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Vegan Japanese Chicken Karaage

by momen
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Vegan Japanese chicken Karaage

Vegan Japanese chicken Karaage

It’s crispy and chewy vegan Japanese chicken Karaage made with tofu. I’m into making vegan / vegetarian recipes with “soy-meat”, since I made vegan Japanese hamburger steak. Because soy-meat creates really meaty texture than any other tofu acting as meat.

This time I used soy-meat for my absolute favorite Japanese dish, chicken Karaage.

How to make homemade soy-meat is that freeze firm tofu overnight, then thaw and tightly squeeze out water. If you would like to know more, I wrote instructions on this page.

How to make vegan Japanese chicken Karaage

Let me tell you how to make authentic Japanese Karrage in advance. It’s deep-fried chicken, which marinated with soy sauce, mirin, sake, ginger and garlic, then tossed in potato starch. Each family has different ingredients or secret ingredients of marinade sauce. But basic ingredients are above.

For the first experiment of making vegan Japanese Karaage, I mixed tofu (soy-meat) with soy sauce, maple syrup, garlic and ginger. Then blend with cornstarch as a binder of the mixture. After marinating, I shaped the mixture into bite-size balls and coated with cornstarch, then fired. It looked okay, but the taste wasn’t richer than I expected. Even though I added minced garlic and ginger, it was missing something. Moreover, I didn’t like the mealy texture which remained on my tongue. I thought it caused that I added cornstarch inside.

So thus, I needed to find 2 types of other ingredients which make the taste richer and keep the tofu together instead of cornstarch.

When I was thinking about this recipe while I was spreading peanut butter on the slice of bread in the morning, I came up with a good idea. Yes, I thought peanut butter maybe works great to infuse the richness to Karaage. Then I decided to use almond flour as a binder, as a member of team nut.

Vegan Japanese chicken Karaage

The result was that the nuts team worked great for the Karaage. Peanut butter and almond flour made it more savory and flavor settled. I think that it got much closer to the taste like chicken.

Karaage can be appetizer, snack or main dish in all seasons. Also, It’s nice to eat with a squeeze of lemon juice or dip in sweet chilli sauce to change the taste of this addictive Karaage!

Vegan Japanese chicken Karaage

If you also interested in authentic Karaage recipe, check out my Karaage recipe!

Vegan Japanese chicken Karaage
5 from 2 votes

Vegan Japanese Chicken Karaage

Crispy and chewy vegan Japanese chicken Karaage recipe made with tofu soy meat.
Author Matcha and Tofu
Servings: 3


Karaage Marinade

  • 600 g (21 oz) plain firm tofu For making soy meat. You need freeze it the day before.
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened peanut butter
  • 8 tbsp (1/2 cup / 48 g) almond flour / powder

Coating and Frying

  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup ( 1/2 - 1 inch) vegetable oil (Canola / Sunflower / Rapeseed) or more


  • 1 lemon


How to Make Soy-meat

  • Freeze the firm tofu in its packaging for at least overnight. If you speed up the process of thawing and squeezing tofu, cut into 5 cm / 2 inch squares. And place them in a container or storage plastic bag.
  • Thaw the tofu by soaking in the water until soft. If you want to thaw quickly, remove the tofu from the package, and put in a microwave or boil until soft.
  • Drain the water and pinch off handful tofu. Then tightly squeeze the tofu with your hands to remove any water. Repeat the process. If you heated up the tofu in the microwave, inside of the tofu is extremely hot, so be careful to squeeze.


  • Stir together the soy-meat, soy sauce, maple syrup, garlic and ginger in a bow or a food storage bag. Then refrigerate it for at least 10 minutes.
  • Add the peanut butter and almond flour and mix until well blended. If it's too soggy add a little more almond flour.
  • Shape the mixture into bite-size pieces.
  • Place the cornstarch in a separate bowl and add the Karaage one by one, then coat evenly.
  • Pour 1-2 cm ( 1/2 - 1 inch) of the vegetable oil in a large frying pan or skillet over a high heat. Heat until the oil reaches 170 C (340 F). 
  • When the oil ready, cook the Karaage until golden brown and crisp, flipping occasionally.
  • Transfer the chicken onto a paper towel-lined plate.

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Recipe Rating


Elizabeth C. 29th 1月 2020 - 12:09 am

5 stars

This was great. I’ve never used tofu like this before, but it really made me view it different – as a much more versatile ingredient. Thanks for the recipe!

momen 29th 1月 2020 - 4:23 pm

Thank you for your comment! I’m glad to hear that you discovered the new way to cook tofu!

Phuong 1st 1月 2020 - 3:46 am

I was scouring the internet for a Karaage recipe, because I was trying to figure out what to do with my left over tofu block and came across this! I think it’s so interesting that you use peanut butter to add a kick of flavour to it. Is there a reason why you don’t use rice vinegar or sake in the vegan version, like your chicken version? I was wondering, have you tried it and what was the result?

Thanks for sharing! I’d love to see more vegan spins! 🙂

momen 2nd 1月 2020 - 10:32 pm

Thank you for having an interest in my Karaage recipes. I’m glad if my recipe could be a little help for your leftover tofu. I only use rice vinegar and sake only for chicken version of Karaage, because these condiments make meat soft and help to remove meat smells. Which is not necessary for tofu.

As a daughter of a Japanese vegan chef, I’d love to share more vegan recipes in this year!