Kinako, or roasted soybean powder, has a marvelous nutty aroma between peanuts and hazelnuts, and it's a classic seasoning for traditional Japanese confections like mochi and dango.
I've always been a rule breaker, though, and when something is typically used a certain way, I often wonder what would happen if I flipped its role. That's how I found myself dusting these bite-sized nuggets of chicken with the Japanese equivalent of cocoa powder. Marinating the chicken with sake and salt infuses a ton of umami into the savory meat, making a delightful contrast to the nutty kinako crust.
The kinako-crusted chicken turned out pretty amazing on its own, but after taking a bite, I thought of an even more crazy idea. When used in dessert, kinako is almost always paired with kuromitsu (literally black syrup). I'm a big fan of drizzling a little honey on my KFC, and I couldn't help but wonder what a drizzle of this earthy syrup would do for the chicken.
LOTS, as it turns out! The sweetness adds another dimension bringing the salty chicken and nutty soybean flour into balance, and the dish ends up tasting even more Japanese (think earthy teriyaki).
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