Katsu Curry

You wouldn’t catch your average Japanese housewife faffing around making a curry roux from scratch. Not when there are dozens of excellent ready made versions requiring little more effort than the mere flick of a kettle switch.

Katsu curry is a veritable thing of joy and one that’s warmed me through many a grim London winter but I must admit, I’ve always turned lazily to those ready made bars of S&B. So when an old friend from Osaka passed on her recipe, I was excited at the thought of seeing what actually went into this unique dish.

Curry was first introduced to the Japanese by British soldiers during the days of the Raj, and their twice removed version explains the use of ingredients like honey and fruit as well as the predilection for pork instead of the more traditional chicken or lamb.

Today “kare” is adored as a national dish, and turns up in everything from bread to soup and noodles. There are some fascinating regional versions back in Nihon, including Nashi pear curry, Hiroshima’s oyster curry, deer curry from Hokkaido and Nagano’s apple curry. However, on this island it’s the crispy breaded protein slathered in that spicy sweet sauce, more reminiscent of the chip shop than the curry house,  that we’ve grown to know and love.

The word “katsu” is derived from “cutlet” and basically refers to any deep-fried boneless meat. Instead of pork I plumped for turkey, to delicious effect. Predictably enough the home made version blows those shop bought sauces out of the water. It somehow combines all the comforting, Fisher Price creaminess you’d expect, with a fragrant jab of fresh, spicy heat. An utter delight.

It might be a far cry from the stuff you’d find on a Hyderabadi hob, but somehow it never fails to comfort and soothe, which ultimately, is all a good curry needs to do.

Ingredients

4 turkey steaks

2 tbsp plain flour

1 egg, beaten

25g (1oz) panko breadcrumbs

vegetable oil for deep frying

Rice (preferably Japanese, but I find brown rice also works well)

Curry Roux

2 tbsp vegetable oil

25g (1oz) butter

1 onion, sliced v.thinly

3 garlic cloves, grated/finely chopped

1 inch fresh root ginger, finely grated/chopped

2 tbsp mild Japanese curry powder or 1  1/2 to 2 tbsp  Indian curry powder

4 tbsp plain flour

1 tbsp mango chutney (Geetas is good)

2 tbsp tomato ketchup

2 tsp soy sauce

1 tbsp honey

Curry Sauce

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 onion, finely chopped

400g (14 oz) button mushrooms, sliced

1 cooking apple, grated

1 carrot grated

1 stick celery, finely chopped

600ml (1 pint) vegetable stock

salt and pepper

Method

  • First make your curry roux. Melt the butter and oil in a frying pan over a very gentle heat. Add the onion and leave for about half an hour to forty minutes, until nicely caramelised.
  • Add the garlic, ginger, curry powder and flour and stir well.
  • Stir in the chutney, ketchup, soy sauce and honey. Taste and adjust as necessary (it should be hot, tangy and creamy). Set to one side.
  • For the curry sauce, heat the oil in another pan and fry onion until translucent. Add mushrooms, apple, carrot, and celery and cook for another 5-10 minutes, until tender.
  • Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Incrementally add the curry roux, until it’s all incorporated.
  • You should be left with a viscous, glossy sauce, with the consistency of thick pouring cream. Add salt to taste, cover and simmer over a low heat.
  • Season the turkey steaks. Dust with flour, then dip in the beaten egg and coat with the panko, firmly pushing the crumbs into any exposed areas.
  • Heat the oil for deep frying. Fry the steaks for about 5 minutes on each side or until the meat is thoroughly cooked all the way through.
  • Drain and arrange over a bed of rice. Spoon over the hot curry sauce and scoff immediately.
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18 comments

  1. Homemade Japanese curry?! I take my hat off to you, Rejina!

  2. gastrogeek

    Thanks Su-Lin, definitely worth the effort :)

  3. Marvin LB

    Looks tasty, and I never knew that was what “Katsu” meant.

  4. Great info as always GG! Katsu Curry just might be my last meal on earth dish. Anyhow, I heard the Fukushinzuke sweet pickles usually seen with was a Japanese adaptation of British/Indian-style chutney as well. Cheers

  5. gastrogeek

    Thank you Dennis :) I toyed with the idea of making some of those to accompany. Had no idea they were also an adaptation. Mmmm fukushinzuke….

  6. Oooh, interesting! Hubby made a Katsu curry sauce a few years ago, which was nice but not quite right. This one sounds infinitely more likely! I’ve printed it out and I’ll leave Hubby to do his worst with it! LOL

  7. Love the flavours of a spicy & sweet curry like this to go with sticky rice. And nothing beats deep fried turkey steaks! Yum… love it.

  8. I love katsu curry, so thanks for sharing this recipe, will definitely try it!

  9. This is bringing back some memories for me! Kare was my default comfort food when I lived there as a kid.. actually, I am sure I would love it all the more now as an adult. Thanks for the recipe!

    • gastrogeek

      Eliza, that’s so fascinating, whereabouts did you live? I bet you’ve got some great stories..loving the blog by the way!

  10. Interesting background info,will definitely be trying this.

  11. Looks fab, I love a katsu. I’d be extremely tempted to whack it in a sandwich.

  12. gastrogeek

    Funny you should say that, that’s exactly what we did with the leftover bit. Popped in a slice of cheese – very nice it was too.

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