Chicken Katsu

Katsudon カツ丼 (Crumbed Cutlet Donburi)

Forming part of the donburi style of Japanese cooking, katsudon is eaten all over Japan and is one of the classic donburi toppings.

Literally meaning “bowl of rice” in Japanese, donburi (rather unsurprisingly) consists of rice with a topping. Some of the most popular toppings are simmered in a mixture of dashi, mirin and soya sauce (such as katsudon, oyakodon and gyūdon), but this type of topping is by no means the definitive variation. Other toppings include grilled eel (unadon) and others, like tuna, are served raw (negitorodon). It seems there is really only one rule in donburi and that’s: rice, in a bowl.

There is absolutely nothing refined about katsudon, and that’s why I love it! Simmered in a sweet dashi broth and then topped off with egg, this is Japanese comfort food at its best.

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Chikenkatsu チキンカツ (Crumbed Chicken Cutlet)

Almost identical to its porkier cousin, chikenkatsu is, rather unsurprisingly, a chicken version of the Japanese deep-fried delight that is tonkatsu. As part of youshoku cuisine (Japanese-style Western cuisine), chikenkatsu literally means “chicken cutlet”, and is the Japanese interpretation of the chicken schnitzel.

As with tonkatsu, there are a number of ways chikenkatsu can be eaten. It can be served with just rice, shredded cabbage, mustard and the ubiquitous Tonkatsu Sauce, it can be added to Japanese Curry Sauce to make katsu-karē or it can be used as a chicken alternative to the donburi classic, Katsudon.

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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.

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