This delicious Chicken Nanban consists of fried chicken cooked in a sweet vinegar sauce and then topped with rich homemade Japanese tartar sauce. This dish was created in Miyazaki prefecture, Southern Japan and has influences from Portugal. It is now one of the most popular fried chicken dishes in Japan! You don't need to travel all the way to Miyazaki to enjoy this dish, the ingredients are easily accessible and you can make it from scratch in your own kitchen!
What is Chicken Nanban?
Chicken Nanban is a popular Western style "yoshoku" dish from Japan. Succulent chicken thigh is coated in egg and potato starch, deep fried and then coated in a tangy, sweet "nanban" sauce. Lastly, the dish is topped with a rich and creamy Japanese style tartar sauce.
You can find chicken nanban in restaurants, homes, bento boxes and convenience stores. With all these flavours and textures going on, it's easy to see why chicken nanban is such a well-loved dish in Japan!
Chicken nanban is most commonly served with shredded cabbage or salad, and rice. But it's a versatile dish, it also goes great with fries!
The Origin of Chicken Nanban
Chicken nanban is considered the soul food of "Nobeoka", a city in Miyazaki Prefecture, Kyushu, the southern island of Japan.
The dish was originally created in the 1960's and was served to workers at the Western style restaurant "London". One apprentice went on to open his own restaurant called "Naochan", serving dishes that before this point, were only served to the other cooks.
Chicken Nanban became popular all over the city and travelled across Japan to large cities like Tokyo and Osaka. It came to be one of the most popular fried chicken dishes in Japan!
What exactly is "Nanban"?
Nanban sauce comes from another popular dish called "Nanbanzuke". Nanbanzuke is a fish dish served in a sugar and vinegar with onions and carrots. Salmon nanbanzuke is popular, but it can be made with any fish, most commonly horse mackerel or smelt.
Nanbanzuke is served cold and is inspired by the Portuguese dish "escabeche". It is said that the Portuguese brought escabeche to Japan in the 16th century.
What does "Nanban" mean?
Nanban (南蛮) actually comes from the Chinese word "nánmán" which means "Southern Barbarians". It was a derogatory term for used in Chinese language back then to refer to non-Chinese from the south.
In Japan, nanban has a positive connotation, simply referring to high quality and desirable foreign goods, particularly from Portugal and Spain.
The Portuguese were the first Europeans to reach Japan and the 17th century is known as the "Nanban Trade" period where Portugal would trade things like guns, gold, lead and textiles for Japanese goods such as swords and lacquer ware.
There are actually a few famous Japanese dishes that originated from Portugal such as Tempura and Castella cake!
Frequently Asked Questions
What chicken part should I use for chicken nanban?
I recommend using chicken thigh for chicken nanban. You can also use chicken breast but it won't be as juicy as using chicken thigh.
Is chicken nanban the same as karaage?
Karaage is a method of marinating chicken and then lightly coating it with starch before deep frying. Chicken nanban is coated with egg as well so the method is different to karaage. If you're interested in karaage, check out my ultimate karaage recipe here!
What is chicken nanban served with?
In Japan, we often eat chicken nanban as a Japanese style set meal called "teishoku". This means eating our main dish with rice, miso soup and pickles.
Chicken nanban is usually served with a side salad or shredded cabbage. It also goes well with fries, it's pretty versatile!
How is Japanese tartar sauce different to regular tartar sauce?
Japanese tartar sauce is thicker and has chunks of boiled egg whites. It also contains Japanese mayonnaise which is made with rice vinegar. You can learn more about Japanese style tartar sauce here.
I hope you enjoy making this delicious Chicken Nanban from scratch with homemade tartar sauce. If you make this recipe, don't forget to leave a comment and rating to let us know how it went! You can also tag us on instagram @sudachi.recipes we love to see your creations!Print