One of my favourite Japanese meals is Chicken Katsu Kare. A breaded chicken (or sometimes eve pork) cutlet with a lovely thick, mild curry sauce and sticky rice, topped with lightly pickled red pepper.
Its absolute rainy day comfort food for me. I had a real craving for it the other week but didn’t have any of my usual short cuts in stock. (In Japan I’d always make the curry with shop bought roux cubes as would everyone else!) So I set to and made it all from scratch. I didn’t even have any curry powder!
Its actually not hard at all, it just takes a bit of organisation in a small kitchen like mine as there are a lot of little stages you need to pull together. I’m very happy I took the time and did a big batch though, this recipe will serve 4 so for singletons like myself I suggest you freeze ready prepped portions for the next rainy day craving!
For the curry roux:
4 tbsp flour
1 tbsp curry powder
1tbsp Garam masala
1/2 tsp five spice
1/4 tap cayenne pepper
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp chilli powder)
For the curry:
1 clove garlic
1 carrot, diced
1 medium floury potato,diced
500ml chicken stock
For the cutlets:
2 chicken breasts
2 tbsp flour + salt and pepper
1 beaten egg
4 tbsp bread crumbs
3 tbsp rapeseed oil
Sticky Japanese rice and chopped pickled pepper* to serve (*I love Lidl’s jars of roasted peppers!)
- First things first, make up your curry powder if you’re making that from scratch, just give it all a good mix. There will be some spare so pop it in a small jar for later use.
- Then prep your roux. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and once it is all bubbly add the flour and spices. Give it a good stir for 30 seconds or so and it will turn a golden brown. Set aside off the heat.
- In a larger saucepan heat a splash of oil and sautee the onion and garlic until soft.
- Add the carrot, potato and chicken stock and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add the curry roux to the saucepan gradually, stirring well to avoid lumps.
- Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally as it thickens to avoid sticking.
- Take your chicken breasts and lay them on a large chopping board, with plenty of room between them. Cover them with cling wrap.
- Take a rolling pin and whack the chicken breasts to flatten them. You will find you can slightly direct how the meat spreads, you want to get it all to a thickness of ~1cm.
- Remove the cling wrap. Cut each chicken breast in half to make approximately equal portions.
- Place the flour on one plate, the egg in a shallow dish and the breadcrumbs on a final plate.
- Coat the chicken in the flour, then dip it in the egg and finally cover with breadcrumbs. Then set aside and continue with the remaining pieces.
- Heat 3 tbsp rapeseed oil in a large frying pan (you may have to do this in 2 batches, or with 2 pans depending on size).
- Place the cutlets in the oil and cook for 3-5 minutes, until you can see them cooked halfway up, then flip and cook for another 3-5 minutes until cooked through.
- Serve the cutlet sliced into strips, with a heap of sticky rice, curry sauce and pickled red pepper on top.
A recipe with a bit of a Japanese twist today! This Grilled Salon with Miso Soba Noodles is quick (about 10 minutes to cook), simple and delicious! What’s not to love about that? Oh and it’s super healthy for you too!
You marinate the salmon the night before (or even for a few days, it won’t spoil it!) and then simply pop it on the grill while you cook your noodles. 10 minutes, done and dusted!
I actually made this for my lunches during what I knew was going to be a hectic week. I needed good quality food, full of nutrients that would tempt me to actually stop and eat rather than grabbing something worthless on the fly. This dish is delicious either hot or cold. If you haven’t had cold noodles during a heat wave I urge you to give it a go, they’re divine!
2 salmon fillets
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
1 bundle soba noodles
1 sachet tofu and wakame miso soup
edamame to serve
– Place your salmon in a sealable watertight bag and add the soy sauce and mirin.
– Leave in the fridge to marinate overnight or longer.
– When ready to cook simply place the salmon on a health grill or in a frying pan. If cooking in a pan remember to flip over then the colour has changed half way up. Pour the marinating liquid over the top (being careful of run off for the health grill!)
