31 January 2011

Baking Japanese Chicken Katsu Curry with Sugar Snap Pea Salad for FOODalogue's Virtual Journey

Baked Japanese Chicken Katsu Curry
with Sugar Snap Pea Salad

Yokoso (Welcome)!!! We have been travelling on a virtual culinary journey with Joan of FOODalogue for her Culinary Tour 2011. Joan has been travelling virtually wherever her imagination takes us. How about meeting her in any one of her itinerary stops and presenting your interpretation of the cuisine from that destination? Who wouldn't enjoy taking a journey around the world even if it is from the comfort of your favourite armchair?? We have already met up in Panama where we feasted on traditional dishes  and visited the markets, caught our own salmon and alien looking King Crab in Alaska, and traversed the spice markets of Turkey. Next on our stop is...
Japan

If you were asked to think of one Japanese food, what would come to mind? Sushi, raw fish, tempura, tofu? That's what I would think of as well. With Japanese restaurants and Sushi bars popping up all over the world these days Japanese food is no longer considered mysterious. In fact, more and more we are recognizing Japanese food as one of the healthier cuisines. L'il Burnt Toast, the future dietitian, insists on eating sushi like it was going out of style!!!! The traditional Japanese diet is impressively low in cholesterol, fat, and calories, and high in fiber. No wonder residents of Japan have the highest longevity rate.

 When it comes to describing Japanese cuisine in a few words, "natural"  and "harmony" best fits the description. Many devotees of Japanese food speak of the importance of clean flavours and simplicity. Whatever dish you make, never disguise the natural flavour of the ingredients.  Food must be in harmony with nature and the surroundings.  Japanese food is refined and elegant, its preparation and presentation honed over the centuries so its flavours are pure and delicate. The cuisine is all about seasonal ingredients, visual presentation, and authentic flavours. Japanese cuisine has developed over the past 2,000 years with strong influences from both China and Korea. But it is only in the last 300-400 years that all the influences have come together to form what nowadays can be described as Japanese cuisine.


What's a trip to Japan without a culinary tour with Intrepid for their Taste of Japan Tour. Spend 2 weeks visiting the famous Tsukiji Fish Market, feasting on mountain views and traditional cuisine in Takayama, touring a 600-year-old market, combining Zen meditation with great food in Koya-san, challenging your taste buds with fugu pufferfish, experiencing Osaka's neon nightlife, and designing and devouring your own okonomiyaki in Hiroshima.



Like all other cuisines, Japanese food is a product of modern culture. For this challenge I bring to the table Chicken Katsu Curry, the traditional Japanese dish served since the late 19th century which was originally inspired by Western cooking. It is not one of the refined dishes I have been mentioning but there is harmony in flavours. It has enjoyed phenomenal success in recent years, with more and more people worldwide flocking to their local eateries to order this wickedly wonderful taste of Japan.  What makes it stand out from other curries is that the meat is breaded and fried before having a luxurious silky curry sauce slathered all over it.  It’s a family-friendly dish that doesn’t have to be unhealthy – just bake it in the oven instead of deep-frying to cut down on the oil and fat. I served my Chicken Katsu with some steamed Jasmine rice and a sugar snap pea salad. What I loved about this recipe is that I had all of the ingredients in my cupboards already! And as for the salad very refreshing, a great foile for this dish.

Before eating, say "Itadakimasu!" (ee-tah-dah-kee-mahss) which literally means "I humbly receive" and when you're done, say 'Gochisousama deshita!" (Goch-sou-sah-mah-desh-tah) which kind of means "thank you for the meal".  I also ate every grain of rice rather than be been considered impolite, but hey this was too good to leave on my plate!!!!

**Baked Chicken Katsu Curry**

For the chicken

100g flour, seasoned with lots of salt and pepper
2 large free-range egg, beaten lightly
300g Japanese panko breadcrumbs
2 skinless/boneless chicken breasts

For the curry sauce

1 tablespoon groundnut or vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
5 whole garlic cloves, peeled
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons  flour
1 tablespoon medium curry powder
600ml chicken stock
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 bay leaf
half a teaspoon garam masala

*****
Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400 F.

To Make the Chicken: Firstly you will want to check the thickness of the chicken. If it’s too thick at one end you will need to “butterfly” it by cutting the under edge of the fillets from the centre towards the outside, being careful not to cut it off completely, and then flatten it out. (Alternatively use a meat mallet to pound your breast into an even thickness). This is important so that the cutlet cooks evenly throughout! Pat the breasts dry with a paper towel. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.

Set out two plates (with raised edges if you have them as all this can get a bit messy) and one bowl. Fill one plate with 100g of plain flour which has been well seasoned with salt and pepper, the other with 300g of Japanese panko breadcrumbs (letting a baguette go stale and then grating it works brilliantly too). Finally beat your eggs into a bowl.

One fillet at a time, place the chicken into the flour coating every visible part and crevasse of the meat, next move it to the egg bowl and gently drop it in, again coating it fully. Allow any excess egg to drip off before moving it to the breadcrumbs, covering it as much as possible with the panko. At this point you may be thinking that your cutlet is looking a bit undercoated. That’s because it is… One coating never seems to cut it.

So here is the trick to getting that “Perfect Chicken Katsu” DOUBLE COAT IT! This simply means double dipping and repeating a dip into the egg and then panko crumbs to form a proper layer of breadcrumbs which will not only be more tasty but will also help in the cooking process.

Place the breaded chicken onto a pan and bake for 20 minutes until cooked through (if poked with a sharp knife, juices should run clear). If you want the top to brown more, turn on the broiler for the last minute.

