Chicken Katsu is a standard plate lunch offering. Most of the fine dining establishments that serve plate lunches offer it as a choice for your entree. And, when I say fine dining, I mean anywhere that serves you lunch on a paper plate or in a styrofoam lunch container with a plastic fork and knife.
Speaking of plate lunch serving ware - does anyone else totally miss the paper plate inside a box? Remember, when every plate lunch you got came on a paper plate, not styrofoam and it was in a bakery style box. I just remember the awe I felt when I opened the top of that box to reveal the treasure inside. Whether it was teriyaki on a bed of cabbage, chili and a hot dog, teri chicken, a veal cutlet drenched in rich, brown gravy. Save me - I could go on and on. The problem is that if I go on and on, I will add pounds and pounds onto my under 5 foot frame.
So, back to the Chicken Katsu plate. Here in Illinois - I have three choices: 1) I can go to the very big Japanese store, Mitsuwa, about 30 minutes away and go to their food court for a Japanese style Chicken Katsu. 2) I can drive to Chicago, about an hour away on a good day, where there is an actual place that serves mediocre plate lunches, 3) I can make Chicken Katsu, rice, and macaroni salad at home with my own two little hands.
Today, I chose the third option because it is just too crazy cold to be driving all over for a taste of Chicken Katsu. Besides, my homemade plate lunch tastes better than the other two options. Usually, I make my Chicken Katsu with the 3-step battering approach. Flour, egg wash (egg diluted with a little water), and then panko (Japanese breadcrumbs). This time I decided to try a recipe that is supposed to be L&L Drive-Inn's. This recipe is from the By Request - The Search for Hawaii's Greatest Recipes cookbook from Betty Shimabukuro. I bought this cookbook on our latest visit to Honolulu. I have to tell you why I bought it.
It includes a request I made to her about 7 years ago for the Kapiolani Bakery Prune Cake Recipe. It is on pages 120 & 121 of the cookbook. She should've asked me, I would've let her use my name. This prune cake recipe is not the right one though. I recently found another one that I am going to try. I have to tell you that I have the proof that it is me. I have the article cut from the paper and it still comes up on an internet search. So, enter my name and prune cake and you will find it. Sad, but true, I am associated in the world wide web with prune cake. Back to the Katsu.
The Close Up:
L&L Chicken Katsu
15 to 20 chicken thighs, boned and skinned (I use chicken breasts)
1 pound panko
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp. each salt, white pepper, garlic powder
1 cup water
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/4 cups water
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. each chicken bouillon, white pepper, garlic pepper
dash of Tabasco sauce
Preheat oil to 325 degrees.
Open the chicken thighs and flatten. (This is where I do things differently because I am lazy.) I just cut the chicken horizontally into thinner pieces. I also use chicken breasts because my kids prefer them and they are a little healthier. Like it matters when it is deep fried.
Combine batter ingredients. Coat chicken in batter, then in panko. Fry in oil until golden brown and crispy.
To make Katsu Sauce: Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. To thicken, add a small amount of cornstarch dissolved in water. (I did not do this. I just cooked it down until it was thick.) Chill.
L&L Katsu Sauce:
Mom's Katsu Sauce Recipe:
To make my Mom's Katsu Sauce:
1/3 cup A-1 Steak Sauce
2 tsp. ketchup (she spells it catsup)
1 tsp. shoyu (soy sauce for the haoles)
2 tsp. sugar
dash of pepper
dash of hot pepper sauce
Mix all ingredients together.
The one on the left is the L&L and my mom's recipe is on the right:
So, we had to do a taste test. We tried our usual Katsu sauce recipe from my mom and the L&L Sauce. The L&L sauce is much sweeter. Mom's is much more A-1 based. Since my little guy could take A-1 intravenously, he likes mom's better. The rest of us couldn't decide. They are both so different. Mom's is much easier because it does not require any cooking. You can do your own taste test.
As for the katsu, I think I will go back to my way salt and pepper the chicken then dip in flour, egg wash, and panko. The panko seems to love the chicken more. It hangs on for dear life. The L&L stayed on also, but required more ingredients and time. And,in the end, there isn't much of a taste difference.
By the way, this homemade plate lunch also included, what I like to call, my Lazy Okole Mac Salad. By the way - I usually use another word for okole that rhymes with pass, gas, and bypass. Heehee. All I do to make this is boil up some macaroni, drain, add some grated carrot, salt, pepper, and Best Foods (Hellmann's) mayonnaise. And, I insist on Best Foods or Hellmann's -depending where you live.
So, go cook up your own Katsu! I am already thinking of the next plate lunch. Maybe - Korean - yes, Meat Juhn or Kal Bi with Bean Sprout Namul. While I am thinking of the next plate lunch my hubby and the two younger ones have been stricken with too much Chicken Katsu...just look at them.