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The perfect Chicken Katsu Curry recipe
Chicken Katsu Curry, the traditional Japanese dish served since the late 19th century originally inspired by Western cooking (youshoku), has enjoyed phenomenal success in recent times, with more and more westerners flocking to their local eateries to order this wickedly wonderful taste of Japan.
Yet you don't have to pay the silly sums which some restaurants would have you fork out to enjoy this delectable dish. Other than the curry paste (you can buy this ready-made and indeed most Japanese people do) the main event, the “Katsu” or cutlet is relatively easy to make.
Here’s how you do it –
100g flour, seasoned with lots of salt and pepper
2 large free-range egg, beaten lightly
300g Japanese panko breadcrumbs
2 skin/boneless chicken breasts (butterflied)
100ml groundnut or vegetable oil
steamed Japanese rice with Japanese pickles to serve
Firstly you will want to check the thickness of the chicken. If it’s too thick at one end you will need to “butterfly” it by cutting the under edge of the fillets from the centre towards the outside, being careful not to cut it off completely, and then flatten it out. (Alternatively bashing it a bit with a tenderizer should do the trick.) This is important so that the cutlet cooks evenly throughout!
Set out two plates (with raised edges if you have them as all this can get a bit messy) and one bowl. Fill one plate with 100g of plain flour which has been well seasoned with salt and pepper, the other with 300g of Japanese panko breadcrumbs (letting a baguette go stale and then grating it works brilliantly too). Finally beat your eggs into a bowl.
One fillet at a time, place the chicken into the flour coating every visible part and crevasse of the meat, next move it to the egg bowl and gently drop it in, again coating it fully. Allow any excess egg to drip off before moving it to the breadcrumbs, covering it as much as possible with the panko. At this point you may be thinking that your cutlet is looking a bit undercoated. That’s because it is… One coating never seems to cut it.
So here is the trick to getting that “Perfect Chicken Katsu” DOUBLE COAT IT! This simply means repeating the above steps (except the flour) to form a proper layer of breadcrumbs which will not only be more tasty but will also help in the cooking process. Once again from the top: flour, egg, breadcrumbs, MORE egg and MORE breadcrumbs.
Now that you’ve coated all your chicken with lots of panko you’re ready to fry. Get some oil in a pan and let it get hot. If you cannot tell how hot the oil is from cooking experience it is highly advisable to get a cooking thermometer! Too hot and the bread coating will burn and the chicken won’t cook, not hot enough and the cutlet will become soggy and oily, rather than crisp and cooked through. The ideal temperature is 170°. Don’t skimp on the oil either. You want the whole cutlet to be submerged when you put it in. Even so you will need to turn it over at least once to ensure it cooks properly as the underside will get hit with most of the heat from the hob. (If you have a deep fryer that’s even better, just don’t reuse the oil from last night’s fish and chips or you will end up with fish flavoured katsu curry. Could be the next big thing who knows...)
Japanese Chicken Katsu Curry Recipe Video
If you really want to go to the hassle of making the curry sauce using ingredients you can find recipes for the sauce on The Independent website and various other places. I myself have never even considered wasting my time with preparing the curry from scratch as there are plenty of great Japanese curry roux makers selling their products down my local Asian supermarket. House Foods do a great curry roux called Vermont Curry which comes in three different spice levels.
The one thing I will mention on the subject of the sauce is that, personally, I HATE runny curry on my katsu! It not only tastes watery but makes the katsu far soggier than it would be with a nice thick velvety sauce poured over it. If you have made the mistake of adding too much water to your roux and cannot get it to thicken add some cornflour (even better another cube or two of roux to maintain flavour). You can toss in a potato, a carrot and some onion as you see fit if you want to get some veg in there as well.
How about trying pork instead of chicken? Beef works great as well!
Personally, I also love adding grated cheese as a topping. Yes, CHEESE! I have yet to see this as an optional extra in western restaurants but it is a common extra topping in Japan and a great one at that!
Serve with Japanese rice and Japanese pickles. Fukujinzuke are definitely the best type of Japanese pickle for this top dish.
Douzou o-meshi agare! (Enjoy!)
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