This Recipe Is the Luxe Way to Shake ‘n Bake Your Next Chicken Dinner

Itoko chef Gene Kato shared his spice-centric recipe

August 4, 2023 6:21 am
Shaken Kato chicken from Itoko
The Shaken Kato at Itoko
Itoko/Keni Rosales

If the very idea of Shake ‘n Bake makes you feel like a kid again, you’re not alone. Post-pandemic, there’s been a massive rise in nostalgic recipes, and you can find one such dish at Chicago’s Itoko. There, chef Gene Kato’s Shaken Kato evokes all the best parts of a modern Shake ‘n Bake recipe and karaage, with a ridiculously crispy texture and an interactive seasoning policy.

“I wanted to do a fried chicken dish that was similar to the traditional karaage in technique, but incorporated an interactive element for our guests,” he says. “It was a technique I saw a lot of people use when living and cooking in North Carolina.”

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Kato’s version has been on the menu since he began as a pop-up back in 2020. Dusted in a mix of potato starch and cornstarch, his signature fried chicken emerges from the fryer crispy and tender. It’s only once it arrives tableside that guests add the signature seasoning — and the chicken — to a brown paper bag, shaking it to coat it on all sides. The spice mix itself is made with roasted and pulverized shishito peppers that are seasoned with garlic, cumin, onion, mustard powder and a bit of Knorr bouillon powder for an umami kick. Any leftover spices, Kato says, can be employed to season any protein.

“Beyond tasting awesome, I think guests are often surprised to see a dish that they can take part in,” Kato says. “The ability to ultimately decide how much of the spice mixture ends up on your wings gives the guest a unique and interactive element.”

Shaken Kato

Servings: 6

  • 6 lbs. fresh jumbo chicken wings
  • 8 cups water
  • 1½ Tbsp. smashed garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 3¾ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. whole peppercorns
  • 3 cups potato starch
  • 3 cups cornstarch
  • Original Spice (recipe follows)
    1. Combine the water and spices in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and cool completely before chilling. Once brine is chilled, pour over the chicken wings and cover. Brine 24 hours.

    2. Preheat the fryer to 350º F. Take the chicken wings out of the brine and lightly sprinkle with salt. Fully coat the wings into the cornstarch/potato starch mixture, then carefully place the wings into the hot oil. Cook until crispy and cooked through.

    3. Place the hot chicken wings into a bowl (or bag!) and toss with about 2 tablespoons of the spice mix (or to taste).

Original Spice

Servings: 6

  • ½ cup shishito peppers
  • 7½ Tbsp. garlic powder
  • ¾ Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 7¼ Tbsp. onion powder
  • 4⅓ Tbsp. ground black pepper
  • 2⅛ Tbsp. mustard powder
  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 8¾ Tbsp. Knorr bouillon powder
    1. Preheat the oven to 200º F. Place the whole shishito peppers on a cookie tray and bake until dry and hard, about 1 to 2 hours. Crush with a spice grinder until you have a coarse powder. Combine 5¼ tablespoons of dried shishito pepper with the other spices, and mix thoroughly to combine.


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