Thursday, November 6, 2008

Better-Than-Any-Restaurant Chicken Katsu

I know I should be studying. I have a comprehensive, test-how-well-you-can-remember-everything-from-your-undergraduate-career type of exam coming up in less than 2 weeks. For me that was years ago (guess how long that was?!). But what am I doing instead? Finding things to distract me. It has become absolutely imperative I clean the grout in my bathroom. And the moss from between the cracks on our front steps. And sort out our junk drawers (yes, we have more than one!). But as you can tell from my lack of posts, cooking and blogging have not been part of those distractions. Those would be fun activities, and if I’m going to waste time doing anything but what I’m supposed to be doing, then I shouldn’t enjoy it, right? Like my logic?

And who could really concentrate with the election drama these last two weeks? Even before Tuesday, I realized how emotionally invested I was in this election. Tuesday was the climax, with all that stress and anxiety building up. Wednesday saw the gradual release of all that tension and a sense of exhilaration. Friends and relatives from overseas have emailed me to congratulate us. People I didn’t even think were paying attention! Finally today, I’m getting a sense of “back to real life and work.” My tile grout might look sparkling clean, but the dishes and unpaid bills need to be addressed! Not to mention that test. Gaaah!

But lest you think I’ve been feeding my family microwave dinners these past weeks (okay, only occasionally), I have come with proof otherwise. In essence it’s chicken katsu, but really that doesn’t say anything but chicken and panko. This is more than that because I’ve added miso paste before dredging the chicken. Still, that doesn’t really describe how good this is. It’s not just dipped in miso, but miso that has been spiked with ginger, garlic, and tamari. Then the pieces are dredged in flour, egg, and panko and pan-fried till golden brown, sealing in that awesome punch of flavor.

I know this picture just doesn't do this dish justice. All the good stuff is underneath that crispy panko coating. And the dipping sauce is a slightly sweet, yet very savory compliment.

If you haven’t used miso before, this is the perfect time to try. I know buying special ingredients can be annoying because you may use it for one dish. And if you end up not even liking that one dish, then it's a real waste of money. But no worries here. This dish will be a hit and you’ll want to make it over and over again. And miso lasts just about forever stored in your fridge, so you don’t have to make this over again and again all in the same week.☺

Miso-dipped Chicken Katsu
Serves 4 to 5
  • 2 tbs white miso
  • 1.5 tbs sugar
  • 2 tbs tamari (regular soy sauce if fine)
  • 1 tbs mirin (optional)
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 knob ginger, minced or grated (about ½ to 1 tbs minced)
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or pork loin chops), pounded to a thin, uniform thickness
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten for coating
  • All purpose flour for dredging
  • panko crumbs for coating

For the dipping sauce:
  • 3 tbs mirin
  • 3 tbs tamari
  • 1 tbs sugar (more or less to taste)
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp minced ginger
  • dash of toasted sesame oil
  • toasted sesame seeds (to taste)
  • pinch of Japanese or Korean chili powder (to taste, optional)

Start by combining the miso, sugar, tamari, mirin, garlic, and ginger to make a paste. Rub all over the chicken or combine with the chicken in a large bowl and allow it to rest for a little while you prepare the sauce, the dredging ingredients and get your rice (or whatever you want to serve with this) going.

To make the sauce, just combine everything in a small bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Set it aside until ready to serve. You may want to give it a quick stir every now and then to make sure the sugar goes into solution.

Put the flour, beaten eggs and panko crumbs into 3 separate deep plates (or whatever setup you like to use for dredging) close to where you are going to do the frying. In a skillet, heat about a half inch or so of oil for shallow pan-frying over medium-high heat. Deep-frying is another alternative, but I find no advantage doing it that way. It’s just a waste of oil. When the oil is hot (test by adding dry panko crumbs; they should sizzle right away), quickly dredge the chicken in flour (shake off excess), then egg, then panko. Add to the hot oil and allow to fry until golden on one side. Turn and do it on the other side. Don’t crowd the chicken; you may need to fry in batches, depending on how large your skillet is. And here’s where you need to watch the heat. If the panko is browning too fast, turn down the heat a little. Cooking time will depend on how thick the pieces are. I think it took anywhere from 6 to 8 minutes. Remove and allow to rest on paper towels or on a rack (my preferred method).

Serve with Japanese sticky rice, dipping sauce and whatever other tasty side dishes you’d like. I’ve done a carrot-ginger stir-fry and a cabbage-celery stir-fry. Even steamed broccoli will do.

Did I mention this works beautifully with boneless pork loin chops? Be sure to pound them thin as well if they are too thick.

Blazing Hot Wok I’m submitting this recipe to Regional Recipes, a blogging event celebrating world foods! The region this time is Japan and the host is Wandering Chopsticks. If you have a tasty recipe, please do share! Deadline for submissions is November 15th and you can send them to wanderingchopsticks(at)gmail(dot)com. Check out the rules on the Regional Recipes main page. And be sure to check out the round-up around the 20th to see the other submissions and find out the next region. Wanna host a future event? Let me know and I’ll put you on the list.

