This chicken katsu strips recipe will make you kat-su happy
Chicken katsu strips recipe (with vegan aubergine option). Time to feel kat-su happy…
It has happened to all of us.
It’s Friday night. You’re watching an anime. Someone serves the character dinner and your stomach starts rumbling looking at that animated deliciousness. You think, I want to eat that right now. How can animated food look so tasty? Surely there is something that can compare.
THERE IS! A DELICIOUS DINNER YOU CAN PUT IN YOUR MOUTH!
But here is the problem: your culinary skills are as limited as both your wallet and the amount of time you have before you will absolutely crumple if you don’t eat something.
It might seem impossible, but making a tasty anime-inspired dish is easy when you make chicken katsu strips.
This chicken katsu strips recipe is a delicious take on the Japanese tonkatsu. It can be prepared in as little as fifteen minutes with only a few ingredients (and even fewer things to wash up afterwards). Chicken katsu strips are great on their own, paired with onigiri (see Mookychick’s onigiri recipe) or served with a Japanese style curry.
The best part? This chicken katsu recipe is super-easy. Let’s get started.
Chicken katsu strips recipe ingredients:
- 5 boneless skinless chicken breasts (see the vegan/vegetarian option below)
- Salt, pepper
- 2-4 tablespoons (30-60 ml) flour, as needed
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup (250 ml) panko
- 1 bottle katsu sauce (scroll down to see what I think about DIY vs. shop-bought katsu sauce)
Vegan option: replace chicken with aubergine
- Replace the chicken with two aubergines
- Slice them thickly into discs – each disc should be about 0.5 cm thick
- If you wish you can sprinkle salt on both sides of the disc, leave them to dry out for a few hours then carefully rinse off all the salt in water and dry the aubergines with paper towels (or squeeze each piece between your palms). This is known as ‘purging’. It draws out all the bitter juices in aubergines so they are even more tasty, and also collapses their air pockets so they don’t hold as much oil inside when you start frying!
- See this aubergine katsu strips recipe from the BBC for inspiration.
- Poultry seasoning
- 2-4 tablespoons (30-60 ml) mirin, soy sauce, or sake. You can get vegan soy sauce substitutes if needed.
- Shredded cabbage, rice or curry
- A deep frying pan
- Two plates
- Paper towels
- 3 bowls
- Cooking mallet
This recipe serves between 3-5, depending on the size of your chicken breasts and the appetite of your diners.
Step 1: Preparation
It’s time to prepare your work station! Roll up your sleeves and let’s get to it.
First, get three bowls and align them in a row.
In one bowl, beat the two eggs. Mix in your mirin, soy sauce or sake if desired.
In the second bowl, add your flour. You can add a dash of poulry seasoning to the flour if desired.
In the third bowl, add your panko. Don’t the filled bowls look pretty when they’re all in a row?
Now it’s time to take your chicken breasts.
Remove any skin, bones and tendons if you haven’t already. Next, halve your chicken breasts lengthways.
Using your cooking mallet, pound your chicken breasts until they are about a half inch/12.5mm thin.
Sprinkle each side with salt and pepper as desired.
In this stage, I sometimes stop and cut my chicken into smaller strips, especially if I have larger chicken breasts. I’ll talk more about why I do this in step 3.
Step 2: Panko Time
Now comes the messy part. It’s best to do this step one-handed if you can, but regardless, I would recommend keeping a napkin or dishrag on the side for your hands.
Dip your chicken breasts into the egg/mirin wash until the meat is evenly coated.
Follow by dipping into the flour. It’s important that both sides are well coated in flour, as any bald spots will stop the panko from sticking (and the panko is what makes this so delicious).
Dip your chicken strips into panko.
Set on a plate and repeat.
When you are about halfway finished, your fingers will probably be coated in panko and everything feels impossible. Chunks of panko are probably in your egg wash even though the egg wash comes before the panko. Take a deep breath. Don’t try to solve this mystery.
Wash your hands, add more panko and flour if needed, and continue.
Step 3: Fry your chicken
Add your oil to a deep frying pan and prepare to fry your chicken on a medium heat. The time will vary depending on the temperature of your oil and the size of your chicken breasts.
Larger pieces will take longer to cook, so be sure to flip them frequently to avoid burning. While you can cut larger pieces at the end to make sure they are cooked properly, I prefer to have all my pieces cut to relatively the same size. This means that once I start frying I don’t have to worry as much when I inevitably become distracted by something (like the anime I was watching before I started cooking).
When your chicken is a nice golden brown, remove your chicken from the oil and allow to drain on a few paper towels. Remember to check your larger pieces to make sure they are cooked thoroughly.
Step 4: Serve!
This is the best part: serve your chicken strips with katsu sauce and enjoy.
You can serve the katsu sauce on the side as a dipping sauce, or drizzle it over the top.
Chicken katsu strips are surprisingly portable. You can eat them hot, straight out of the pan, but they taste just as good served picnic-style. Consider packing up your leftover katsu strips and sauce with an onigiri for a quick, tasty lunch worthy of any anime character. As this particular chicken katsu strips recipe serves 3-5, hopefully you’ll have a little left over to play with!
Traditional katsu is often served over a bed of shredded lettuce, but this chicken katsu strips recipe goes very well with rice or served over the top of a bowl of golden Japanese curry.
Let’s Talk Katsu Sauce
Personally I’ve found it more cost-effective to purchase a pre-made bottle of katsu sauce than to attempt to make a great-tasting katsu sauce at home. Katsu sauce recipes call for prunes, apricots, tomatoes, dates, apples, lemon juice, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, carrots, celery, sugar, and spices like mustard seed, black pepper, and who knows what else (because every recipe I tried just had them labelled as assorted spices so I was left guessing).
An alternative to making your own katsu sauce is to use the easy version of the recipe:
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) ketchup
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) sugar
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) oyster sauce
- ½ teaspoon (2.5ml) lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons (5 ml) Worcestershire sauce
- Ground ginger to taste (optional)
Combine and mix all the ingredients to taste.
Personally, I preferred the bottled version of the sauce to my at-home version. I’ve used the easy recipe in a pinch, but I found I ended up wasting ingredients in my attempts to get the perfect combination. I am lucky in that there’s a larger grocery chain with an international food aisle on my way home from work; my local grocery does not carry it. If you live in a rural area, you might run into the same problem I did.
Kat-su happy eating!