By Gary Fenn, October 30, 2012
Whenever my son is offered a treat out to a restaurant, say for a birthday or good school report, before I’ve even finished the question he replies “Wagamama“. And he always orders the same thing: chicken katsu curry.
I’ve hard arguments with people on Twitter about Wagamama in the past; that it is lowest common denominator stuff, that it’s Westernised muck… they are aiming at global appeal to be sure. I can’t speak to its authenticity but I know I like what their kitchen serves up. My favourite dish by a long shot is yaki soba, and I must’ve had it a hundred times in and out of the restaurant.
But the katsu curry is really good too. Super-crunchy chicken and a spiky curry sauce, with fluffy rice to soak it up. I have got the Wagamama cookbook but this recipe isn’t in there, so here’s my interpretation which I think is pretty damn close. They have salad alongside theirs, I went with some more Autumnal veg in fitting with October diets. But it’s the curry sauce I’m absolutely overjoyed with, a dead simple and really tasty condiment that goes with so many things.
Chicken katsu curry (serves 4):
4 chicken breasts
100g panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons flour
Mugful basmati rice
1 star anise
3 cardamom pods
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 Knorr chicken stock pot
White wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Patak’s curry paste (whichever flavour you like)
400ml coconut milk (I like Maggi’s powder)
- You’ll need two frying pans and two saucepans on the go for this one. Sorry about that. You should also put the oven on a low setting, about 100°C and pop a baking tray in there.
- Get the large saucepan over a medium heat and add the rice, the star anise, cloves, cardamom and two mugfuls of water. Cover and stir occasionally while you get on with everything else.
- In another saucepan, gently fry the carrots for a minute in a little oil. Then barely cover the carrots with water and add half the stock pot. Simmer. After 5 minutes, add the peppers and when all the liquid is reduced add a punch of sugar and a dash of vinegar – check for seasoning.
- In a saucepan over a high heat, add the curry paste and cook out for a minute. Then add the coconut milk and the other half of the stock pot. Simmer until thick.
- Get a large frying pan, cover the base with oil and set it over a medium heat. Between two pieces of clingfilm bash the chicken breasts with a rolling pin until 1.5cm thick. Dust with seasoned flour, dip in egg then coat in breadcrumbs. Fry the chicken in batches as your pan allows, browning on both sides and transferring to the baking tray while you finish the rest.
- When all the chicken is cooked, the rice is fluffy (it will probably need some salt and pepper) and the veg is tender, serve with lashings of the curry sauce.