Chicken Thigh Katsu Curry

We’ve covered Katsu on this site before. The almost impossibly crisp Japanese style cutlet is a favorite of mine – both as prepared in the previous post, but even more so as a sandwich.  Oh man, katsu sandos are wonderful.

But there’s another common preparation that I left out last time I wrote about chicken thigh katsu:  Katsu Curry.    

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I’ve never been to Japan.  It’s on my bucket list, once we’re allowed to leave our current buckets again.  I was privileged to live for a while in a city with a vibrant Japanese community and even a thriving Japantown area.  When I lived in San Francisco, I’d often spend time in Japantown – a complex of shopping malls and adjacent stores – perusing interesting kitchenwares, shopping for what was some of the best produce in town, and of course …eating.  One of the noodle shops inside one of the mall complexes became a favorite primarily because of one dish: Katsu Curry Udon.

I’ll be honest, the first time I ordered it I had no idea what I was getting.  Despite having attended a university specifically known for it’s Japanese studies program, despite having played Rugby with a number of students both from Japan and with Japanese family and backgrounds – basically saying that I had had more exposure to Japanese culture than a lot of midwestern kids in the 90’s – I didn’t really know all that much about Japanese foods.

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The bowl that arrived at the table was a wonder.  Thick, slick, chewy udon noodles bathed with a yellow brown sauce, studded with vegetables and topped with a crisp fried cutlet. It was both unlike anything I’d ever seen, and unlike anything I expected from my preconceptions of Japanese food. Though I first experienced – and still love – Katsu Curry served with udon, good udon is difficult to make, and (in a pandemic) difficult to find. I most often simply pair my katsu curry with steamed white short grained rice. 

Chicken Thigh Katsu Curry

Recipe by DrewCourse: MainCuisine: JapaneseDifficulty: Medium
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

20

minutes

Japanese style katsu curry with chicken thighs.

Ingredients

  • Curry Sauce
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter

  • 4 tbsp AP flour

  • 4 cups Asian style chicken stock

  • 2 tbsp Japanese Curry Powder

  • 1 small onion

  • 1 medium potato

  • 1 medium carrot

  • Chicken Thigh Katsu
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs

  • 1 cup AP flour

  • 1 tsp kosher salt

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 tbsp water

  • Oil for deep frying

Directions

  • Make the Curry Sauce
  • Peel, trim, and finely dice the onion.
  • Peel, trim, and finely dice the potato.
  • Clean, trim, and finely dice the carrot.
  • In a thick bottomed pan over medium heat, melt the butter.
  • When the butter has stopped foaming, add the flour.
  • Cook, stirring constantly, until the flour and butter mixture turns the color of peanut butter.
  • Add the curry powder and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the vegetables and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the chicken stock, stirring well, and bring to boil, then reduce to a low simmer.
  • Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and the sauce is thickened, about 20 minutes.
  • Serve with Chicken Thigh Katsu cutlets and short grained white rice or udon noodles.
  • Prepare the cutlets
  • Salt the chicken on both sides and allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes.
  • Set up a three-stage breading station. Choose three large, wide bowls. Place the flour in one bowl. In the second, beat the eggs well with water. Put the panko in the third.
  • Dredge the chicken in the flour, dip it in egg wash, and bread it heavily with panko, pressing the crumbs into any crevices.
  • After you have breaded all of the chicken, quickly dip it into the egg again, and then back into the panko to thicken the breading.
  • Place the breaded thighs on a rack on a sheet pan, and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. This will help the breading adhere to the chicken.
  • To finish, prepare a fryer or a thick-bottomed pan with at least 3 inches of oil. Heat the oil to 375°. Deep-fry the cutlets at 350° for about 6 minutes, turning part way through to ensure that the crust forms evenly.
  • To serve, ladle some curry sauce into a bowl with steamed rice, and top with sliced chicken thigh katsu.

Notes

  • You can use commercial curry powders. I generally make my own, and this recipe was developed with a homemade blend intended to mimic S&B. You can also use more traditional curry powders found in groceries, though the flavor will be slightly different.

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