It may seem odd, but in Japan today, the Christmas meal of choice is Kentucky Fried Chicken. Less than one percent of the nation is Christian and while they commemorate the day with Mass and visiting the sick and poor, most people celebrate Christmas in a more commercial way. In fact, it isn’t considered a national holiday and businesses and schools remain open.
Christmas Eve is similar to Valentine’s Day when couples spend time together, lavishing each other with luxurious restaurant meals and gifts. And on Christmas Day, parents leave gifts next to the pillows of their children. Children, on the other hand, don’t give gifts to their parents as the gifts are supposed to come from “Santa.”
Traditional Japanese Christmas fare includes a pretty Kurisumasu Keki or Christmas Cake which is a white cake topped with whipped cream and strawberries. But the most popular main dish is, of all things, Kentucky Fried Chicken. Yes, the US fast food franchised chicken. People stand in long lines outside of their local KFC just to pick up a bucket of chicken on this day.
I have my own KFC-like recipe for fried chicken that we enjoy. Of course, the “secret” high steam-pressure deep frying is supposed to seal in the juices, and that process can’t be replicated at home. But the flavors are here and proper deep frying will seal in the juices just fine without forcing any excess oil into the meat that may occur in high-pressure frying. Because I don’t like the tang of buttermilk in my chicken, I use sweet cream but you can substitute buttermilk if you like.
You can’t count the 11 herbs and spices but the chicken bouillon powder contains the extras!
KFC-like Fried Chicken
1 fryer chicken, cut into frying pieces (2 breasts, two legs, two thighs and two wings; discard back section)
2 cups sweet cream
3 large eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. powdered sage
2 tsp. chicken bouillon powder
oil for deep frying
Wash and pat dry the chicken pieces. In a shallow dish, beat together the eggs and sweet cream. In a separate dish, combine well the dry seasonings. Dip the chicken pieces into the egg mixture and then dredge into the seasoned flour mixture. Place these on waxed paper while the oil heats. Allowing the flour to set on the chicken helps the coating stay on.
In a deep fryer, heat oil to 400 degrees. Add several chicken pieces but do not overcrowd. The temperature of the oil will lower. After a few minutes, lower the heat to maintain a constant 350 degrees on your fryer thermometer. Cook until golden brown, turning once if necessary. Drain on paper towels. Place in oven to hold until remaining chicken is cooked. Do not cover with foil or plastic wrap as this will cause the steam to soften the chicken coating.
Enjoy and Meri Kurisumasu