”Katsu curry, a crunchy, breadcrumbed-and-fried fillet served with a special curry sauce, is a favourite across Japan. It’s traditionally made with pork but can be made with chicken breast too. Each family and restaurant has their own variation, some adding fruit, extra spices and herbs to the sauce, depending on their taste. The sauce is usually mildly spiced but at some restaurants you can select your spice level – so it can be extremely hot. Ultra-crisp Japanese panko breadcrumbs are key to the recipe; the bigger the crumbs, the crisper and better the result.” – Fah Sundravorakul, co-founder of Japanese restaurant Yamagoya
You will need:
- 400g sushi rice
- 2 large free-range chicken breasts
- 40g cornflour
- 4 medium free-range eggs, beaten
- 2 x 150g packs panko breadcrumbs
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
- Sesame seeds to serve
For the curry sauce
- ½ large carrot
- 100g potato
- ½ medium onion
- 3 tbsp dark soy sauce (or to taste)
- ½ tsp garam masala powder
- 40g Japanese curry roux
This recipe serves 4. Hands-on time 1 hour 20 min, simmering time 40 min, plus soaking.
Make the curry sauce up to 3 days head, then cover and chill. Reheat to serve.
Japanese curry roux is the secret to katsu curry. You can make it yourself but the ready-made blocks give an excellent result. Buy them from Asian food stores and online. We used S&B Japanese Golden Curry Sauce Mix – Medium Hot, from Waitrose, Ocado and japancentre.com.
Fah’s tips for katsu curry success
- Use the largest panko crumbs you can find. Larger breadcrumbs give a crisper texture to the chicken fillets when they’re deep-fried.
- If you’d like to add some sweetness to the dish, you can add cubed apple when you’re boiling the potato and carrot (step 2). I tend to use green apple.
- To tenderise meat, it’s useful to invest in a meat tenderiser, but if you don’t have one, use the tip of a sharp knife to pierce the chicken breasts all over.
1. Rinse the sushi rice in a sieve under cold running water until the water runs clear. Put the rice in a bowl, cover with cold water and leave to soak for 20-30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, for the sauce, bring 450ml water to the boil. Chop the carrot and potato into 1cm cubes, then chop the onion. Add the chopped carrot and potato to the boiling water. After 5 minutes add the onion and boil for 10 minutes more, constantly skimming the water with a large metal spoon to remove any scum.
3. Remove the cooked veg with a slotted spoon (reserve the cooking water) and put in a blender or food processor. Whizz to a fine purée.
4. Mix the vegetable purée, soy sauce and garam masala into the pan of reserved vegetable cooking water until combined. Cook over a medium heat until the mixture comes to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Turn off the heat and wait for 5 minutes, then stir in the curry roux until it melts completely. You may need to add a splash of water to loosen the sauce if it thickens too much – it should be a spoonable consistency. Keep warm on a very low heat until needed.
6. Cook the rice according to the packet instructions. Heat a deep, heavy-based frying pan with about 5cm oil until it reaches 180°C on a digital probe thermometer (or until a cube of bread sizzles and browns in about 30 seconds).
7. Meanwhile, slice each chicken breast in half horizontally to make 2 thinner fillets. Use a meat tenderiser or the tip of a sharp knife to tenderise the chicken. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.
8. Put the cornflour, eggs and panko breadcrumbs in 3 separate shallow bowls/containers. First coat the chicken in cornflour, then in beaten egg, then finally in the panko breadcrumbs, pressing down firmly to make sure there’s a good coating of crumbs sticking to the fillet.
9. Fry the breadcrumbed fillets in the hot oil, one at a time, for 4-5 minutes until golden and the chicken is cooked through. Transfer to a board or tray lined with kitchen paper to drain, then keep warm in a low oven. Once all the chicken breasts are cooked, slice each one into thin strips.
10. Divide the cooked rice among 4 plates and arrange the sliced chicken next to the rice. Spoon the katsu sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with sesame seeds to serve.