Recipe for Fried Chicken Cutlets by Wataru Yokota

Known as 'yurinchi' in Japan, these escalopes are inspired by Chinese fried chicken, particularly popular in Hong Kong cuisine.


WordsClémence Leleu

© Tuttle Publishing

‘Your own home becomes the best izakaya in town. Because you’re at home, you don’t need to feel constrained by any rules.’ From the introduction to his book The Real Japanese Izakaya Cookbook, chef Wataru Yokota seeks to reassure home cooks. 

In the book, he shares the recipe for yurinchi, crunchy fried chicken cutlets, which were initially a hallmark of Chinese cuisine. His tip to make them unforgettable is to pour a vinegar-and herb-based sauce over the chicken while it’s still hot.

The Real Japanese Izakaya Cookbook offers 120 recipes for dishes to be eaten on the move, typical of Japanese restaurants where friends and colleagues meet at the end of the working day. It contains the secrets needed to make yakitori chicken skewers and crispy gyoza. Wataru Yokota also shares a few tips for drinks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, to accompany each dish, and for grilling and smoking meat at home.

Serves 2


2 boneless chicken thighs (skin still on)

1 tsp sea salt, or to taste

Black pepper, to taste

3 tbsp cornflour

Oil for frying


For the sauce

1 10-cm-long piece Japanese leek or baby leek, or thick green onion (white part only), trimmed and finely chopped

½ tsp garlic, finely chopped

1⁄2 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

3 tbsp water

3 tbsp rice vinegar

3 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp sesame oil


Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Use a sharp knife to make several incisions in the chicken (the side without skin), cutting the muscle fibres to prevent the meat from shrinking while cooking.

Season the chicken with the salt and pepper, then coat both sides with cornflour. Shake off the excess.

Heat the oil to 180°C. Place the chicken skin-side-down and fry for around seven minutes. Turn and fry for around another three minutes.

Once the chicken is crispy and golden, place it on a plate lined with paper towels to drain, and leave for around one minute.

Cut into small chunks, arrange on a serving plate, and pour the sauce over them.


The Real Japanese Izakaya Cookbook (2019), a recipe book by Wataru Yokota, is published by Tuttle Publishing.

Wataru Yokota is a chef and Japanese culinary consultant. After graduating from cookery school, he headed to France to learn the subtleties of the country’s gastronomy before continuing his development in the United States, particularly in New York and San Francisco. He returned to Japan following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but left the brigades of restaurant kitchens to focus on working as a chef for private events and embarked on a career as a culinary consultant. The Real Japanese Izakaya Cookbook is his first recipe book to be translated into English. 

© Tuttle Publishing