This nation’s favourite Katsu curry is so popular and undoubtedly one of the best Japanese dishes I have had. It is all about the curry sauce which packs so much flavours that you do not need anything else adding to the dish. Serve it with steamed rice and salad on the side.
What is a Katsu curry
A Katsu is essentially vegetable slices or chicken cutlets coated in Japanese panko breadcrumbs, then fried. Unlike most curries, the Japanese curry sauce is made separately, then poured over the crispy katsu. This dish is commonly served with steamed rice and a salad on the side. I have made katsu curry a number times to get the right balance of ingredients, just like the most popular dish at Wagamama’s British restaurant chain. It all comes down to the flavourful curry sauce. Get it right and you will be in Wagamama heaven in the comfort of your home!
Ingredients that make the curry sauce
Curry powder: Use any curry powder you have in your pantry. I prefer mine medium hot.
Turmeric: Turmeric enhances the flavour of the curry sauce and gives it this bright yellow colour.
Onions: An important part of the sauce, it adds flavour but also helps thicken the sauce.
Garlic and ginger: The correct amount of ginger and garlic is needed to make the sauce. Do not overpower it by adding too much of it.
Flour: It helps thicken the sauce.
Stock: In this recipe I have used stock melt and added water. Use stock cubes or vegetable/chicken stock as an alternative.
Coconut milk: The creamy texture of a Katsu curry is achieved by adding coconut milk. It also adds richness to the sauce.
Soy sauce: Soy sauce is what gives the curry this authentic Japanese taste.
Honey and sugar: A Japanese curry tastes sweeter but is generally less spicy than an Indian curry. The honey and sugar adds the sweet element to the dish.
Chicken or vegetable katsu
If you are using chicken, use the breast as it fries quicker and you do not want to burn the breadcrumbs by frying it for too long. Cut the chicken breast along the middle. Alternatively place the knife almost parallel to the chopping board, and slice the chicken breast in a diagonal cut. This will give more surface area for the chicken to fry and the slices will be thin enough for frying.
The most popular vegetables used for making katsu are aubergines and sweet potato. Slice the aubergines 1 cm thick before coating and frying. I have found that aubergines absorb a lot of oil when frying. I tend to bake the panko-coated slices in the oven at 180c for 15-20 minutes. If you are using sweet potatoes, slice it 0.5 cm thick so it is cooked and soft in the middle by the time the breadcrumbs turn golden brown.
Great tips for making the best katsu curry
- Start by making the sauce. You can make it well ahead of time and store it in the fridge, or freeze it for later use. The sauce is the star of the show. When poured over the katsu or rice, it should be thick enough to coat the dish. Too thin and the rice and katsu will absorb the sauce and the whole dish will become soggy.
- Blend the sauce after it is cooked. This will help thicken the sauce. If you find that it is too thin add some flour to thicken it to the right consistency.
- Slice the chicken or vegetables thinly. Thin slices cook faster and prevent the breadcrumbs from burning.
- Fry the chicken or vegetable slices over medium heat. Too high heat and the panko breadcrumbs will brown too much and the chicken or vegetables will remain raw inside.
- Drain the fried slices on kitchen towel before serving. This will help absorb excess oil.
How to store katsu curry sauce
The curry sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge before reheating in the microwave or in a pan.
Katsu Curry Inspired by Wagamama
For the curry sauce
- 2 medium onions chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 thumb ginger minced
- 2 tbsp curry powder heaped
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 300 ml vegetable stock or chicken stock
- 100 ml coconut milk
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
For the katsu
- 50 g panko breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs
- 100 g plain flour
- vegetable oil for shallow frying
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 medium sweet potato or 1 aubergine or 350g chicken breast
- 250 g steamed jasmine rice
- 1 carrot finely grated
- chopped coriander leaves for garnishing
- Make the curry sauce: Add oil to a heated pan and sweat the onions for 2 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic, and stir for 30 seconds. Reduce the heat and stir in the turmeric and curry powder, and cook for a few minutes until fragrant, making sure the spices do not burn. Add the flour and stir well to coat. Gradually add the stock while stirring continuously until the sauce thickens. Add the coconut milk, then the soy sauce, sugar and honey. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. When cooked turn off the heat and blend the sauce until smooth.
- Make the katsu: Slice the aubergine 1cm or sweet potato 0.5cm thick. If using chicken slice it thinly through the middle. Dredge the slices in flour, then dip in eggs and coat in breadcrumbs. Press the breadcrumbs onto the slices and shake off the excess. Shallow fry the slices until golden brown, then drain on kitchen paper to remove excess oil.
- Assemble and serve: Spoon the steamed rice in the bowl. Place the katsu slices on the other side of the bowl and pour a generous helping of the curry sauce. Serve with the grated carrot salad and a sprinkle of coriander leaves to garnish.