Summer Chicken Japanese-Style

This is a delicious dish is cooked chicken marinated with a sweet chili-flavored, vinegar-based nambon zuke dressing.
You can cook once then serve in many different ways.
Slice it to serve as a salad topping, or use it on ramen noodles with hyashi chuka soba sauce, reheat it in a steamer or microwave to serve it with mashed sweet potatoes, or serve it with mixed grilled vegetables.

1 September 2010

Chicken Soup,
Chicken Sandwich
3 September 2010

Another Versatile
Summer Recipe
19 July 2009

Hiyashi Chuka Soba:
Japanese Summertime
10 August 2008

Japanese Chicken in
Vinegar Marinade
14 May 2008

Chicken in Spicy Vinegar Marinade
Tori Namban-zuke

from: The Japanese Kitchen
•250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit•
by Hiroko Shimbo
page 415
serves 8 to 12

The original recipe is meant to serve 2, but because this can be a planned second (even third) meal, I have adjusted it for making several meals.

The Chicken

  • 3 ½ pounds skinned and boneless chicken thighs

If you use thighs with skin, prick the skin with the point of a knife. In that case I dust a little salt over the skin, then rinse and dry it before frying.

The Marinade:

  • one 3″ square kombu, soaked in 1 ½ cups water for 2 hours
  • 1 ½ cup rice vinegar (komezu)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup soy sauce (shoyu)
  • 5 small dried red chile peppers (akatogarashi) [3], seeded and sliced into thin rings or 1/2 tsp. cile pepper flakes

Remove the kombu from its soaking liquid. Discard the kombu. In a saucepan, bring the kombu stock, rice vinegar, sugar, and shoyu to a very gentle simmer. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and add the chile. Reserve.

The Cooking:

  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 naganegi long onions, white parts only, or young thin leeks, or green onions, cut into strips 1 ½″ long

Heat the oven to 350°F.
In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the long onions and cook over medium heat until they are slightly golden. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain, and add to the marinade.
Heat the oil in the skillet again. Brown the chicken on both sides, paying special attention to making the skin nice and golden. For skinless thighs, a quick very hot sear is enough. If you want to try this recipe with skinless, boneless chicken breasts, then I’d suggest steaming them to cook—white meat gets dry and tough with dry heat.
Remove the chicken from the skillet and drain on paper towels.
Transfer the chicken to an oven-safe dish and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until cooked.
Cool the dish until you can add the marinade without fear of shocking the glass (ie: cracking). Refrigerate overnight or for as long as 5 days.
Cut the marinated chicken into slices, and serve it cold, accompanied with negi and a generous amount of vinegar marinade. Or reheat the uncut chicken in a steamer or microwave and serve with fried potatoes and smooth French mustard.


12 thoughts on “Summer Chicken Japanese-Style

  1. Hi there. Love your posts and recipes. Small point, but it is Namban-zuke not Nambon. Namban 南蛮 (literally southern barbarian) was the name the Japanese gave to the Spanish and Portuguese who first arrived in Japan from the south. The Spanish and Portuguese influenced Japanese cooking in a number of ways, introducing or encouraging Tempura and Escabeche which the Japanese called Namban-zuke.

  2. “This is a delicious dish is ”
    “or use it on ramen noodles with hyashi chuka soba ”
    “Tori Nambon-zuke”

    Hi James,
    YIKES! I think that is a typo of long-standing! Thank you!
    I usually read over what I’ve typed, but I have to admit “namban” was not part of my vocabulary as I was growing up.
    Most recipes I’ve seen for this dish include deep-frying the chicken first. But I like Ms. Shimbo’s version. It makes more sense to my mind not to soak a crispy fried food—in my mind, the red peppers in the marinade are a sufficient Portuguese influence: I don’t need the addition deep-fried calories…

    BTW, I have a terrible time typing the word “attatch” properly


  3. Tess, no worries. I am a terrible hunt and peck typist and have the bad habit of sending things out before checking them.. clicking the SEND button and in the last split second finding a number of typos and going “Noooooo!” : )

    I lived for a number of years in Okayama attending university there. I can distinctly remember my first time eating namban-zuke and thinking “Wow… fish deep fried, then soaked in some vinegary sauce and all the crispyness gone” In my mind it didn’t or shouldn’t have worked but it sure tasted good.

    Love your cat. We have a long haired tabby named smokey and he is quite peeved to know that I haven’t used him in my blog. : ) Keep those great recipes coming!

    you fan


  4. LOL about your cat! Did you see the exposé my Gracie wrote?

    I like Ms. Shimbo’s yuan yaki recipe for fish, which is coated with flour, fried and basted with the marinade. Usually, my husband cooks this dish. And yes, it shouldn’t work but it does.

    Deep frying scares me, but one of these days I should try Shizuo Tsuji’s version of namban chicken or fish.

    I make this recipe often because it fits so well with working and still getting a nice meal on the table. This version is so simple. Maybe I’m lazy?

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