– Prepare the soba according to packet instructions (usually cook for about 4 minutes in boiling water).
– Drain the noodles (don’t be too thorough) and then add the miso paste and dried wakame and tofu bits. Add a little splash of hot water to slacken.
– Stir well to coat the noodles in miso.
– Serve with edamame if you fancy them!
I LOVE Yakitori! But I often forget about how easy it is to prepare and how delicious it is to eat! It’s a mainstay of Japanese food found on street stalls and izakaya menus across the country. I have some absolutely perfect memories of eating Yakitori across Japan on my travels.
It’s usually served as a snack, side dish or a dish amongst many but you can make it as a main in its own right. I had it with a bowl of rice and some gyoza here. It’s a brilliant option for BBQs as something a little different and makes a great canape option too.
One of the great things about Yakitori is that you don’t need to marinate the meat. You just make the sauce and brush it on as you cook it. You could even make the sauce in advance (and soak your skewers) then it’s simply a matter of 10 minutes on the grill!
Makes 6 skewers (serves 2 as a main)
2 chicken breasts, sliced lengthways into strips (or chunks, whatever you prefer!)
1/2 cup mirin
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup granulated sugar
– Place your mirin, soy sauce and sugar in a small pan and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes on a low head but don’t let it get too hot or you will end up with salty toffee!
– Once the sauce is reduced and thickened (about the consistency of double cream) remove it from the heat.
– Reserve a little of your sauce for dipping once cooked
– Thread your chicken onto presoaked bamboo skewers.
– I like to give the chicken a quick coating of sauce before placing on the grill.
– Then put them on the grill and brush every minute or two with sauce.
– Give one final coating just before you serve for a glossy, sticky finish.
– Serve however you wish!
When the weather is dull and wet as it has been recently, I get serious cravings for Japanese food. We English may think we know rain, and to an extent we do. We certainly have a lot of different rains. Japan simply has RAIN. As in, buckets and buckets, step outside without an umbrella and be drenched to the skin within 5 meters RAIN. And when the heavens open, and keep opening, there is absolutely nothing better than finding some tiny little out of the way eatery, thick with a fug of steam and soy sauce and mirin, and hunkering down until the warmth seeps back in and you are ready to face the day once more.
Now, by all rights, what follows should be a recipe for Ramen… but I can never make ramen that is anything other than a poor, pale immitation of proper ramen. And I know why this is. It’s all about the stock. One day I will spend an entire weekend carefully crafting the perfect bowl of ramen but until then I content myself with being able to whip up a number of easy, quick, filling, and delightfully warming Japanese dishes, such as this one.
Oyakodon translates as Parent and Child Bowl, which tickles me rather. The combination of chicken and egg is a brilliantly satisfying one. This dish really hits every single one of my savoury cravings and is always a winner in my kitchen.
150ml dashi stock
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp mirin
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 chicken breasts, in chunks (or you could use 2 large chicken thighs, skinned and boned)
1 onion, sliced /1 leed, sliced diagonally*
1 egg, beaten
sticky rice to serve
– In a deep frying pan combine the dashi, sugar, mirin and soy sauce and bring to the boil.
– Add the chicken and onion / leek and simmer for 8-10 minutes until the chichen is cooked through.
– Pour the beaten egg over the top of the sauce. Do not stir!
– When the egg has set serve over a bowl of sticky rice.
*Sometimes I use an onion, sometimes I use a leek. I think the onion is more traditional but I was given it with leek in too. I like squeaky leek but if you don’t then just go with onion!
My mother always tells us about holidays in Morecambe Bay as a child and how they would go treading for Dab. Sounds just like it is. You go walking about in the bay and when you step on a fish you don’t run screaming like a girl but instead you keep your foot on it and catch it for supper! Luckily I did not have to do that. This Dab came from Morrisons.
