Japanese chicken katsu curry is the ultimate comfort dish! Tender chicken breast coated in a crispy panko batter and served on a thick, rich and gravy-like curry. Not only is it seriously delicious, but it's also a great dish for making in advance and storing in the freezer for a quick easy meal during the week!
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What is Katsu Curry?
Katsu Curry is a popular Japanese curry served with sticky Japanese rice and topped with a crispy breaded cutlet called "katsu". Katsu is most commonly made with pork chops in Japan (similar to a pork schnitzel) but can also be chicken or even beef.
Curry in Japan is often served with a red Japanese pickle called "fukujinzuke". (You can buy fukujinzuke on Amazon!)
Curry was introduced to Japan by the U.K and actually, I found that Japanese curry has some similarities to curries you might find at a good fish and chip shop in England.
Japanese curry is kinda sweet and the texture is thick and glossy, like a gravy. It's not as spicy as Indian or Thai curries, I think even people who don't like curry would like Japanese curry! It's probably one of the most popular home cooked dishes in Japan!
Japanese Curry Roux
When Japanese people make curry, we usually use the premade curry roux cubes. They look kinda like a bar of chocolate, and you can simply break it up and add it to water to make an easy curry at home.
The word “roux” comes from French and is a mixture of flour and fat that is cooked together and used to thicken sauces. When curry travelled from the U.K to Japan, it started as a roux mixed with curry powder, something we came to call “curry roux”. I use S&B Japanese curry powder to flavour my roux.
Japanese curry is made in a similar way to U.K style gravy, it’s thick and sweet and was originally served in a gravy boat too. There are still some restaurants that serve curry like this in Japan.
Over time, more ingredients were added to curry roux and it become more complex with essence of meat and vegetables. Essentially, curry roux become a concentrated curry and now, the Japanese loan word “curry roux” (kare ru or カレールー) is used by everyday people and restaurants.
Japanese curry roux comes in so many different forms. Most commonly, the firm cubes but also as a paste or shredded so it can be sprinkled in. In fact, Japanese people even call the curry itself “curry roux”, then curry roux with rice becomes “curry rice”!
My Japanese style curry roux is a thick paste, after refrigerating you can cut it into cubes and keep it in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Japanese Curry Ingredients
Japanese curry is often made with the following ingredients:
- Meat (beef, chicken, pork, seafood)
Of course you can change these up, but this is the most common combination of ingredients for curry in Japan. I often make a big batch of curry and eat it as it is on the first day, then the next time, I level it up with katsu so I can enjoy it even more!
Although pork is more commonly used, chicken is also great for making a delicious breaded cutlet we call "katsu".
In Japan, chicken katsu is usually made with chicken thigh and served as a Japanese style "teishoku" set meal with rice, salad, miso soup and pickles. Actually, it's kinda rare to see chicken katsu with curry in Japan.
For this recipe I'll be using chicken breast. Although it's not as juicy as chicken thigh, it produces a delicious and crispy cutlet that goes perfectly with curry.
How to make Katsu
Making katsu is surprisingly quick and only requires a handful of ingredients.
- Panko breadcrumbs
So traditionally, you coat the meat in flour to help the egg stick. Then you coat it with egg which helps the panko stick. If you want to make pork katsu, check out my recipe here.
One issue I've found with making katsu with chicken breast, is that the panko breadcrumbs tend to fall off. To prevent this, I made a batter with flour, egg and water and then I coat it in panko. I also add parmesan cheese to the panko, it's so good!
Storing and Reheating Curry
Japanese curry is the perfect dish for cooking in bulk and then eating later. It's also perfectly safe to eat as long as you follow these storage and reheating instructions!
24-48 hours: If you're planning on eating your curry leftovers within the next couple of days, you can simply let it cool and then keep it in the refrigerator in a sealed container or in the pot in which you cooked it.
48 hours+ : If you don't plan to finish the curry within 2 days, it's better to transfer the curry to a sealable glass container (plastic can be used but it will get curry stains). Make sure to remove the potatoes, potatoes don't freeze well in curry and tend to fall apart.
Japanese curry should be good in the freezer for about 1 month.
The katsu can also be frozen for up to 1 month in a freezer bag.
Refrigerated: If you've kept the curry in the same pot you cooked it in, simply return the pot to the stove. You can also bake in the oven if your dish is oven proof, this will take about 15 minutes at 160°C or 320°F. (Keep the lid on to stop the meat from drying out).
If you put the chilled curry into containers you can microwave it for approx 3-4 minutes, stirring every minute.
Frozen: Microwaving is the easiest way, you can defrost it first if you prefer, but it doesn't really make any difference in the taste, only in the time. If you microwave from frozen then it will take about 6-8 minutes. (Make sure to stir every minute after the first 3-4 minutes)
The katsu is best reheated in the oven to maintain the crispy texture. Preheat the oven to 200°C or 400°F and bake. If it's defrosted it will take about 6-8 minutes, then a bit longer from frozen. Another option is to microwave it for a few minutes and then put it under the grill or toaster to crisp up out the outside.
Japanese katsu curry is made with a Japanese style curry that is slightly sweet, thick like gravy and not too spicy.
It's common to serve katsu curry with a red pickle called "Fukujinzuke". Fukujinzuke is made with cucumber, daikon radish and eggplants usually.
Katsu isn't the name of the curry itself, it's the crispy cutlet served on top. Katsu is mostly commonly made with pork, but it can also be made from chicken or beef. It's often eaten as a Japanese set meal called "teishoku" (served with rice, miso soup, salad and pickles) but it's often enjoyed with curry too.