When I’m feeling like a bit of a scoff, but can’t afford a takeaway, I cook a chicken katsu curry.
This classic Japanese dish of crisp fried chicken in a rich curry sauce is full of flavour and never fails to satisfy a hungry belly. You may have tried it before in chains like Wagamama’s or Wasabi, but it’s easy to make your own at home.
To do it right use traditional Japanese Panko breadcrumbs and katsu curry sauce (which comes in little cubes which dissolve into a creamy sauce when boiled with water, or as a paste in jars – but I prefer the cubes ). Both are now readily available in some supermarkets but I like to get mine from Asian supermarkets, of which London has an abundance. I always pick up a bag of breadcrumbs and curry sauce whenever I’m in London’s Chinatown so I never run short when a craving strikes.
Try the New Loon Moon oriental supermarket in Chinatown (42-44 Gerrard Street, W1D 5QG). The shop is surprisingly big inside spread across two floors and offers a wondrous range of oriental specialities with Chinese, Japanese and Korean products available. Plenty to peruse and experiment with.
JAPANESE CHICKEN KATSU CURRY
- Two fresh chicken breasts
- Cup and a 1/2 of plain flour
- Two eggs
- Cup and a 1/2 of Panko breadcrumbs – found in some supermarkets and any good Asian supermarket
- Golden curry sauce – found in some supermarkets and any good Asian supermarket
- Set up your workspace with three low set dishes suitable for dipping and coating your chicken. Fill one with plain flour, one with whisked egg and a third with panko breadcrumbs.
- Take your chicken and slice into strips. Not too thin, as you want it to be quite chunky, but slim enough so it will easily cook through when frying.
- Take a strip of chicken and lightly coat in flour shaking off the excess. Then dip the chicken into the egg covering it completely. Finally roll the chicken in panko breadcrumbs. Repeat until all the chicken is panko-ed. (This can be quite messy)
- Heat a generous glug of oil in a pan and set on a medium heat.
- Fry the chicken slowly on both sides turning as necessary until golden and cooked through.
- While the chicken is cooking get your rice boiling in one pan.
- While both your rice and chicken are cooking, break off two cubes of golden curry sauce and put in a pan. Add around 250ml of boiling water slowly and bring to the boil, adding more water if necessary for your preferred consistency. Stir continuously. It should be thick but not glutinous, but not not runny either.
- Take your rice of the boil and if preferred run through with hot water. For presentation I like to then press the rice into a round topped coffee cup and pop out onto plates in a neat mound. Stack the chicken on the plate, pour the sauce over the rice and serve.
Tip: For a vegetarian option, use this same method but substitute the chicken for vegetables such as aubergine, courgette or butternut squash. In all cases slice the veg into 1/2 inch thick rounds and blast in the microwave for about 6 minutes (or until slightly softened) before coating in breadcrumbs. This will mean the veg can be fried quickly without burning, yet still be soft inside.