Succulent Chicken Katsu Curry

  • Time: 1 hour
  • Serves: 4
  • Level: easy

‘This Japanese classic has become a favourite in the WDC house, because it’s warming, filling and just totally delicious… you could say, moreish! But it’s also really simple. I’ve made it plenty of times back in uni and at home.’

Leo Williamson
'Wagamama's succulent Katsu Curry is actually super easy to make, and the beauty is, you can have as much curry sauce as you like!'

What you need

360g sushi rice

500ml cold water

4 chicken breast fillets

2 x individual Japanese curry blocks mild, medium or hot (S&B Golden Curry)

400g waxy potatoes

1 large onion

2 large carrots

2 sticks of celery

2 bay leaves

4 cm piece of ginger

1 chopped green chilli (optional)

500 ml chicken stock plus 250ml water

Milk, eggs, flour and panko breadcrumbs for coating chicken

Vegetable oil



Dad's Recipe Tales

Chicken Katsu Curry – a timeless classic

When Wagamama opened in Wigmore Street, I would often pop-in for lunch. You may think this a rather extravagant indulgence for a simple midday meal, but judging by the daily queues one could be forgiven for thinking that the place was no more than a staff canteen. Besides, I was on a mission to understand the new trendy food being offered. Queues, however, do normally indicate that lunch will not be a quick affair, but with Wagamama’s automated and efficient method of seating, ordering, cooking and serving it was possible to have lunch and return to the office within an hour. Wagamama also made it easy for eating on one’s own – the overly democratic benches did at least allow for comfortable anonymity.

On my first visit I had a bowl of rice and a gyoza starter and a juice. On subsequent visits, I noticed that just about everybody was ordering a bowl of endamame beans with their meal. So I did too. Then I noticed that about half the customers were eating big bowls of soup: ramen. So I started to order this… The other popular and distinctive meal being served was a plate filled with a large mound of rice in the shape of half a cacao bean smothered in a grey brown sauce and served with what looked like tasty fried chicken. Ah, chicken katsu curry.

How clever of Wagamama to take four Japanese staples and make a million. In the beginning the brand was a little confused – all the blurb was about the super-healthy and nutritious life-style nature of their food. I kept ordering juice and berry smoothies thinking this is what it was about. But it was not. It was about, the long tables and hip waiters, the whizzy handsets and scribbles on your place mat… It was about an exposed kitchen and wok burners with leaping flames – and it was about the name ‘Wagamama’ and the Japanese lingo and all those m’s, y’s, and k’s…

It was also about good food, based on endless variations of Japanese and Asian wok cookery…

But mainly it was about chicken katsu curry.

How Dad Cooked It

This is like falling off logs – do try it. Once you do it will become a family favourite. NB: the curry blocks were once my secret weapon in the kitchen – but you can’t expect the retail giant research teams to miss something this good, so the ingredient  – once available in Japanese grocers only – it is now widely available.

  1. Start with the rice. Wash the rice for 2-3 minutes, changing water often until the water is clear. Leave it to drain for 25 minutes. Put the rice and cold water in a large heavy pan with a lid and bring rapidly to the boil. Reduce to lowest heat setting and place the lid on the pan. Cook for 15 minutes and turn off the heat leaving the lid on for a further 15 minutes. (Don’t open the lid during the cooking.)
  2. Heat the stock and water. Use a separate sauce pan and bring to the boil.
  3. Prepare, fry and boil the vegetables – then make the sauce. Wash, peel and chop the vegetables and put into a large deep pan. Add the bay leaves and fry gently for 10 minutes. Add the hot stock and water and bring to a simmer cook for 15 minutes – or until the potatoes and carrots are nearly cooked. (Move onto the chicken whilst the vegetables are cooking.) To finish the sauce, peel and make very thin julienne pieces of ginger about 2 cm long, chop the curry cubes and add the ginger and curry to the pan stirring until the cubes have dissolved – continue to simmer for 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are still firm but tender.
  4. Prepare and shallow fry the chicken. Turn the fillets so the smooth outer side is facing down. Cut flaps in the fillet in both directions and open out – you now have a fillet half the thickness. You can use it like this or flatten it a little more. To flatten further, put the fillet in between two pieces of cling and beat gently with a meat hammer or rolling pin. Cut into 2 or 3 manageable pieces. Make 4 bowls with milk,  flour, 1 or 2 beaten eggs, and panko. Work the chicken through these bowls in the order given, using one hand for a dry bowl and one for the wet. Stack on a plate and continue with the rest of the chicken. Heat a large deep pan with about 2 cm of oil – get the oil to 180 C – and fry the chicken. You are aiming to keep the oil very hot (but without smoking) this will give you golden pieces of chicken, without being over or under-cooked
  5. Assemble and serve. Whilst the chicken is cooking the other parts will be ready. Cut the chicken if you are using chopsticks or leave whole. Serve with rice and curry sauce. Edamame beans would be a good side dish.

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