Chicken Katsu with Warm Fennel & Almond Salad and Sichuan Chilli Oil

Chicken Katsu with Warm Fennel Salad and Sichuan Chilli OilInspiration is occasionally born out of apathy and the origins of this tasty meal were no different.

Feeling particularly uninspired one evening, I decided to forgo my usual practice of preparing two completely separate meals for dinner and instead decided to do the unthinkable – eat the same dinner as my partner! Now please bear in mind that this dining-convergence doesn’t happen often in my kitchen, very rarely in fact. We have wildly different tastes and normally I’m happy to make us different dinners every night, but there are occasions when I justifiably just think, “sod it” and we end up with the same meal. At least almost exactly the same, I always have to tart my own meal up, just a little!

So, “Chicken Schnitzel with mash” for two it was then! Now I must confess that the very first time I made this dish it was with some horrendous ready-made Chicken Schnitzels, wrestled from the frozen depths of my freezer. Indeed I had sunk so low, but like I said, “apathy = inspiration”.

But even in this heightened state of disinterest, I still needed something to spruce up this dire meal, so I set about rummaging through the fridge. I was looking for quick fixes and I found some; leftover pickled fennel that I had made for Kimchi Tacos – sorted! Things were starting to look up. It was only then that the inspiration started to kick-in; some toasted almond flakes were added to the fennel and Sichuan Chilli Oil, leftover from when I last made Dan-Dan Noodles, found its way onto the plate! Whilst this was fast turning into an inspired concoction, the addition of these two ingredients turned out to be culinary-dynamite! With just a few simple twists this meal went from turgid to terrific!

Note: The chicken in this dish has since morphed into Japanese Chicken Katsu, but there is nothing wrong with using good old chicken schnitzel instead (homemade or otherwise). For all extents and purposes Chicken Katsu and schnitzel are pretty much the same thing, but my need to complicate things for myself is, sadly, inherent and overwhelming.

Chicken Katsu with Warm Fennel & Almond Salad and Sichuan Chilli Oil: Serves 4

For the Chicken Katsu:

  • 4 skinless boned chicken breasts (pref. free range)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. mirin
  • 1/2 cup Plain Flour
  • 1 cup Panko or stale breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil

For the Fennel & Almond Salad:

  • 250g Baby Fennel
  • 1/2 tsp. yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp. toasted almond flakes
  • 4 tsp. white sugar
  • 4 tbsp. rice vinegar (white)

You will also need:

  • Mashed Potato (enough for 4)
  • Micro leaves or a selection of soft herbs
  • Homemade Sichuan Chilli Oil


  1. Trim the bottom of the fennel. Using a mandolin, finely shred the fennel across the grain (i.e. from the bottom up) into a bowl
  2. Lightly toast the almond flakes in a small frying pan, making sure not to burn them. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool
  3. Add the sugar and vinegar to the same pan and cook until the sugar dissolves. Add the mustard seeds and a small pinch of salt, cook for another minute
  4. In a separate pan, heat your vegetable oil
  5. Lightly pound the chicken with a meat mallet, just enough to break down some of the tissue fibres and to soften the meat
  6. Season the meat with salt and pepper
  7. Beat egg and mirin together
  8. Dredge the chicken in seasoned flour and then dip into the beaten egg
  9. Dredge the meat in the flour again, followed by a second dip into the egg
  10. Cover the chicken in the panko breadcrumbs, making sure that it is completely coated
  11. Add the chicken to the hot oil and fry until golden on both sides
  12. Remove and place on absorbent kitchen paper
  13. The chicken can either be served whole or cut into strips
  14. Just before serving reheat the vinegar mixture and pour over the shaved fennel. Finally, add the toasted almond flakes. Mix to combine

Assembling the dish:

  1. Place a portion of mashed potato in the middle of each plate
  2. Drizzle the Sichuan Chilli Oil around the edge of the plate, making sure that you add some of the oil’s residue
  3. Lightly sprinkle the micro leaves on top of the oil
  4. Place the Chicken Katsu on the mash and top with the warm fennel and almond salad
  5. Serve immediately



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