Tonkatsu is a well-known and popular dish amongst Japanese and Western people. However, it is quite rich and at its heart is just deep-fried crumbed pork. As much as I love tonkatsu, I hesitate… So I have created this chicken and vegetable katsu, a much lighter and less calorific version of its original.
- 400 g boneless and skinless chicken breasts, about 2
- 1 carrot, very thinly sliced using a mandoline
- 1 courgette, very thinly sliced using a mandoline
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 130 g buckwheat flour
- 150 g panko breadcrumbs
- 1½ litres vegetable or sunflower oil, for deep-frying
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- thinly sliced cabbage or crisp salad leaves
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
- tonkatsu sauce (see Note)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Slice each chicken breast on a slant, lengthways, into 4 pieces and then pound each slice with a meat tenderiser (or rolling pin). Pound repeatedly to make even, thin chicken pieces about the thickness of sandwich bread.
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil with a pinch of salt and then add the carrot slices followed by the courgette slices. Cook for 1 minute over high heat, drain and leave in a colander to steam-dry.
Lay a chicken slice on a chopping board and season with salt and pepper. Next, put a few carrot and courgette slices on top of the chicken. Lastly, place another chicken slice on top to sandwich the vegetables together, and then sprinkle over a little salt and pepper. Secure the edges closed with toothpicks. Repeat this process with the remaining chicken slices to make a total of 4 ‘sandwiches’.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the mustard. Scatter the flour on a plate and do the same with the breadcrumbs.
Dredge the entire chicken and vegetable sandwich with flour, dip it into the egg mixture, then into the breadcrumbs making sure that all of the chicken is completely covered with crumbs (press them down lightly to ensure they stick). Repeat for the remaining pieces.
Heat the oil in a deep frying pan or wok to 160° C/320° F. Carefully place the chicken into the hot oil and deep-fry for about 2 minutes. Turn over and cook for a further 2 minutes, or until lightly golden in colour. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from the oil and drain on kitchen paper. When cool enough to handle, carefully remove the cocktail sticks.
Serve the katsu with very thinly sliced and crispy fresh cabbage or salad leaves and lemon wedges and tonkatsu sauce on the side.
• For the tonkatsu sauce, place 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp castor sugar, 5 tbsp tomato ketchup and 1 tbsp sake in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat ans immer, uncovered, for about 7 minutes or until the mixture is thickened to the consistency or tomato ketchup. Remove from the heat and cook, then stir in ½-1 tsp English mustard, or to taste. Refrigerate and use as required.
Recipe from Cook Japan: Stay Slim Live Longer by Reiko Hashimoto (Bloomsbury, hb, $35). Read Reiko's thoughts on the benefits of the Japanese way of eating here.