New York City is one of those places where you can live here all your life and still not know everything there is to know about it. It never ceases to surprise and amuse, and it seems to morph everyday into something new and almost unrecognizable. During the winter when Central Park was submerged under like 4 feet of snow, I accidentally walked across the Lake, thinking it was one of the meadows. It wasn’t until I noticed that my footprints were blue-hued that I freaked out and cautiously made my way to shore. During the winter, the park was completely transformed. And now that summer is just around the corner, the meadow is dotted with picnickers and families and lawn blankets, and the bandshell is getting ready to host the best free music and performing artists the city has to offer. Another example – I’ve been jogging along the Hudson River for the last 9 months (geez – have I been a Manhattanite THAT long already?), and only today did I realize that the Riverbank State Park even existed. It is a one-of-a-kind rooftop park, complete with skate rink, garden, football field, Olympic-size pool, tons of picnic areas, amphitheater, tennis courts – I could go on and on and on. In all these months while I was jogging along the river and under the highway overpass, it never occurred to me to look UP. And lo and behold – what a gem of a park.
Today, I am revisiting a wonderful meal I had back in Tokyo. At every major train station in Tokyo, there are always a few curry shops located throughout the station. Small and jam packed with well-dressed and usually male customers eating alone at the counters, these curry shops really redefined ‘fast food’ for me. Unlike Southeast Asian curries or even Indian curries, Japanese curry has the consistency of gravy and I believe it is roux based. Usually served with white rice, Japanese curry makes for a delicious and satisfying meal, something I don’t associate with fast food. Japanese curry can be easily made at home using instant curry blocks or powder that you can find at most Asian supermarkets. Simply dissolve the curry in some water and add to cooked veggies/meat for a quick easy meal at home. My spin on Japanese curry serves 2-3.
Japanese Katsu Curry
For the katsu –
3 fillets of chicken breast/thigh [pork loin is good too]
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper
a sprinkle of sugar
2 eggs beaten + 2tbs water
2 tsp garlic powder
flour, to coat
Panko bread crumbs
For the curry –
1 block curry mix
2-3 cups unsalted/low sodium chicken stock [water ok]
2 large potatoes, cubed
2 smallish carrot, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
To prepare the curry, liberally coat a saucepan with veggie oil and heat on medium-high. Sautee potatoes until soft and fully cooked. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and sautee until tender. Add the chicken stock or water (I typically use water bc the curry roux is already REALLY salty) and bring to a simmer in your saucepan. Add the cube of curry roux and stir to dissolve. Allow to simmer until thickened, and cook on low heat while you prepare the next step. If the curry is too thick, simply add 1/4 cups of water at a time, until you’ve reached the desired consistency. Remember – this type of curry is suppose to be thick and gravy-like.
To prepare the katsu, flatten each fillet of chicken or pork tenderloin by lining it with plastic wrap and gently pounding the meat flat. This is to ensure faster and even cooking. For large pieces of thigh or breast, I usually slice them in half to make them thinner. Season each side of meat with salt, pepper, minced garlic, and just a teeny sprinkle of sugar. Allow to marinate in fridge at least 30 minutes prior to cooking.
Fill a frying pan or skillet with a good half-inch of veggie oil and preheat to ~350*F (ideal frying temp). I know this sounds like a crazy amount of oil, but it makes frying more efficient. Also, to test if your oil is hot enough, you can test-drop a bit of Panko into the pan, and if it sizzles – you’re ready to go. Conversely, if your oil is too hot, the Panko will burn before the meat cooks, so make sure to watch/maintain/control the cooking temp carefully as you fry.
Meanwhile, setup your katsu station with 3 dishes (or saucers) large enough for the meat, and fill one with all purpose flour and garlic powder, another with the beaten egg, and the last one with Panko. For each chicken fillet or tenderloin, lightly dredge in flour, and toss to remove excess before dunking into egg mixture. Cover completely, remove and allow excess to drip off before liberally coating with Panko. Repeat for all pieces of meat.
Fry one fillet at a time until both sides are evenly browned, and remove to drain oil (plate + paper towel works well). To assemble the dish, simply plate rice and katsu, then drown the rice and katsu in delicious curry sauce. I hope you enjoy!
*Note: In case anyone is wondering, in this version, I also added tiny strips of cooked pork belly to the curry for some extra protein (and clean out my fridge). So goooood.
So to update everyone, I finally found summer work and can’t be more excited for my first grown-up job experience! I get to explore the world of health care consulting and learn more about outcomes research. All those months of searching has FINALLY paid off. The only downside is that I won’t be in lovely California for the summer – and while I’m bummed about not being with my family and closest friends – I’m also equally excited for the prospect of Summer Stage in Central Park; frolicking at the Botanical Gardens; the Alexander McQueen exhibit at The Met; picnics on the Hudson waterfront – a lot to look forward to this summer. I can hardly wait!
An on that note, I hope everyone has a very merry Mother’s Day. Mommy, if you’re reading, love you lots and can’t wait to be home next week!