To make the sauce: Heat the oil in a small pan. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, then throw in the carrots and sweat slowly for 10 minutes with the lid on, giving the odd stir, until softened and starting to caramelise. Stir in the flour and curry powder and cook for a minute. Slowly pour in the stock until combined (do this gradually to avoid getting lumps). Add the honey, soy sauce and bay leaf and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, so the sauce thickens but is still of pouring consistency. Add the garam masala, then pass the sauce through a sieve (unless you prefer a chunky sauce).

When chicken is ready, let rest for 1 minute, then cut into slices. Drizzle with sauce and serve.


Serves 2

**Sugar Snap Pea Salad**

2 cups sugar snap peas, (8 ounces), trimmed
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/2 large red bell pepper, cut into 1 1/2-inch-long slivers
*********************
Cook peas in lightly salted boiling water in a medium saucepan until tender-crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water.

Whisk vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add scallions, bell pepper and the peas; toss to coat. Serve within 1 hour.

Sayonara!!!

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28 comments:

  1. Dear Valli this look amazing and delicious, huggs gloria

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  2. Looks delicious, Val. I really wish I shared this meal with you!

    I loved your second paragraph under "Japan". It so well describes the experience of Japanese cuisine and culture.

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  3. This looks wonderful. My favourite local Japanese restaurant (one that served more than sushi) became a Korean one. Truly miss trying new and different Japanese dishes. This looks lovely.

    j

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  4. I love how you put your heart and soul into everything you do and I really don't know how you do all you do! I LOVE everything Japanese. All food. Raw, cooked, alive or dead!
    This looks so lovely and like something I could actually make without a panic attack. I am putting this on my list, as the flavours here are fairly safe and my picky carnivore would love it, too!
    :)
    Valerie

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  5. I love Japanese curry and serving it on top of a piece of breaded chicken sounds divine and absolutely perfect!

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  6. That dish must taste wonderful! I rarely cook Japanese food...

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  7. This looks like it would be right up my alley. I'm wondering if I could pull the sauce off with Grumpy? He insists he doesn't like curry but I have snuck it in and he hasn't complained!

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  8. When I started reading your post I thought "it won't be on our table soon" since I did the big pre-snow shopping yesterday. Imagine my surprise to find that I have every ingredient on hand except groundnut oil. I hope we aren't snowed in long enough to try all the recipes I've planned!!! But this will certainly gain a place soon. I really must check out Foodalogue!

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  9. This is a lovely dish. I did contract work in Japan before my retirement and am familiar with this dish. Your recipe for it is terrific. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

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  10. I really appreciate Japanese food in so many ways. I do however confess to not realizing that either curry or garam masala could be used in this cuisine...very interesting.
    I wouldn't mind having a few or more bites of this lovely dish ;o)

    Ciao for now,
    Claudia

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  11. Yes, yes Val. Way too good to leave any on the plate. Beautiful presentation of the chicken.
    Sam

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  12. My kids loooooove chicken katsu. I'll have to give this recipe a go.

    New to your site. Love it here already. Can't wait to poke around some more.

    Lots of yummy love,
    Alex aka Ma What's For Dinner
    www.mawhats4dinner.com

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  13. Yay! Foodalogue is back!

    I'm glad you chose chicken katsu. It's one of my favorite things to order in Japanese restaurants. If it's done right the chicken is satisfyingly crispy and the sauce is always a perfect foil for it.

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  14. Looks so delicious! Japanese is one of my favourite cuisines!

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  15. I really like that the chicken is baked. And the sauce sounds very interesting. With the green tea ice cream I made recently as dessert, we can have a very nice meal, don't you think?

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  16. What a wonderful looking dinner.

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  17. this is making me very hungry! yum:)

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  18. I love chicken katsu, but I especially love this baked version.

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  19. I do love Japanese cuisine, Val. And I am always so impressed with the presentation. Never fails to be pleasing to the eye, beautifully decorative and so delicious and fresh. At least at the better restaurants.
    Your Chicken Katsu Curry looks so lovely and the flavors sound marvelous. I don't think of curry too often when I think of Japanese food, either.
    Your photos do it justice, Val!

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  20. I love chicken katsu although I don't think I've had it baked, so loving the recipe. I really love good Japanese food, but a bit over the endless sushi bar version.

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  21. Love that it's baked! I only eat it out so it's nice to have an easier version for making at home.

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  22. I love chicken katsu, and this baked version is particularly appealing. I like that you added garam marsala, it must add an intriguing touch.

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  23. Chicken Katsu curry is my dish of choice when I visit japan...love that you have included a baked version here Val! And as usual. you have covered many aspects of japanese culture brilliantly in your post...cheers!

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  24. ah, the double coat technique. very nice homage to japan, val!

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  25. I've learned so much from your post - I realise how little I know about Japanese cuisine and I'm going to explore much more since this virtual visit. Your curry sauce, Japanese style, is the most appetising I've found - I couldn't face cooking any of the others.

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  26. Katsu and Curry are really favourite lunch dishes in Japan, you choose well and it looks delicious, too.

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  27. The curry sauce sounds amazing! What a tasty dish this must be. I'm saving a copy to try soon!

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  28. Hi Val, I'd like to eat your chicken katsu Curry and then say:
    Gochisousama deshita!
    I wouldn't leave a grain of rice, too :-)

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Welcome to my home. Thank you so much for choosing to stay a while and for sharing our lives through food. I appreciate all your comments, suggestions, daily encouragement and support.

Val

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