Chicken Katsu

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If you weren’t familiar with Japanese cuisine, you might not think there’s anything particularly Japanese about katsu, a simple dish of breaded and fried cutlets. But if you’ve ever been in a Japanese shopping mall food court, you’d see that just like pizza in the U.S., katsu has established itself so firmly in the food culture that it could easily be considered a national comfort food staple. It’s an easy dish to love. Juicy chicken or pork cutlets in an incredibly crisp layer of golden-brown bread crumbs with a sweet and savory sauce and a side of crisp shredded cabbage and steamed white rice is an easy and delicious weeknight meal, whether you buy it at the food court or fry it in your own kitchen.

Chicken Katsu

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Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves or 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (about 5 ounces; 140g)
  • 3 eggs, thoroughly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups Japanese-style breadcrumbs (panko)(about 5 ounces; 140g)
  • Vegetable, canola, or peanut oil for frying

Instructions

  1. If using chicken breasts: Cut each breast half into two cutlets, place them one at a time in a heavy-duty zipper-lock bag and pound gently to 1/4 inch using a meat pounder or the bottom of a heavy 8-inch skillet. Season generously with salt and pepper. Proceed immediately to Step 3. (see this guide for step-by-step directions). For best results, let them rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to overnight after salting. Proceed to Step 3.
  2. If using thighs or pork cutlets, place them one at a time in a heavy duty zipper-lock bag and pound gently to 1/4 inch using a meat pounder or the bottom of a heavy 8-inch skillet. Season generously with salt and pepper. Proceed immediately to Step 3.
  3. Set 3 wide, shallow bowls or high-rimmed plates a work surface. Add flour to the first one, beaten eggs to the second, and panko to the third. Working with one at a time, dredge a cutlet in flour with your first hand, shaking off excess. Transfer to egg dish, then turn cutlet with your second hand to coat both sides. Lift and allow excess egg to drain off, then transfer to bread crumb mixture. With your first hand, scoop bread crumbs on top of cutlet, then gently press, turning cutlet to ensure a good layer of crumbs on both sides. Transfer cutlet to a clean plate and repeat with remaining cutlets. If done properly, your first hand should only touch dry ingredients while your second half should only touch wet, making them easier to clean.
  4. Fill a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet with 1/3 inch of oil. (To speed things up even more, use 2 skillets simultaneously.) Heat over high heat until shimmering and just shy of smoking, about 350°F (175°C) on an instant-read thermometer.
  5. Using tongs or your fingers, gently lower cutlets into the hot fat, laying them down away from you to prevent hot fat from splashing toward you. (Work in batches if necessary.) Fry, gently swirling pan and rotating cutlets for even browning, and adjusting heat as necessary for a steady, vigorous bubble, (around 300 to 325°F; 150 to 160°C) until bottom side is set, about 1 1/2 minutes. Flip cutlets and fry until other side is set, about 1 1/2 minutes longer. Continue cooking, swirling frequently and flipping occasionally until well-browned on both sides, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt right away. Repeat with remaining cutlets.
  6. Slice katsu into thin strips and serve immediately with shredded cabbage, lemon wedges, white rice, Japanese pickles, and tonkatsu sauce.

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