Friday, February 1, 2008

chicken cutlet katsu

The other night (I'm a little behind with the food posting) we had Japanese style curry with chicken katsu. I felt like I had a domestic victory over the Japanese curry houses around my neighborhood. My chicken katsu was arguably better than theirs! Whoo-hoo!

Pretty carrots from the farmer's market.

I think it had to do with the Panko. Have you ever used it? It's a super crisp bread crumb and I highly recommend it if you plan to do any sort of Japanese-y deep fry. I'm already planning future uses for butterflied shrimp and pork katsu. I used it once before to disastrous results and I think the key is to make sure you dredge the meat (or veggie, I suppose) first in flour, then dip in an egg batter, then roll in the panko. I was pretty firm with my panko rolling methods, trying to get as much of the crumbs to stick as possible.

We are the other veggies ready for our turn in the pan.

Since the rest of the meal is fairly simple, I didn't feel like it needed a written out recipe. I basically chopped up a bunch of veggies for the stew. It's really more like a stew, I think. Carrots, celery, onions, potatoes and broccoli are my favorite to use for Japanese curry.

A colorful sautee.

The secret sauce.

And sauteed everything except the broccoli in olive oil with some chopped garlic of course. Usually I use canola or sesame seed oil with Asian cooking. Bu I don't think the olive oil flavor will be detected since the curry flavor is so strong. And I prefer olive oil for its health benefits.

After all the veggies are more or less tender, I add water (add as much water as you want there to be curry broth, I like extra broth so my stew is a little soupy, but the curry sauce thickens it nicely) and the curry which I like to chop up a little to help dissolve faster in the water. I used Golden Curry which is a package of curry molds. You know, I've never made my own curry (japanese or otherwise) from scratch. Something to think about... Anyways, I grew up with Golden Curry and it makes for a quick dinner so I continue to use it.

A trio of baths for the chicken cutlet.

When the curry has dissolved, I turn the heat down a bit and stir occasionally until all the veggies are fork tender. That's when I threw in some broccoli florets and covered the pan. I should have blanched or steamed the broccoli first, but I was worried about them being too limp. As it was, the broccoli was slightly undercooked. So maybe next time I'll steam the broccoli and add it to the stew as I serve. Oh well.

The magic crumbs that made everything happen.

The nice thing about this dish is that it can just sit and wait while I make other things. I started the rice first so that it could sit and wait during the curry-making. Then when the curry was more or less done, I worked on the chicken katsu. A three bowl system helps make it easier. Such a shame to throw out the unused egg, flour and panko, feels wasteful, but I can't very well save it. That wouldn't be healthy.

Sizzle, sizzle.

I do fry the katsu in canola oil. I found some High Heat canola oil from Whole Foods. How cool. I feel so profesh'. I think I let each side fry for about 3 minutes, but I can't remember. And so as not to go overboard (M and I sometimes get a little crazy with our portions, or rather we go back for seconds and thirds and fourths a little too much), I cooked only one tenderized chicken breast for the two of us. (Are we the only ones that call them chicken boobies sometimes? Sorry. Just a little juvenile kitchen humor.) One chicken booby was plenty for the both of us by the way.

Take that, Hurry Curry.

Mmmmm. Served with steamed rice. I tried organic Japanese brown rice for the first time. Which was a little strange since the rice looks about as white as any rice I've cooked. Bought at my Japanese market when I was in search of Spam. I've always cooked with some variety of Asian brand short grain white rice (that's a lot of descriptors!), but I've never tried this kind before. It's supposed to be really good for sushi and I really enjoy it. It's got a great mouth-feel to it as you chew. The grains are short and chewy, not too glutinous, but not so dry like I feel jamine or basmati rice can be. It's kinda fun to eat, if that makes any sense.

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