Katsu Curry

I have great memories of an amazing trip I made a few years ago to Tokyo.  It was a work trip but there was some time in the evenings to explore the Japanese culture and cuisine.  I started to cook katsu curry after this trip as I tried it in a restaurant in the Tokyo Tower.  Katsu curry is the ultimate comfort food as far as I am concerned. Crunchy bread crumbed chicken or pork, smooth curry sauce and rice.

There is an interesting background to curry in Japan.  It is said that curry was spread to Japan from the west at the end of the Edo period after the ports re-opened, and that the first curry recipe was introduced to Japan in 1872. After 200 years of seclusion, the whole nation was keen to embrace western culture, and food was no exception. However, curry and rice was an expensive gourmet dish and could cost eight times more than a typical local dish.  However, it rapidly gained popularity.

In the 1910s, the recipe for Japanese curry and rice was invented, featuring onions, carrots and potatoes as ingredients. This recipe was adopted by the Japanese army because of its nutritional value and ease of cooking. In 1923, Minejiro Yamazaki (founder of S&B Foods Inc.) was determined to develop a Japanese curry powder. After much trial and error, he finally succeeded in his goal. Today, every family has curry powder at home.

Today there are many varieties of curry eaten in the Japanese home and in their restaurants and katsu curry is very popular.  Traditionally made from bread crumbed pork served with curry sauce and rice, the recipe I want to show you uses chicken. It is actually taken from The Hairy Bikers’ Great Curries book:

Ingredients
(Serves 4)

4 x 175g boneless, skinless chicken breasts
50g plain flour
1 large egg
100g Japanese panko breadcrumbs or dry white breadcrumbs
100ml sunflower oil or groundnut oil

Sauce

2 medium onions, roughly chopped
25g chunk of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tbsp medium curry powder
1 tsp ground star anise
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
20g plain flour
500ml chicken stock (made with 1 chicken stock cube)
2 tsp tomato purée
freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. First make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan and add the chopped onions.
  2. Cover with a lid and gently fry the onions for 8–10 minutes until well softened, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove the lid, increase the heat a little and cook for 3 minutes more, stirring often, until the onions are pale golden brown. Reduce the heat, add the ginger and garlic and simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir the curry powder, star anise, turmeric and a few twists of ground black pepper into the onions. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle over the plain flour and stir well. Gradually add the chicken stock, stirring constantly until it is all incorporated. Add the tomato purée and bring to a simmer, then cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and blitz with a stick blender until smooth. If you don’t have a stick blender, let the sauce cool for a few minutes and blend in a food processor until smooth. Cover with cling film and set aside while you prepare the chicken.

Chicken

  1. One at a time, place the chicken breasts on a board and cover with cling film. Bash the thickest part of the chicken with a rolling pin until the pieces have an even depth – just under 2cm.
  2. Sift the flour on to a large plate.
  3. Beat the egg in a medium bowl with a metal whisk until smooth.
  4. Sprinkle half the breadcrumbs over a small tray.
  5. Take a chicken breast and dust it in the flour.
  6. Shake off any excess and dip it straight into the beaten egg, then coat it in the breadcrumbs until evenly covered.
  7. Put the chicken breast on a tray whilst  you coat the rest.
  8. If you have time, chill for 30-60 minutes as this helps the coating to ‘set’

Final cooking

  1. Pour the oil into a deep non-stick frying pan and set over a medium heat.
  2. Be careful not to overheat the oil and do not leave it unattended!
  3. Using tongs, lower the chicken breasts gently into the hot oil.  Cook for 5-6 minutes on either side to give a nice golden brown colour and to cook the chicken.
  4. Keep these chicken breasts warm whilst you cook the others.
  5. Five minutes before the chicken breasts are ready, take the cling film off the sauce and re-heat over a low heat and bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes.
  6. Slice the chicken breasts thickly and serve on warmed plates with steamed rice  and some hot sauce.  Serve immediately.

Tip 1: if you want to make this dish healthier, you could oven bake the chicken for about 20 -25 minutes @ 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4.

Tip 2: to enhance presentation, serve the curry sauce in individual sauce jugs.

 

 

 

 

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Shortbread rounds

My last blog was lemon syllabub and I did suggest you could serve it with ginger biscuits.  However this recipe for shortbread rounds is also perfect to serve with lemon syllabub.  The sweet crunch contrasts nicely with the lemon creaminess of the syllabub and complements it beautifully.  You can cut these into rounds or if you prefer fluted rounds or fingers, or whatever you prefer.

It is said that Scottish shortbread developed from medieval biscuit bread, which was a twice-baked, enriched bread roll dusted with sugar and spices and hardened into a rusk (soft, sweetened biscuit). After a time butter was substituted for yeast, and shortbread was born. Since butter was such an important ingredient, the word “shortbread” derived from shortening. Shortbread may have been made as early as the 12th Century, however its invention is often attributed to Mary, Queen of Scots in the 16th Century. Petticoat tails were a traditional form of shortbread said to be enjoyed by the queen.  Originally shortbread was considered a luxury and only enjoyed during special celebrations or Christmas.

Ingredients (makes 20-24 shortbread)

125g/4oz butter
55g/2oz caster sugar, plus extra to finish
180g/6oz plain flour

Method

Heat the oven to 170C fan/190C/375F/Gas 5.

  1. Beat the butter and the sugar together until smooth.
  2. Stir in the flour to get a smooth paste. Turn on to a work surface and gently roll out until the paste is 1cm/½in thick.
  3. Cut into rounds or fingers and place onto a baking tray. Sprinkle with caster sugar and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  4. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until pale golden-brown. Set aside to cool on a wire rack.
  5. If desired you can sprinkle a little more sugar on after they come out of the oven.
  6. Enjoy!

Tip: this recipe could come in very handy if you want to make a homemade gift.

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