Japanese Katsu Curry

 The Japanese have a fondness for curry which I find quite bizarre not only because it’s not indigenous to their cuisine but it seems so at odds with the very clean and precise flavours that Japanese food is known for. We’re not just talking any curry either but the real old fashioned tasting curry.  The kind made in the seventies using powder from a bright yellow tin, garish in colour and slightly sweet. But you know what? It actually tastes great. Things get stranger when you find out that the curry is made using a curry paste that looks like a bar of chocolate and which the Japanese refer to as “curry roux”. You could make the curry roux yourself but it’s a bit like puff pastry, the store bought version is so good there’s no point going through the effort to make it yourself, and I suspect making the curry roux from scratch would be an effort. So I did what any good Japanese housewife would do and purchased a block of S&B brand Golden Curry roux from the Asian aisle at the supermarket. It comes in mild, medium and hot. I used the medium but it’s by no means as spicy as “medium” heat in terms of Indian or Thai food. The Katsu part of the curry refers to the crumbed meat that accompanies the sauce. Now this meat can be either chicken or pork but it shouldn’t be thin like a schnitzel. I used pork, a cut they referred to as sirloin steaks and they were a good thickness, at least 1cm, if not more. I think the main reason why this curry works and has become so addictive and popular in both Japan and overseas is, in part, due to the breaded and fried meat it’s served with. Crispy meat accompanied by a ladle full of  old fashioned but cosily familiar curry sauce is a great combination.

Ingredients – Serves 4

4 pork steaks, not too thin
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 egg and 2 tablespoons milk, lightly beaten
Panko breadcrumbs, enough for crumbing the steaks
Vegetable oil for shallow frying pork
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, extra
1 large onion, thinly sliced
300g button mushrooms, quartered
1 cooking apple, peeled and grated
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2 cm dice
1 block S&B brand curry sauce
600ml vegetable stock
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method

Preheat oven to 150C. Season the pork steals with salt and pepper. Dust lightly with flour, then dip in beaten egg and coat with breadcrumbs, patting them on well.  Next make the curry sauce. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the onions until soft. Add the mushrooms and carrot and fry until mushrooms are soft. Add the apple  and fry for about 5 minutes over a moderately low heat. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Add the curry block, breaking it up ito small chunks and stir until melted and distributed in the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.

  

Cover and leave to simmer gently, stirring occasionally. Heat some oil in another frying pan to lightly coat the bottom. When the oil is hot add the  pork steaks and cook for a few minutes on each side until golden brown. Transfer to a sheet pan and place in the oven for about 8 minutes to ensure the steaks are cooked through.  To serve, cut the steaks into finger width strips and place one on each plate. Add a generous serve of the curry sauce to partially cover the meat and serve straight away with some steamed rice.

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