I’ve always loved curry – from my mother’s curried sausages I ate as a child, I soon discovered a more diverse range of curries – creamy, nutty Indian lamb kormas, spicy fresh green Thai curries, and earthy Malaysian rendangs.
It was a few years ago now that I tried my first Japanese chicken katsu curry, at a little shop in Bondi Junction called Ichiban Boshi. I was immediately hooked on the sweet, mild, glossy curry poured on the crispy panko breaded chicken. Now, I try katsu curry whenever I can, and last night I had a go at creating my own.
I researched methods for creating the perfect katsu curry sauce, but found that the majority of Japanese households, (and indeed, many restaurants) use instant curry roux because the chicken katsu curry recipe calls for around 35 different spices, all ground by hand – and I think Sweet Brown said it best: “Ain’t nobody got time fo’ that.”
Sold in blocks, this concentrated curry is simply melted into hot water and simmered to the perfect consistency. According to Wikipedia, curry sauce is the largest single category of vacuum-sealed foods in Japan.
The most widely-sold instant Japanese curry sauce on the market is S&B Golden Curry, so I picked some up on my last visit to Hoo Hing, along with Japanese panko crumbs to coat my chicken fillet pieces.
Panko, interestingly, is made from bread baked by passing an electric current through the dough. Electrified bread! This method, apparently, means that the panko crumb coating resists absorbing oil when fried, resulting in a lighter and crispier finish. Cool, huh?
Sadly, I wasn’t able to get my hands on any Japanese short-grain rice to eat alongside my chicken katsu curry, and had to make to with regular long-grain white rice, but I don’t think the dish suffered too much.
I really enjoyed this meal. Next time, I’d probably add more vegetables – onion and carrot – to the curry sauce mix. I’d also track down some proper Japanese short-grain rice for authenticity, but otherwise it was great!
Now that I’ve conquered panko breading, I want to panko EVERYTHING! I think this lovely crispy coating would go so well on seabass pieces, accompanied by a salad for a fresh summer meal. Already looking forward to using this method again.
A good friend of mine who strictly follows a gluten-free diet tells me that you can get gluten-free panko crumbs, so when paired with GF flour, it makes for a great way to enjoy that breaded taste.
Next time I’d like to try and create this Japanese katsu curry sauce from scratch, so if anyone has a tried-and-tested recipe, then please let me know!