Talk about love at first bite! Don’t quote me on this, but I would imagine the Japanese “katsu” is an Anglo-Japanese word for “cut”, as in cutlet. Tonkatsu, then, means pork cutlet, Chikinkatsu means… well… chicken cutlet, Ebikatsu means prawn cutlet, and so on. So basically, a katsu is a Japanese version of a schnitzel made with extra crispy panko breadcrumbs, and it was one of my biggest guilty pleasures when I visited Japan.
4 deboned chicken breasts (without skin)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
140 g (250 ml) cake flour
4 eggs, beaten
200 g Asian panko breadcrumbs
4 large prawns, deveined and shelled, but leave the tail tip on
Place one chicken breast between two sheets of baking paper. Using a rolling pin, gently beat the chicken breast to flatten it; repeat with the rest and season with salt and pepper.
Then, using one hand as your “dry hand” and the other as your “wet hand”, coat the breasts in the flour with your “dry hand” and dip them into the egg with your “wet hand” before transferring them to the breadcrumb mixture. Once you’ve finished crumbing, cover the plate of crumbed food in an airtight container and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest. This ensures the coating sticks firmly to the surface of the meat and prevents it from lifting away during cooking.
Dip each breast into the flour, followed by the egg, crumbs, and back again into the egg and the crumbs.
Pour the oil into a frying pan (about 10 cm deep) and heat to medium. Carefully place the chicken breasts in the oil. If your frying pan is not big enough for all four, fry them one or two at a time, keeping them warm. Fry until golden and crispy; then turn them around and fry on the other side. This process should not take longer than 8 – 10 minutes. Drain the chicken breasts on kitchen towel.
Keeping the pan hot, season the prawns with salt and pepper. Dip each prawn into the flour, then the egg, and finally the crumbs.
Carefully place them in the hot oil and fry until golden and crispy. Drain on kitchen towel.
SUPER SIMPLE SESAME DRESSING
Katsu goes very well with steamed rice and a crunchy cabbage salad drenched in Japanese sesame dressing. Simply mix together 45 ml white sesame seeds (toasted and ground), 30 – 45 ml rice vinegar, 15 ml soy sauce, 10 ml brown sugar, and 5 ml sesame oil.