Gluten-free Chicken Katsu

by , under food, main course, recipes

In the past few weeks, I’ve fallen into a pattern where I wasn’t trying anything new, food-wise. I am a decent cook, but there are a lot of things I don’t make on a regular basis. Chicken is one of them. So I decided to challenge myself to making one new thing a week. I figure it gives me a couple days of wiggle room in making them- which is key when you’re a stay at home mom to two kids 5 and under. They just don’t give you the time you need. Chicken Katsu was a dish that immediately popped into my head.

After I left Disneyland, I started working in the front office for an oral surgeon in Orange County. The office manager was a girl not much older than me, and once a week when the doctor was out for a long lunch, we’d try to take a long lunch ourselves. We’d go to a little Japanese curry house that was sort of nearby, and she’d urge me to try various items from the menu. Most often I’d get the chicken katsu.

I always wanted to take TheBoy, but things never worked out. The curry house had odd hours, and combined with our odd work hours- we could never get there. So I pledged to learn to make my own katsu.

I’m very comfortable shallow frying in a pan, so when I found a recipe for chicken katsu that wasn’t deep fried… I was excited. While the curry recipes looked a little time intensive, I had tried tonkatsu sauce before, and found a recipe that looked easy enough to make.

I’m going to share the gluten free version. All the ingredients are easy enough to find, so it shouldn’t be difficult.

Tonkatsu sauce (adapted from this recipe)

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce (Lee & Perrins in the US is gluten-free)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Bragg’s amino (this was originally soy sauce- but most soy sauces aren’t gf. Bragg’s has a similar flavor profile and is also made from soy. It’s also a lot easier to find in stores than tamari or a gf soy sauce)
1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tablespoon smooth dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients but the dijon mustard and all-spice. Using a whisk, make sure the ingredients are combined well (make sure that the sugar dissolves and the ketchup seems to vanish into it). Stir it regularly until the sauce reduces by about 20%. Add the mustard and allspice and whisk until it’s well combined. Pour it into another container (it’ll help it cool faster) and set it aside.

Chicken Katsu (adapted from this recipe, All Recipes)

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons GF all-purpose flour (use your favorite mix)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup GF panko bread crumbs (or toast your favorite GF bread and make breadcrumbs)
vegetable oil

Now, the traditional dish is tonkatsu, which uses pork. But chicken is pretty common here in the states.

First, let your chicken breasts come a little closer to room temperature. I then got out a Ziploc freezer bag, which is important because you want the thicker plastic. Put a chicken breast half in the bag and flatten it out with a meat hammer (the flat side) or a heavy pan until it’s 1/2″ thick. If you thought half a chicken breast wouldn’t ever feed an adult, now you can see why- it flattens out to a pretty decent size.

Now, set up your dredging stations. You’ll need three dishes/plates that have some depth to them (pie pans work well). In one, put your gluten free flour. If you’re worried it isn’t enough, just put a little more in there. In another, crack in your egg and whisk it thoroughly. In the third, pour the breadcrumbs. Take some salt & pepper and season the breadcrumbs well. I use white pepper (if you do, use a little less than you’d use of black paper) so that you can’t see the pepper.

Get a cookie sheet and line it with paper towels, and get tongs ready. Now, fill your skillet (I use my cast iron pan for shallow frying) with about 1/4″ of oil and heat it on medium, medium-high heat… depending on how hot your range is. While the oil heats up, you can start with two of the chicken breast halves.

Making fried anything is easy. You just need to be smart about it. When dredging, try to use one hand for dipping in the flour, and the other hand for egg & breadcrumbs so that things don’t get too messy. First, coat the chicken in the flour- front, back and sides. Tap the chicken in the plate to get off any excess flour (the flour is necessary to make the egg stick). Then, put the floured chicken into the egg and coat it thoroughly. From there, put the eggy chicken into the breadcrumbs and make sure it’s covered. When you have two, gently slide them into the hot oil.

How will you know the oil is ready? If you look at it, it’ll have a slight shimmer to it. And as the original recipe mentioned, if you put a chopstick into it, bubbles will form around the chopstick.

Now, sliding. Don’t drop the breasts in, otherwise you’ll splatter yourself. So lead with one edge of the chicken breast and sort of push it across the pan, lowering the rest of the chicken breast into the oil. Repeat with the other chicken breast. It’ll take about 3-4 minutes per side- flip when its nicely golden (mine were a little bit more brown, which I expect was the breadcrumb- it didn’t taste burnt). Use a pair of tongs and remove the chicken to the paper towel lined cookie sheet and let it drain. Repeat with the other two pieces.

Serve with the tonkatsu sauce over rice.

A bit wordy, I know, but my recipe posts are for people like myself who are learning to cook from recipes and/or watching cooking shows. If you try this, let me know how it turns out!