chicken katsu curry
Katsu Curry (katsu karē), like Omu Rice, is a much loved western-style Japanese dish, first introduced to Japan during the Meiji era by the Imperial Japanese Navy who were inspired by a stew the British Navy served with curry powder (India was under the administration of the British at the time). It seems apt therefore, that this is one of the most popular Japanese dishes here in London although places like Wagamama hardly do it justice. B adores it so I make it periodically at home; it’s actually pretty easy to do and tastes so much better homemade. With a bit of grease, a touch of spice and plenty of carbs, it’s also the perfect hangover cure.
To make this you will need to pop down to a Japanese grocer to get the Japanese instant curry roux which come in slabs and vary in spice level from mild to very hot – I tend to go for medium which has hardly any heat to it (the spice rating is not comparable to that of an Indian curry, the Japanese version is much milder). While you are there also get a packet of Panko bread crumbs – they retain less oil when fried, giving a light and extremely crispy coating (you can substitute with standard breadcrumbs but it won’t give quite the same results). Serve your curry with Japanese short-grain rice and pickles – takuan (yellow daikon) and fukujinzuke (red pickles) pair best.
Chicken Katsu Curry
8 skinless chicken thigh fillets
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 block (125g) japanese curry roux*
1 carrot, chopped
2 potatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
oil for deep frying
flour (for dredging)
1 egg, beaten
1 clove garlic
First make the curry. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat and fry the onions and vegetables until coloured and fragrant (about 4-5 minutes). Pour in 850ml (3 1/2 cups) water and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes, until tender.
Take off heat and break the block of curry roux into pieces and add to the saucepan, stirring until the roux has melted. Put back on a low flame and cook on a gentle simmer until thickened (10-15 minutes).
While the curry is finishing off on the stove prepare the chicken. Cut the garlic clove in half and rub the cut end over the fillets. Season each generously with salt and white pepper.
Set up a production line by placing the flour, egg and panko crumbs in three separate bowls. Breadcrumb the chicken fillets by first coating thinly with flour, then dipping in the beaten egg and lastly cover well with panko crumbs, pressing the crumbs in well to make sure they stick.
Heat oil (2 inches deep) in a large pan or wok until hot, then fry the chicken in batches, turning midway, until golden brown and cooked through (about 4-5 minutes). Lift out and drain on kitchen towels.
Once the chicken has cooled to touch, slice each fillet into 2cm wide strips and serve with steamed rice, pickles and a big ladleful of curry sauce (with more to serve at the table).
* I use the House brand’s “Vermont Curry”, S&B and Glico also do similar instant curry roux. The roux is usually split into 2 blocks (packaged separately) and you’ll only need one of them.