Learn how to make this delicious Ponzu Chicken with crispy pan fried chicken thighs served with fluffy rice, sautéed vegetables and drizzled with a tangy homemade ponzu sauce. If you love citrus flavours or the umami rich taste of teriyaki, you’re sure to love this dish!
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What is ponzu chicken?
Ponzu chicken is basically any dish that combines chicken with Japanese ponzu sauce, whether it be stir fried, marinated or glazed, they are all variations of “ponzu chicken”. For my ponzu chicken, I pan fry chicken thighs until the skin is extremely crispy and then drizzle it with a glossy homemade ponzu glaze.
This dish is a little similar to teriyaki chicken, but with a bold and citrusy kick from the ponzu sauce. If you’re like me and love sour flavours, you’re definitely going to love this dish!
I serve my ponzu chicken with white rice and sautéed pak choi and shimeji mushrooms, but feel free to serve it with any of your favourite stir fry vegetables!
- How to make the crispiest pan-fried chicken thigh
- Tangy homemade ponzu sauce that’s ready in minutes
- A comforting meal perfect for lunch or dinner
What is ponzu?
Ponzu is a Japanese all purpose condiment often used for cooking, dipping and marinating. It’s made with a combination of soy sauce, vinegar and citrus juice. Some of the most common citrus used to make ponzu are yuzu (yuzupon), lemon and kabosu, just to name a few.
The name “ponzu” (ポン酢) comes from the Dutch word “pons”, a type of citrus juice consumed by the Dutch sailors who drove the trade ships between Japan and the Netherlands sometime during the Edo Period (1603-1868). Vinegar was added to the juice and “pons” became “ponzu”, “zu” meaning “vinegar” in Japanese.
Originally, ponzu mixed with soy sauce was referred to as “ponzu shoyu”, however, over time the popularity of ponzu with soy sauce overtook the original citrus juice and vinegar mixture. These days, the term “ponzu” is simply a shortened version of “ponzu shoyu” and the original ponzu is hard to come by.
The refreshing taste of ponzu makes it the perfect condiment for adding balance to dishes that contain fish or meats that have a strong odor. It’s also great for fatty or deep fried dishes!
Mizkan’s “Ajipon” is one of my personal favourite brands that I use often. It should be available in well stocked Asian or Japanese supermarkets. Alternatively, you can buy Kikkoman brand ponzu on Amazon.
Ponzu is surprisingly easy to make and you can customize the flavour using your favourite citrus fruits. If you have time and are interested in making your very own ponzu sauce, check out my homemade ponzu recipe here!
Ingredients for ponzu chicken
To make this ponzu chicken recipe, you will need the following ingredients:
- Ponzu (homemade or store-bought)
- Light brown sugar
- Skin-on chicken thigh
- Salt and pepper
See recipe card at the bottom of the page for ingredient quantities.
You can serve ponzu chicken any way you like. I opted for sautéed pak choi and shimeji mushrooms over a bed of white rice, but feel free to swap these out for your favourite sides and vegetables!
Instructions on how to make ponzu chicken
Here are my step by step instructions on how to make the ultimate crispy pan fried chicken thigh with homemade ponzu sauce. I’ve also included how I sauté the vegetables, these steps can applied to any of your favourite stir fry vegetables. See the recipe card at the bottom of the page for ingredient quantities.
Prepare the chicken
The first step is to flatten out the chicken thigh so that it’s the same thickness all the way through, this will help it cook more quickly and evenly. To do this, I use kitchen scissors to make incisions on the thickest parts and stretch them out.
You can also cut out the tendons and sinew at this point to improve the overall texture.
Next, I turn the chicken over and pull the skin over the edges.
Cover the meat side with plastic wrap and place the chicken in a container with the skin side facing up. Pat the surface of the skin dry with kitchen paper and then store the chicken in the fridge with the skin exposed for 30 minutes. This will help dry it out further and make it extra crispy when it’s fried. The plastic wrap underneath is to protect the meat itself from drying out.
Since raw chicken can carry food-borne illnesses, be careful to place it away from other items in your fridge to prevent cross contamination.
Start with a cold pan
Take a large frying pan big enough for both chicken thighs to lay completely flat and add the oil while it’s still cold. Place the chicken in the pan with the skin side down and sprinkle the top with salt and pepper.
By starting with a cold pan and gradually increasing the heat, the fat is able to render at a slower rate, resulting in exceptionally crispy skin. It also allows the chicken to cook all the way through to the centre without burning the skin.
Transfer the pan to the stove, but don’t turn on the heat just yet.
