When you say Japanese cuisine, most people will think of sushi or ramen. There are so many more delicious dishes and sushi is not commonly prepared at home, and is usually something you’d go out for. Japanese curries are commonly made at home. You can even buy the easy sauce, but we’re gonna do it properly here. This is my recipe for chicken katsu curry.
My son Tom loves a variety of Asian cultures. Specifically South Korean and Japanese. So whenever I make a dish from either of those countries his face just lights up and he is so insanely happy. It doesn’t hurt that everyone else think it’s super tasty too.
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What is the history of curries in Japan?
While everybody in the rest of the world is eating ramen, sushi, sashimi or even sukiyaki most people in Japan will eat a curry more often. The most popular version of a Japanese curry is a katsu (literally cutlet). The cutlet is made from flattened panko breaded pork or chicken.
Curries in Japan dates back to the late 1800’s. Legend has it that an English sailor shipwrecked and was picked up by a Japanese fishing boat. With him he had curry powder and that’s how the curry powder was introduced in Japan.
The non mythical version is probably more that it was introduced by the British navy or British traders. So while the spices in curry originate in the Indian subcontinent, it’s really the British version of curry that spread to Japan. That also explains why the Japanese curry isn’t spicy, but more comforting in taste.
What makes panko special in this Chicken Katsu Curry recipe?
When making katsu there are a couple of things at must be observed. The cutlets need to be made from pork or chicken. They need to be flattened so that the cooking time is relatively equal for the entire piece of meat Lastly, the cutlet most be coasted in panko breadcrumbs before it is fried.
In western cooking breadcrumbs are not unknown. In Denmark we have a pork/veal patty which some people will bread or add breadcrumbs to the patty. Wiener Schnitzel (literally Viennese cutlet) is a cousin of the katsu, but it is made from veal and coated in regular breadcrumbs.
The panko breadcrumbs are made from a special bread which has is prepared by passing electricity through the bread instead of baking. This method was invented by the Japanese during World War II when ovens weren’t available for the army cooks.
It’s grated at an angle instead of just crushed willy-nilly, so the individual panko breadcrumbs are longer than normal breadcrumbs.
Because of this, panko is both crunchier and lighter then regular breadcrumbs, and they resist soaking up fats much better than regular breadcrumbs. That means a crunchier texture and less chance of a soggy breading. If you like crunchy food, panko is worth it’s weight in gold. Fortunately it’s much cheaper than that.
The choices I’ve made in this Chicken Katsu Curry recipe
Traditionally the curry sauce is made using a roux. A roux is very commonly used in French cuisine where the fat in the roux is butter (Mmmh… Butter!), but really a roux just a mixture of equal weights fat and wheat flour, which is then roasted in a pan. The roux acts as a thickening agent.
I’ve chosen to thicken the sauce with corn starch, which makes for a lighter but equally delicious sauce. The good thing about corn starch is that, opposite using flour, it doesn’t have to be cooked out. Once it’s thick, you’re good to go.
I’ve chosen to serve this dish with a Japanese inspired salad. It’s not traditional in any sense of the word, but I just like to get a bit of crunch and acid to juxtapose the thick, umami-rich and sweet sauce. It’s a good combo.
I think this is a dish that will make most people happy, kids or adults alike. Give it a go, it’s super easy to make.
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This is my recipe for chicken katsu curry. I hope you will try to make it. If you make this recipe and post it to Instagram, please tag med as @foodgeek.dk so I can see it. That will make me very happy.
Chicken Katsu Curry
- 4 chicken breasts
- 2 eggs
- 1 onion, large
- ginger, thumb sized piece
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp curry powder, medium
- 500 ml chicken stock
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 pinch cane sugar
- 1 carrot
- 100 g snap peas
- 2 spring onions US: scallions
- coriander, good handful US: cilantro
- 1 lime
- 250 g rice
- 450 g water
Prepare all the vegetables
- Chop the onion finely.
- Peel and chop the garlic cloves.
- Peel the ginger with a teaspoon and chop it finely.
- Peel the carrot and slice it into ribbons using your slicer.
- Slice the sugar snaps finely on a bias.
- Slice the spring onions on a bias.
- Pick the leaves off a good handful of coriander.
- Cut the lime in half, and cut one of the halves into wedges.
Prepare the chicken
- Flatten the chicken breasts by bashing on them using a rolling pin (or a frying pan, Jamie Oliver-style)
- Prepare three bowls: one with wheat flour, one with two eggs, lightly beaten and one with panko bread crumbs.
- Take a chicken bread and dip it in flour and dust it off.
- Dip it in egg. Make sure there's egg all over the surface.
- Dip it in panko bread crumbs and put it in a plate.
- Repeat with the other 3 chicken breasts.
Cook the rice
- Put the rice and the water in a pot, add a good pinch of salt.
- Bring the water to the boil and put the lid on and turn down the heat so that the it simmers.
- Let it simmer for 12 minutes. Then take it off the heat and let it rest for at least 12 minutes.
Make the sauce (while the rice is cooking)
- Mix 2 tbsp of corn starch with 2 tbsp of water.
- Heat a lug of oil in a pot over medium heat and add the curry to bloom it.
- Add the onion, garlic and ginger and fry for a couple of minutes until softened.
- Add the chicken bouillon and bring to the boil.
- While stirring pour in some of the corn starch slurry. Let is simmer for about 30 seconds.
- Check the thickness of the sauce and pour in more slurry if you want it thicker.
- Add soy sauce and a pinch of sugar and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
- If you want the sauce smooth, give it a blitz or three with your hand blender.
Fry the chicken breasts
- Heat a good amount of oil in a frying pan. It should cover the entire bottom of the pan.
- Fry the chicken breasts about 5 minutes on each side, or until they are cooked through.
- Cut each chicken breast in slices.
Prepare the salad
- Add all the ingredients for the salad into a small bowl and squeeze the half lime over the salad.
- Mix the salad with your hands (or tongs if you are so inclined).
Work the plate
- Put rice in a little bowl push it down with a spoon. Turn it out onto the plate.
- Add the chicken on top of the rice mountain and pour over a good glug of curry sauce.
- Arrange the salad on the place and place a lime wedge for some more tang.
I am crazy about food, cakes, snacks and everything in between. I love to do tons of experiments to find the best recipe, so that you don’t have to.