There are few things more delicious than fried chicken. Chicken nuggets? Incredible. Chicken tenders? They rule. Chicken wings? Give me them drums, them flats, and some blue cheese dressing, and leave me in peace. But a different kind of fried chicken recently hit the freezer at Trader Joe’s: chicken karaage, a dish of marinated, crispy-fried chicken thigh chunks that’s popular in Japan (and anywhere with Japanese restaurants, tbh). Trader Joe’s is notorious for adapting international dishes for the masses—and sometimes they do it quite well. (Try their chana masala if you haven’t yet.) We grabbed a bag of these crispy chicken morsels and cooked them up in the ol’ toaster oven to see whether they deserve a spot in your cart or you should stick to takeout.
- Trader Joe’s Chicken Karaage
Whether you like chicken karaage or you’re just looking for something a little more sophisticated than your average chicken nugget to add to your weekly dinner rotation, TJ’s chicken karaage is pretty damn great. The breading is a little zesty, almost citrusy, and the chicken—which is marinated in mirin, soy sauce, and garlic and ginger powders—is super flavorful. The dark meat chicken stays nice and juicy and absorbs the flavors in the marinade. The morsels have a rich, fatty flavor that everyone loved.
We did think the breading was a little off. It’s more like the breading on a McNugget than the breading on chicken karaage you’ll find at your local Japanese spot, but the flavor makes up for a textural divergence. The best part? The chicken comes with a packet of a creamy, savory, mayonnaise-based dipping sauce we loved. Hey, Trader Joe’s—bottle this dipping sauce ASAP!