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.
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.
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 CurryCourse: MainCuisine: JapaneseDifficulty: Medium
Japanese style katsu curry with chicken thighs.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.