fat, consuming chicken in moderation can contribute to a balanced diet.
  4. Versatile Nutrients:
    • The dish may include vegetables like green onions and cabbage, adding additional nutrients and fiber.


  1. Frying Process:
    • Deep-frying can increase the calorie and fat content of the dish. Consider alternative cooking methods like baking or grilling for a healthier option.
  2. Sauce Ingredients:
    • The Nanban sauce often contains sugar and may contribute to the overall calorie and sugar intake. Moderation is key, especially for those monitoring their sugar intake.
  3. Sodium Content:
    • Soy sauce, a key ingredient in the Nanban sauce, is high in sodium. Individuals watching their sodium intake should be mindful of their overall diet.
  4. Serving Size:
    • Be mindful of portion sizes to avoid overeating, as excessive consumption can contribute to calorie intake.
  5. Accompaniments:
    • Depending on the side dishes served, the overall health impact can vary. Opt for healthier sides like steamed vegetables or a small portion of whole grains.

General Tips for a Healthier Version:

  1. Bake or Grill Instead of Frying:
    • Consider baking or grilling the chicken for a lower-fat alternative.
  2. Modify the Sauce:
    • Adjust the Nanban sauce recipe to reduce sugar content or explore low-sodium soy sauce options.
  3. Incorporate More Vegetables:
    • Increase the vegetable content to boost fiber and nutrient intake.
  4. Whole Grain Options:
    • Pair the dish with whole grains like brown rice for added nutritional value.
  5. Hydration:
    • Drink plenty of water, especially if the dish is on the salty side, to help balance sodium levels.

As with any dish, enjoying Chicken Nanban in moderation and as part of a balanced diet is key to a healthy lifestyle. Individual dietary needs and health goals may vary, so it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or nutritionist for personalized advice.

tips and tricks

chicken nanban

Chicken Preparation:

  • Uniform Size: Cut the chicken into uniform-sized pieces to ensure even cooking.

2. Seasoning:

  • Marination: For extra flavor, marinate the chicken in a mixture of soy sauce, ginger, and garlic for 30 minutes before proceeding with the coating process.

3. Coating Process:

  • Double Coating: Dip the chicken in flour, then egg, and back into flour for a double coating. This helps create a crispier texture.

4. Frying Technique:

  • Optimal Oil Temperature: Maintain a consistent oil temperature (around 350°F or 180°C) for frying. Use a thermometer to monitor the oil temperature.
  • Don’t Overcrowd: Fry the chicken in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan, ensuring each piece gets evenly cooked and crispy.
  • Draining Excess Oil: After frying, place the chicken on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess oil.

5. Nanban Sauce:

  • Adjust Sweetness and Sourness: Taste the Nanban sauce and adjust the sweetness or sourness according to your preference. Add a bit more sugar for sweetness or vinegar for tartness.
  • Simmer for Thickness: Allow the sauce to simmer until it reaches the desired thickness. This ensures a coating consistency on the chicken.

6. Garnishing:

  • Freshness with Green Onions: Garnish with freshly chopped green onions right before serving for a burst of freshness.
  • Balance with Pickled Red Ginger: The pickled red ginger adds a tangy kick that balances the sweetness of the Nanban sauce. Use it as a garnish for both flavor and visual appeal.

7. Serving:

  • Serve Immediately: Chicken Nanban is best enjoyed immediately after coating with the Nanban sauce. This helps maintain the crispy texture of the chicken.
  • Accompaniments: Serve with a side of steamed rice, shredded cabbage, or a light salad for a balanced meal.

8. Customization:

  • Spice it Up: If you like some heat, add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the Nanban sauce or sprinkle them on top as a garnish.
  • Tartar Sauce Twist: Offer tartar sauce as a dipping option for those who enjoy a creamy element.

9. Presentation:

  • Eye-Appealing Presentation: Arrange the Chicken Nanban on the plate with care for an aesthetically pleasing presentation. Consider using traditional Japanese serving ware for an authentic touch.

10. Experiment:

  • Personal Touch: Feel free to experiment with the Nanban sauce ingredients to find the perfect balance of sweet, sour, and savory flavors that suits your taste.

By paying attention to these tips, you’ll enhance the texture, flavor, and overall appeal of your Chicken Nanban.

In conclusion, Chicken Nanban is a delightful Japanese dish that combines the crispy goodness of deep-fried chicken with the unique sweet and sour flavors of the Nanban sauce. Achieving the best Chicken Nanban involves careful preparation, thoughtful seasoning, and attention to the frying and saucing processes. By following these tips and tricks, you can create a dish that not only tantalizes the taste buds with its flavorful profile but also boasts a visually appealing presentation.


  • Q: Is Nanban sauce too spicy? Not at all. The spice in Nanban sauce is subtle, contributing to the overall flavor profile without overwhelming the dish.
  • Q: Can I prepare Chicken Nanban in advance? Yes, you can. Reheat it in the oven to maintain the crispiness.
  • Q: Any vegetarian alternative for Chicken Nanban? Explore tofu Nanban for a delightful vegetarian twist on this Japanese classic.
  • Q: How can I make the Nanban sauce less sweet? Adjust the sugar quantity to your liking during the sauce preparation.

chicken nanban

chicken nanban recipe

Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 500 calories 30g fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )


For the Chicken:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Flour, for dredging
  • 1-2 eggs, beaten
  • Panko breadcrumbs, for coating
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

For the Nanban Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sake (Japanese rice wine) or white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

For Garnish:

  • Green onions, chopped
  • Red chili flakes (optional)


  1. Prepare the Chicken:
    • Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.
    • Season with salt and pepper.
    • Dredge each piece in flour, dip in beaten eggs, and coat with Panko breadcrumbs.
  2. Fry the Chicken:
    • Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
    • Fry the chicken until golden brown and cooked through, about 4-5 minutes per side.
    • Place the fried chicken on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
  3. Make the Nanban Sauce:
    • In a small saucepan, combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, sake (or white wine), grated ginger, and minced garlic.
    • Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the sauce thickens slightly.
  4. Combine Chicken and Sauce:
    • Dip each piece of fried chicken into the Nanban sauce, ensuring it's well coated.
  5. Serve:
    • Place the sauced chicken on a serving plate.
    • Garnish with chopped green onions and red chili flakes if you like.
  6. Enjoy:
    • Serve the Chicken Nanban over rice or on its own. It's delicious both ways!


  1. Crispy Texture Tip: For an extra crispy texture, ensure the oil is hot enough before frying the chicken. You can test this by dropping a small piece of bread into the oil – if it sizzles and turns golden brown in about 60 seconds, the oil is ready. Additionally, pressing the Panko breadcrumbs firmly onto the chicken pieces before frying helps achieve a crunchy coating.
  2. Flavorful Variations: Experiment with the Nanban sauce to find your preferred balance of sweet and sour. You can adjust the sugar, soy sauce, and vinegar quantities to suit your taste. Some variations include adding a dash of Worcestershire sauce for depth or a pinch of red pepper flakes for a hint of heat. Feel free to customize the sauce to create a flavor profile that suits your palate.
  3. Serving Suggestions: While Chicken Nanban is delightful on its own, consider serving it with a side of steamed rice or a simple salad to create a well-rounded meal. The dish pairs well with pickled vegetables or a refreshing cucumber salad. For an authentic touch, sprinkle extra chopped green onions and a squeeze of lemon over the chicken before serving to enhance the overall taste and presentation.
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