When I was living in Tokyo during my gap year a local restaurant owner took it upon himself to educate us about the joys of Japanese food. It was our favouite izakaya and whenever we went there, in addition to whatever we had ordered, he would bring us something new to try. In return we helped him practice his English. One day he presented us with a whole flat fish, simmered in a light soy stock. It was utterly delicious and a real biology lesson! Ever since I have been wanting to try recreating that dish. So, this Good Friday, I did.
2 dab, prepared for cooking (or any other small flatfish with heads and tails or without!)
1 cup dashi stock
3 tbsp sake
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp soy sauce
(1 large onion, sliced)*
– Put all of the liquids in a pan big enough to place all the fish in flat in one layer and bring to a simmer.
– Slash the dark skin of the fish diagonally with a very sharp knife.
– Place the fish in the simmering stock, dark skin up, and cook for 4 minutes, ladeling the stock over the top occasionally.
– Remove from the heat and place on a serving plate with a splash of the liquid and keep warm if doing the next step.
(- Add the onion to the stock and turn up the heat a bit. Simmer for 4 minutes, until the onion is soft.)
– Serve with sticky rice and any other Japanese dishes you fancy.
* Optional but very tasty. You don’t cook the onion and fish together because the onion flavour would overpower the delicate fish. This addition makes it a more substantial meal if you’re not serving anything else.
When I was living in Japan the first time I begged one of the teachers at the school I was teaching in to teach me how to cook Japanese food. She dutifully came round to my apartment and under her supervision I crafted a beautiful Japanese meal, so precisely served and garnished, and presented like a masterpiece… Suffice to say I’ve never hit that level of perfection since!
However, Mida-sensei gave me a wonderful introduction to cooking my own Japanese food and the recipes she taught me are ones I turn to again and again. This one is quick and convenient and I always turn to it when I find I have a random leek left in the fridge or am just feeling nostalgic for Japan.
3 chicken thighs, cut diagonally into chunks
3 tbsp corn flour
1 leek, cut diagonally ~every 1/2″
200ml hot dashi stock
4 tbsp mirin
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
– Put the dashi, sake, mirin, soy sauce and sugar in a sauce pan and bring to the boil.
– Pat the chicken thighs with corn flour, coating well, and discard the excess.
– Put the chicken in the sauce and simmer for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
– Add the leek and cook for a further 4 minutes.
– Serve with sticky rice.
A little bonus Wednesday post here for Japanese Week, I had leftover rice so decided to whip up this quick recipe. I think that three recipes in a row counts as a theme!
It may not look that pretty (for which my apologies but I was very hungry and didn’t want to mess about) but this is a very tasty use of leftovers. It sounds like something a toddler might come up with, rice mixed with ketchup (my own sister lived off that for about a year as I recall) but this is actual food! It has vegetables and a nice wrapper of omelet to keep it tidy (and put some nice balanced protein in there). And to prove it it is served in cafes, restaurants and canteens all over Japan.
It is another thoroughly everyday meal, obviously invented to use up leftover rice, but which has become a meal in its own right. You can make this with any rice, Japanese or basmati and the vegetables can feature as much as you like or disappear completely, it just depends on what you have in the fridge!
For the egg sheet:
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dashi powder if you have it (add a dash of soy sauce if you don’t)
1 tsp corn flour
a splash of cold water.
1 cup leftover rice, reheated
~4 tbsp ketchup
some cooked veggies
(I thinly sliced a few mushrooms, chopped some pepper and microwaved it for 1 minute and added some peas, I highly recomend peas at the very least)
– Mix all of the ingredients for the egg sheets together and whisk thoroughly.
– You can either use a lightly oiled pan to cook it or microwave it using a lightly oiled dinner plate. You simply tip half of the mixture onto the plate, swirl it around and cook on high for about 1 minute 30 seconds. Keep cooking until the middle is set. Then, very carefully, peel the egg sheet off and cook the second half of the mixture in the same way.
– Mix the rice, ketchup and vegetables together.
– Place a heap of rice in the centre of each egg sheet and wrap the egg around it.
– Carefully transfer it to a plate, seams down, and the decorate with a zig zag of ketchup.