Place a weight on the chicken
To crisp up the skin even further, I place a weight on the chicken. Personally I use a pot of water, the pot should be small enough to fit inside your frying pan.
Cover the chicken with foil to protect it from the bottom of your pot.
Then place the pot of water on top of the foil.
Turn on the heat to medium low and once it starts to sizzle, set a timer for 10 minutes.
By placing a weight on top of the chicken, the surface area of the skin is pressed firmly down against the bottom of the pan. This ensures it’s in direct contact with the heat and oil resulting in a perfectly crispy skin. The weight also helps flatten the chicken thigh allowing it to cook more evenly.
Once 10 minutes have passed, remove the pot of water and the foil. Scoop the juices in the pan and baste the top of the chicken for 2-3 minutes.
Fry the other side
Flip the chicken over and fry on the other side for a few minutes until the chicken is cooked all the way through.
Once the chicken is cooked, transfer it to a chopping board and leave to rest while you cook the vegetables.
Sauté vegetables in chicken fat
Using the same pan, add the vegetables and sauté for a few minutes with a pinch of salt and pepper.
If you feel the pan is too oily, wipe the excess away with kitchen paper before adding the vegetables.
The vegetables will absorb the delicious flavour leftover from the chicken. Once they’re slightly softened, remove the pan from the heat.
Make the sauce
Take a small sauce pan and add the ponzu, mirin, sake, light brown sugar and honey. Bring it to a boil over a medium heat and allow it to bubble for 1-2 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix 1 tbsp of cold water with 1 tsp of potato starch (or corn starch) to make a slurry. Reduce the heat to low and pour the slurry into the pan.
Gently mix over the heat until the sauce is glossy and slightly thickened, then remove it from the heat.
Cut the chicken into strips and make a bed of rice on each serving plate, then place the chicken and vegetables on top.
Finally, drizzle the ponzu sauce generously over the top, then serve and enjoy!
This dish is best served immediately (storing will cause the skin to lose its crispiness!).
I hope you enjoy this easy and delicious ponzu chicken!
Easy and Delicious Ponzu Chicken
- 90 ml ponzu see my homemade ponzu recipe
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 2 tbsp sake
- 2 tsp light brown sugar
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tbsp cold water to make slurry
- 1 tsp potato starch to make slurry
- Lay 500-600 g boneless chicken thigh(s) out on a chopping board with the skin side facing down, and use kitchen scissors to make incisions in the thickest parts of the meat. These incisions will make flaps, pull them outwards to flatten the chicken. (You can also use the scissors to cut out any sinew or tendons.)
- Turn the chicken over and stretch the skin so it is wrapped over the edges.
- Cover the meat side with plastic wrap and place the chicken in a container with the skin side facing up. Pat the surface of the skin dry with kitchen paper and store the chicken in the fridge uncovered for about 30 minutes to dry it out. (Make sure the chicken isn't touching any other items in your fridge to avoid cross contamination.)
- Take a large pan and add 2 tbsp cooking oil while it's still cold. Swirl it around to coat the bottom. Place the chicken in the cold pan with the skin side down and sprinkle with 2 pinches salt and pepper.
- Place a piece of foil over the top.
- Take a pot that is small enough to fit in the frying pan, fill it half way up with water and place it on top of the foil. This will act as a weight and help the chicken skin become extra crispy.
- Place the pan on the stove and set the heat to medium-low. Once you start to hear sizzling, set a timer for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes have passed, remove the pot of water and foil. Baste the top of the chicken with oil from the pan for 2-3 minutes.
- Flip the chicken over and fry on the other side for 1-2 minutes.
- Transfer the chicken to a chopping board and leave to rest until serving time.
- In the same pan, sauté the 200 g pak choi and 150 g mushroom of your choice in the chicken juices for a few minutes with a pinch of salt and pepper. (If you feel the pan is too oily, wipe it with kitchen paper first.) Once cooked, remove from the heat.
- Take a small saucepan and add the 90 ml ponzu, 2 tbsp mirin, 2 tbsp sake, 2 tsp light brown sugar and 1 tsp honey. Mix well and bring to a boil over a medium heat. Allow it to bubble for 1-2 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low and mix 1 tbsp cold water and 1 tsp potato starch in a small bowl to make a slurry. Pour the slurry into the ponzu sauce and mix. Simmer until thickened slightly and then remove from the heat.
- Cut the chicken into strips and plate up with 2 portions cooked Japanese short-grain rice and vegetables.
- Drizzle the ponzu sauce over the chicken and vegetables, and enjoy!