How To Make Chicken Nanban (Fried Chicken With Tartar Sauce)

How To Make Chicken Nanban (Fried Chicken With Tartar Sauce)

by Megumi Moriya

Chicken Main Popular Regional Food Under 30 Minutes

Chicken Nanban is a local dish from Miyazaki Prefecture, located in the southern part of Japan. What makes Chicken Nanban so popular is the perfect combination of chicken, sweet vinegar sauce, and tartar sauce. This sweet, sour, and creamy sauce pairs well with deep-fried juicy chicken and Japanese staple food, steamed rice.

The origin of Chicken Nanban dates back to the 1950s in the Showa era. Originally, it was created as a meal provided by the employer at a restaurant in Nobeoka City. At that time, it was served as fried chicken soaked in sweet vinegar sauce, but gradually the style changed, and it has since been served garnished with tartar sauce on top.

Let’s delve into the name of the dish. The word “Nanban” has several meanings, one of which refers to the Portuguese or their culture. Chicken Nanban is named after their food culture, in which ingredients are soaked in sweet vinegar sauce (marinade). In Japan, “Nanban” also refers to chili pepper and Japanese leek. You can find the word in Japanese dishes such as “Curry Nanban” and “Nanban-zuke.”

Now, Chicken Nanban is not only a local dish of Miyazaki Prefecture but also enjoyed all over Japan, at home, in restaurants, and in school lunches. Thanks to convenience stores and bento shop chains adopting Chicken Nanban as a menu item, it has spread widely across Japan.

Chicken Nanban is different from Karaage or Chicken Katsu in terms of the crust. The exterior of Karaage and Chicken Katsu are commonly crispy and crunchy, while the exterior of Chicken Nanban is soft as it is made from egg batter. The deep-fried egg batter absorbing the sauce makes it unique among deep-fried chicken dishes.

While it may seem like you need many ingredients to make, it’s much easier to prepare than you think. Give it a try and enjoy another Japanese taste at home!


Prep time: 20 mins

Cook time: 10 mins

Total time: 30 mins

Total servings: 2

Difficulty: Easy

  • 300 g Chicken Thigh
  • 1 Egg (beaten)
  • 2 Tbsp All Purpose Flour
  • Cooking Oil, as needed
  • 100ml Water
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Sugar
  • 20 g Cucumber (Chopped) (for tartar sauce)
  • 20 g Onion (Chopped) (for tartar sauce)
  • 1 Boiled Egg (for tartar sauce)
  • 2.5 Tbsp Mayonnaise (for tartar sauce)
  • 1 tsp Ketchup (for tartar sauce)
  • 1/4 tsp Sugar (for tartar sauce)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste (for tartar sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce (for nanban sauce)
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar (for tartar sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp Mirin (for tartar sauce)
  • 2 Tbsp Rice Vinegar (for tartar sauce)
  • Sliced Chili Pepper (optional)

Expert's Tip

P-1-AKEB-EGGCOK-RE279-Akebono Microwave Egg Cooker 4 Eggs Capacity RE-279.jpg

Did you know that boiled eggs can be made in a microwave? By using this product, you can make 4 boiled eggs at once in about 10 minutes without boiling water! This cooking tool is perfect for making breakfast every morning as well as for preparing the tartar sauce for Chicken Nanban.


chicken nanban ingredients

1) Gathering the Ingredients

Gather the ingredients together.

adding salt, sugar, and water to a bowl
adding chopped onions and cucumer to the pickling water

2) Quick Pickling the Onions and Cucumbers

Mix 100ml of water, 1/2 tsp of sugar, and 1/2 tsp of salt in a bowl. Soak the chopped onion and cucumber in the mixture for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, drain and pat dry with paper towels.

mixing tartar sauce ingredients in a bowl
seasoning tar tar sauce with salt and pepper
adding the cucumers and onions to the tartar sauce

3) Making the Tartar Sauce

Crush a boiled egg in a bowl, and add mayonnaise, ketchup, sugar, salt, and pepper. Then, add the chopped cucumber and onion, and mix everything together.

adding nanban sauce ingredients into a saucepan
adding sliced chili pepper to the nanban sauce

4) Preparing the Nanban Sauce

Prepare a small pot and add the nanban sauce ingredients. Heat over medium heat and dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved, turn off the heat, add the sliced chili pepper, and set aside.

seasoning the chicken with salt and pepper
dredging the chicken in flour
dredging the flour coated chicken in egg

5) Battering the Chicken

Cut the chicken thigh into two pieces and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Coat each piece with all-purpose flour, shaking off any excess. Then dip them in the beaten egg.

frying the chicken
chicken, after frying

6) Frying the Chicken

Prepare a pot or frying pan and pour in cooking oil. Heat it over medium heat until it reaches 170℃. Deep-fry the chicken until cooked through.

After deep-frying, drain the excess oil on a draining tray.

coating the chicken in nanban sauce

7) Coating the Chicken in Nanban Sauce

Gently dip the chicken in the nanban sauce, coating both sides.

chicken nanban

8) Serving the Chicken Nanban

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces if you prefer. Serve the chicken with tartar sauce. Enjoy!

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