Chicken Katsu Curry (チキンカツカレー)

Chicken Katsu Curry (チキンカツカレー)

Curry was introduced to Japan by the British over 100 years ago and then adapted to suit the Japanese palate, so it’s quite different from the Indian or Thai curries you may be used to. Japanese curry is generally quite mild which makes it great for people who don’t like or can’t handle spicy foods… although there are certainly some spicy varieties available if you prefer a kick. For this recipe, I used a “medium-hot” S & B Golden Curry (S&B ゴールデンカレー), which I find provides a nice balance of flavor and light warmth. Chicken katsu is prepared in much the same way as tonkatsu, but as chicken tends to be a bit drier than pork you won’t need to double fry the breaded cutlets. For best results, try to use fresh panko (“Nama Panko”), if available. If you can’t buy fresh panko bread crumbs at a Japanese store, lightly spray regular panko with water and leave for 15 minutes. You can refrigerate any leftover chicken katsu (they make a fabulous lunch the next day, and are great in bentos and sandwiches too) by placing it on a paper towel-lined plate to keep the breading crispy (you can stack the cutlets in layers as long as you put paper towels in between them).

This recipe serves four to six.

For the curry:

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large potato
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • 4-5 cubes Japanese curry

For the chicken katsu:

  • 2 chicken breasts (about 1.6 pounds, sliced thin; flattened chicken breast tenders/”scallopini” may also be used)
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • All purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • Panko
  • Oil for deep frying

1. Prepare the curry first. Dice onion and potato before adding them to a large pan half filled with water.
2. Bring the water to boil and then simmer for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
3. Add 4-5 blocks of curry roux to the pot with vegetables and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Keep mixing until the curry sauce is thick and smooth. When thickened, reduce heat to a very low simmer to keep the curry warm while you prepare the chicken katsu.
4. Slice chicken breast into thin cutlets, and season with salt and pepper.
5. Dust chicken with flour, then gently shake to remove excess flour.
6. Beat egg and and oil together (add one tablespoon oil for each egg used- this will help prevent burning); dredge floured chicken in egg mixture.
7. Lastly, dredge the chicken in panko and remove the excess. If you have time, let the chicken sit in the refrigerator for 15 minutes (this will help the panko stick to the chicken better, so you won’t lose all your crunchy crumb coating when you fry the chicken)
8. Heat 1/2 inch of oil in the cast iron skillet. Deep frying oil for Chicken Katsu should be 350F (180C) degree. If you don’t have a thermometer, an easy test to tell if your oil is the right temperature is to drop one panko crumb into oil- if it sinks to the bottom and immediately bubbles back up to the top of the oil, then your oil temperature is around 350F.
9. Put 2-3 pieces of chicken in at a time. If you put too many chicken pieces, the temperature of oil will drop too quickly and the chicken will end up absorbing too much oil.
10. Deep fry until both sides are golden brown, about 5-6 minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack or paper towel-lined tray to remove excess oil (the oil will drain off even better if you hold each piece of katsu vertically for a few seconds before leaving it to finish draining on the rack or towels).
11. Between batches, make sure to skim out extra breadcrumbs. When you don’t pick them up, the breadcrumbs will get burnt and the oil will get darker. Make sure to keep the oil clean throughout deep frying.
12. While the katsu drains and cools a bit on the wire racks, stir in the frozen vegetables (they only need to be brought to serving temperature with the other veggies in the curry).
13. Slice the cooked chicken katsu into strips and lay over a bed of rice before adding the curry sauce and vegetables. You may also top with a bit of katsu sauce, if desired.
14. Enjoy!