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After swapping her native Kyoto for London, Reiko set up a successful Japanese catering company. It proved so popular with diners that she opened a cookery school to share some of her secrets, before penning a book chock-full of her favourite recipes. She has just released her second book and solved our dinner dilemma with this chicken and vegetable katsu recipe.
Chicken and vegetable katsu
Tonkatsu is a well-known and popular dish amongst Japanese and Western people, but it is quite rich, and at its heart is just deep-fried crumbed pork. As much as I love tonkatsu, I have created this chicken and vegetable katsu which is a much lighter and less calorific version of its original.
- 400g 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 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 130g buckwheat flour
- 150g panko breadcrumbs
- 1.5 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 (page 84)
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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’.
4. In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the mustard. Scatter the flour on a plate and do the same with the breadcrumbs.
5. 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.
6. 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.
Reiko Hashimoto’s second book, Cook Japan, Stay Slim, Live Longer is out now. For a chance to win a copy, check out our latest competition in the summer edition of east magazine.
If a taste of Japan in your kitchen doesn’t quite cut it, how about a 13-night Gastronomic Adventure in Japan? Dine at an izakaya, take a street food tour of Osaka and roll you own sushi in Reiko’s home city of Kyoto.