Other Japanese-inspired dishes you may like:
pan-fried udon noodles with shiitakes and beef


Mandy said...

from your description of the recipe, I know this is going to be a winner. :) And I will be making it soon for sure. :)Oh, and I took your advice and bought the healthy boy mushroom soy sauce for pad see ew. It was delicious! :)

Dee said...

Mandy, that mushroom soy sauce is my favorite! I use it often in place of regular soy.

If you make the katsu, let me know how you like it!

Manggy said...

Darlene, it looks good outside, and probably in too :) The coating sounds excellent. I have an unnatural love for tonkatsu sauce with these breaded and fried cutlets (maybe even teriyaki sauce) but the sauce you've concocted here sounds fantastic too.

I find that if you're doing non-enjoyable things to procrastinate, you might as well be not enjoying yourself studying, lol :)

Dee said...

manggy, I normally buy the sauce but we were out and I didn't realize it until went to grab it out of the fridge. And of course I was too lazy to research it on the interwebs, so I just threw together that sauce and it turned out better than I expected.

Mary Bergfeld said...

Since my dinner invitation was late, I'll have to make this on my own. Wonderful use of miso here. I can't wait to try this.

Mike of Mike's Table said...

I really need to find miso already because this looks delicious!

Dee said...

Mary, I normally use this paste as a marinade and grill the chicken, but since the weather here is not conducive to grilling, I decided to try the panko method. I wasn't sure how the miso would turn out texturally, but it worked nicely.

Mike, what's not to like? It's like eating deep-fried chicken strips, but without all the mess!

QGIRL said...

Anything coated in panko crust is a hit in my house. this looks yumm (with a double "m").
When I didn't want to study, I'd do laundry. and lots of cleaning too. we think sooo alike!

Dee said...

qgirl, I hate doing laundry. It's because all those times in SF when I had to drag baskets of laundry to the laundromat 2 blocks away. Back and forth and back and forth. Because of that, I refused to do Hubby's laundry (which my mother feared would be grounds for a divorce! LOL). Now I just have to go downstairs, yet that still seems like too much work. I think I'd almost rather clean tile grout :-) Done it once, and it's good for a few months.

QGIRL said...

Heads up that I featured this recipe in my weekly meal planning post! Also the udon noodle one you did for the $10 meal challenge.

Dee said...

qgirl, yay! I'm excited to hear what you think!

test it comm said...

That looks good and the dipping sauce sounds really tasty!

bb said...

That looks fantastic, and further serves to prove the point that what isn't good when it's breaded and fried?! Thanks for serving it up.

dp said...

bb, I agree, anything breaded and fried is good. Same goes with adding bacon :-)

Lars said...

and not forgetting the 'anything with bechamel is good' learned from the greek endavours.... i'm contemplating bechamel'n'bacon poppers!!

chicken katsu looks great, and yes i've been waiting for an excuse for getting into som miso action. this seems to be it so thank you...

Heather said...

I love chicken katsu (and tonkatsu)! And you're absolutely right about miso lasting forever - nice thing about fermented foods.

Sarah said...

You had me at "miso." And then again at "dipping sauce." These are all of my favorite flavors in one dish! Thank you for sharing it!

Nilmandra said...

I love chicken or tonkatsu, but have never made it with miso. Thanks for the idea!

Dee said...

lars, everyone should know bechamel by heart. Bechamel and bacon poppers would totally be do-able :-)

heather, even better is katsu sandwich! With mayo!

sarah, I love miso too and use it in non-japanese foods as well. The dipping sauce is also good for cold tofu pieces too, if you like tofu :-)

nilmandra, you're welcome! Using the miso was a happy accident. The chicken was originally destined for another preparation, but I got lazy :-)

Anonymous said...

ohhhh! we've had miso to use up for awhile now and this looks like it will do the trick!

eatingclubvancouver_js said...

I have a weakness for anything breaded and fried. Thank goodness I'm also very lazy and would never get up and do it for myself. ;)

This looks amazing!

Food For Tots said...

I start to use miso in my cooking and luv to try out diff recipes which use miso. Tks for your sharing. Your chicken katsu looks so delicious!

gaga said...

I've always depended on the tonkatsu sauce or curry for flavor. Adding miso to it is a great idea. Next time I make chicken katsu, I'll give it a try. Yours looks wonderful!

Dee said...

js, get your sister to do it :-)

gaga, the trick is to pound the chicken thin so that it will cook through and the panko doesn't burn, but gets a nice brown color.

Anonymous said...

But this picture does do it justice! I can taste the flavor and the crunch of the
Katsu is something I always buy, but never thought of making at home. You've definitely convinced me!

Caroline said...

Just wanted to let you know this katsu recipe is a keeper! I made this to go with Japanese curry I was making and my family ate them all up. This is something I'll be making again, next time I will try it with your dipping sauce. Thanks!

Dee said...

Caroline, I'm so glad you liked it. I try to post things that are somewhat family-friendly, so it's nice to hear your family loved it. Mine did too :-)