Kakiage is a type of tempura made with a variety of vegetable strips, often with seafood. This is a popular home cooking dish as it uses leftover vegetables to clean up the fridge for the week. Light and crispy kakiage is so delicious to eat just with tempura dipping sauce. But how about placing kakiage on top of hot rice and make it a kakiage-don?
The name “kakiage” (かき揚げ) came from the way it is made, i.e. kakimazeru (かき混ぜる, mix them all), and ageru (揚げる, deep fry). Unlike other tempura items, kakiage is battered and deep fried vegetables with/without seafood, made in flat round shape.
I find that kakiage is quicker to prepare and less stressful to cook than making individual tempura. Even if you make a bit of mess while dropping the mixture into the hot oil, it will still look OK. That’s the beauty of “mix them all” business.
Kakiage also freezes well. When I make tempura with prawns and other vegetables like those you can see in my recipe, Tempura, I usually make kakiage at the end and freeze them to eat some time later. Tempura uses quite a lot of oil so making extra dishes at the same time is the most economical way of using the oil, I think.
There are no rules as to what should be in kakiage but the most commonly used ingredients are small prawns (shrimps), thinly sliced onions and julienned carrots. But you could use shallots (scallions), which I used in this recipe, thinly sliced burdock, potatoes, shiitake mushrooms, green beans, snow peas, or even corn kernels. And many more.
Instead of prawns, you could use squid, scallops, dried small prawns, or dried anchovies. I once added thinly sliced chicken breast meat and it was as good as seafood. It’s OK not to have seafood/meat and make it all vegetarian, of course.
When I thought of making kakiage, I did not have fresh meat or fish but had a packet of dried anchovies called niboshi (煮干し). There are large dried anchovies which are about 5cm (2”) long or even longer, and tiny dried anchovies which are only about 3cm long and very skinny, as seen in the photo below.
The large dried anchovies are used to make Japanese dashi stock. They are pretty hard and unsuitable for kakiage. The tiny dried anchovies for nibbles are easy to munch and great for kakiage. They are sold at Asian/Japanese grocery stores.
I find that either Japanese brand or Korean brand of tiny anchovies are the best. I love dried anchovies. They are delicious and make a great beer snack, I reckon.
The vegetables need to be thinly sliced or julienned into similar sizes so that they will be cooked through within a similar timeframe. It would also be a good idea to consider the colour combinations of the ingredients. I think that’s one of the reasons why carrots are always used.
The batter to mix the ingredients is made just like tempura. You will need flour, egg and cold water. The batter should not be mixed too much to avoid activation of gluten which acts as glue. You will find the details of how to make crispy tempura batter in my Tempura recipe.
When deep frying, you will need a little bit of technique to make the ingredients spread thinly. I use a flat spatula to spread the ingredients thinly on it, then gently slide it them into the oil. Professionals use a ring to make a perfect round kakiage but I am not so concerned about the round shape as it is pretty hard to achieve a perfect round without a ring.
As long as the ingredients are thinly spread widely, it should be fine. My kakiage in the photos are roughly 8cm x 10cm oval-like shape with bits of vegetables poking out and I am OK with it. They look more natural and really “home-made”, in my view.
Kakiage is a type of tempura made with a variety of vegetable strips, often with seafood. This is a popular home cooking dish as it uses leftover vegetables to clean up the fridge for the week. Light and crispy kakiage is so delicious to eat just with tempura dipping sauce.
Also, see the note for making kakiage-don (kakiage on rice bowl).
- 120 ml of ½ egg + cold water (note 1)
- 6 tbsp flour
- A pinch of salt
- Oil for deep fry
- 20 g dried small anchovies (note 3)
- 50 g carrots , cut to 3mm thick, 5 cm long sticks (note 4)
- 2 stems of shallots (scallions), thinly sliced diagonally
- 50 g frozen shredded burdock or fresh burdock finely julienned
- Tempura dipping sauce (note 5)
Add the egg and cold water to a large bowl and mix well to make egg water.
Add flour to the bowl and gently mix by drawing the number 8 several times leaving powdery lumps of flour.
Add Kakiage ingredients to the bowl and mix gently to coat the vegetable with the batter, trying not to lose powdery lumps of flour.
Fill a deep frypan or a pot with oil up to a minimum depth of 3cm (1¼“) and heat the oil to 170C (335F). Drop a tiny amount of batter onto the surface, and if it hardly touches the bottom and returns to the surface, it is at the right temperature.
Place 1/6 of the tempura mixture on to a flat spatula spreading evenly (note 6), then using cooking chopsticks or a fork, gently slide the mixture onto the oil.
Cook for about 1.5 minutes, then turn it over and cook further 1 minute (note 7). Transfer to a tray/plate lined with two layers of kitchen papers to absorb the excess oil.
Repeat for the rest of kakiage mixture. If your frypan/pot is large, you could fry 2-3 kakiage at once but ensure that you do not overcrowd as it will bring down the temperature of the oil too much resulting in soggy tempura. I used a 24cm frypan and fried only two kakiage at a time.
Serve while hot with dipping sauce.
1. When you make a small quantity of kakiage, it is awkward to use ½ (or even less) of the egg as you may not have any other use of the leftover egg. If you wish, you could omit egg and just use 120ml of water. Kakiage will still be good.
2. As I mentioned in my blog, you could vary the ingredients. I happened to have these ingredients at hand. Instead of dried fish, you could use small prawns, thinly sliced squid, scallops, strips of chicken, etc. Vegetables can be onions, shiitake mushrooms, zucchinis, eggplants, pumpkins, potatoes, etc.
You could also make it 100% vegetarian. Use vegetable dashi stock to make dipping sauce.
3. You can buy tiny dried anchovies from Japanese/Asian grocery stores. They are usually sold as nibbles and are OK to eat without cooking. I find that Japanese brand or Korean brands are the best. Do not buy the large dried anchovies that are suitable for making Japanese dashi stock. They are not suitable for kakiage.
4. I usually slice carrots diagonally into 5cm long, 3mm thick. Then julienne them into sticks.
5. Please refer to my post, Tempra. You don't have to have grated daikon and ginger.
6. I always used a wooden flat spatula to slide the kakiage into the oil. But you could use a shallow ladle or very large spoon. You need to spread the mixture evenly and avoid having a mountain of the mixture on the spatula. Uneven thickness of the mixture results in kakiage half over cooked and half under cooked.
7. If the kakiage is thick, it will take longer to cook. If you spread the ingredients thinly, it will also make few spaces in kakiage reducing cooking time.
8. If you would like to make Kakiage-don with these kakiage, simply place 2-3 kakiage on top of hot cooked rice in a bowl, pour dipping sauce over the kakiage. Part of the rice is soaked with the dipping sauce which makes the tempura-don so tasty. See the photo of Kakiage-don below the recipe.
9. You can freeze cooked Kakiage for 1 month. Drain oil and let them cool. Warp the Kakiage with kitchen paper individually and place them in a ziplock bag without overlapping. Remove the air from the bag as much as possible and freeze.
Thaw in the fridge over night (or use microwave if no time). Place a piece of creased aluminium foil on a tray, place the Kakiage and heat them in the oven or grill.