There used to be a Wagamama’s restaurant in Zurich which we really enjoyed visiting, often to satisfy my cravings for ramen, but mostly because they had a great kids’ menu and a little play area for the children. It was one of the few places in Zurich where we could go and enjoy our meal without the fear of our noisy children disturbing everyone (because everyone else had also brought along their own rowdy offspring).
One dish which my son absolutely loved was their chicken katsu curry. The children’s portion was comprised simply of a crumbed chicken breast fillet, sliced and served alongside a bowl of rice with some shredded cucumber, with a little dish of curry sauce on the side. Our son has always been a picky eater, but this was one dish which he always ate happily and without any bribery required.
Since the restaurant closed its doors, much to our dismay, we have yet to find another place which offers delicious food with a true family atmosphere. Sure there are more authentic Japanese restaurants which we could frequent, but none which we would be comfortable visiting with our crazy tiny tots.
Crumbed chicken features on the menu at home once in a while, which I typically serve with a homemade herby mayonnaise and boiled potatoes. But the idea came to me one evening to try and make a Japanese-style curry sauce to transform our usual crumbed chicken into a chicken katsu curry.
The curry sauce happens to be very easy to make, not least because a good-quality chicken stock will do most of the work for you.
But what I think is an essential ingredient to a Japanese curry sauce is a Japanese curry powder. Many recipes will simply state “curry powder” as an ingredient, but this is terribly unhelpful because curry powders vary in composition of spices, and what is typical to an Indian curry, for example, will hit the wrong note in a Japanese dish. So it is worth visiting a Japanese grocery store to buy an authentic Japanese curry powder. I use one called S&B Spicy Curry Powder, which comes in a very English-looking small red tin, and although I think it is quite spicy (as suggested in the name), my young children don’t seem to mind.
As I always try to squeeze in vegetables where I can, I like to add chopped carrots to the sauce; they add some sweetness and make the overall dish a bit more hearty. I’ve also added frozen peas to the sauce, but I’m sure purists would think this would be too far a digression. If you prefer to have a more traditional and thin curry sauce, simply strain the sauce and discard all of the solids.
Despite the list of ingredients in this recipe, believe it or not, it is now one of my stand-by dishes for during the busy week. Who can resist the combination of fried crumbed chicken with curry sauce?!
- For the curry sauce
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 brown onion, finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, diced small
- 3-4 heaped teaspoons Japanese curry powder
- 500 ml (2 cups) chicken stock
- 2 dessert apples
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 4 teaspoons cornflour mixed in a little water to make a slurry
- For the crumbed chicken
- 4 small chicken breasts or 12 small chicken tenderloins
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or other mustard
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 2-3 cups panko breadcrumbs
- vegetable oil for frying
- Togarashi spice for serving
- Make the sauce first. Heat the oil in a small saucepan and sauté the onions, garlic and carrots until they have softened.
- Add the curry powder and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the stock and bring the saucepan to a gentle simmer.
- Peel the apples and coarsely grate them into the sauce.
- Add the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and sugar.
- Simmer gently for about 30 minutes.
- Strain the sauce into another saucepan. If you wish to keep your sauce textured, keep the solids in the strainer. Otherwise, if you wish to have a smooth sauce, discard the solids (although it would be a shame to throw away the carrots!).
- Bring the saucepan to a simmer and quickly whisk in some of the cornflour mixture. You may not need all of it. Alternatively, you may need to make more. Add enough cornflour mixture until the sauce has thickened to your liking.
- Taste the sauce for seasoning. Return the solids in the strainer to the sauce, if you are using them.
- Meanwhile, prepare the chicken. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the egg, mustard, salt and pepper. In another shallow bowl, place the panko breadcrumbs.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan, enough to shallow fry the chicken (about 1cm height of oil).
- Dip the chicken first into the egg mixture, and then thoroughly coat the chicken with the panko breadcrumbs.
- Cook the chicken in the oil until lightly golden on each side.
- Serve the chicken with some steamed Jasmine rice and some curry sauce poured over the rice and chicken.
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