Chicken Katsu Curry
One of my favourite things to do is try and recreate at home dishes I regularly order when out at a restaurant. This is possibly the best example of that process, where I'm actually at the point where prefer my own version. Katsu Curry is on my list of ultimate comfort foods and feels like a big hug administered via my belly!
Katsu Curry is insanely popular in Japan, and while the dish is closely linked to the country in the popular consciousness it was actually originally viewed there as Western food. Curry was introduced to the country via British traders in the late 19th/early 20th century, coming in turn through their links with India. Props to awesome trivia podcast Good Job Brain for first introducing me to that story. The Katsu portion of the name refers to the fact that the meat is coated in breadcrumbs and is also served as a dish without the curry sauce in the same way schnitzel might be. Katsu Curry can be made with a variety of meats but chicken is my favourite which is why I've included it here.
When making Katsu Curry, most people in Japan will actually use a pre-made roux or powder rather than cooking the sauce from scratch. These are now becoming more readily available in the shops here too, but I still like making it myself. Some also like to use panko breadcrumbs for the meat but I prefer fine or golden breadcrumbs as I think they give a nicer coating and stay more crispy when you pour the sauce over.
Chicken Katsu Curry
c. 1 hour
For the Sauce
2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
1 onion, cubed
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 medium carrots, sliced
2 tablespoons corn flour
2 tbsps curry powder
500ml chicken stock
2 tsp agave syrup or honey
4 tsp soy sauce
2 bay leaves
1 tsp garam masala
For the Chicken
2 chicken breast fillets, flattened to no more than 1 cm thickness
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tbsp plain flour
1 large egg, beaten
c. 100g fine or golden breadcrumbs
a generous amount of sunflower or vegetable oil for frying
- Place the oil in a medium pan over a low-medium heat and add the onions, cook until they start to soften (c. 5 mins).
- Add the carrots and cook for another 5-10 mins until both carrots and onions are soft and starting to colour.
- Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds before adding the cornflour and curry powder, cooking for another 30 sec, stirring continuously.
- Stir in the stock, syrup/honey, and soy sauce, then add the bay leaves. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the sauce reaches the desired consistency.
- When the sauce has simmered for about 10 or so minutes, place the flour, egg and breadcrumbs into separate flat bowls.
- Add enough oil to a frying pan to be about 1 cm deep and place over a medium heat.
- Coat the flattened chicken breasts in the flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs in turn before placing in the frying pan. You may need to cook the chicken in batches to give the pieces enough space, making sure to add additional oil if needed.
- Cook about 2 minutes on each side, until the breadcrumbs turn a golden brown. Then place on a board or plate and pat lightly with a paper towel to remove excess oil.
- At this point, remove the bay leaves from the sauce and add the Garam Masala, cook for another minute before serving.
- It's common to cut the chicken pieces into strips before serving but they can also be placed on the plate whole.
- Serve the chicken and sauce with sushi/Japanese rice, prepared as directed. I like my sauce in a bowl on the side so it doesn't make my chicken soggy. You can also choose whether to serve the veggies in the sauce or to strain them before serving.
To get a nice dome of rice like you be served in a Japanese restaurant, wet the inside of a small bowl (like the one pictured above) and fill with the prepared rice (pack it in reasonably well). Place the serving plate over the bowl and then invert both and remove the bowl.