When it comes to most popular spectator sports, I’m shamefully oblivious. I lived in San Francisco for two years and my only experiences related to the Giants were on my runs after work, when I’d be forced to navigate the orange-clad crowds milling hectically around AT&T Park like some enormous blown up study of Brownian motion. I am one of few avid followers of track, figure skating, and gymnastics in non-Olympic years… but I can count on one hand the number of SuperBowl parties I’ve attended where the TV, and not the buffet table, captured most of my attention. My indifference knows no bounds. For months, I was puzzled by the midnight blue-and-gold Yelp / Eat24 ads all across SF that proclaimed: “WE LOVE CURRY! And pizza, and wings, and sushi. Mmmmm….” Wasn’t Yelp supposed to be unbiased, all-encompassing, objective? I too love curry. But this was bizarre.
Weeks of confusion later, I became a little more familiar with Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors, and their road to winning the 2015 NBA finals. It helped that Riley Curry became a national phenomenon, which frankly ranked higher on my priority list. The ad made a little more sense.
Now that I’m in New York, I can walk around shouting “I LOVE CURRY!” all I want and the meaning will be perfectly unambiguous. And it’s true! In my opinion, you can curry almost anything; the taste of meat or produce completely skyrockets with an added layer of sharp heat and spice. I love curry, and kimbap, and chicken katsu so crisp with panko crumbs that it splinters into sharp fragments in your mouth….
So, katsu curry kimbap: I don’t think it needs much more introduction than this, if you’ve had any of the components separately. Chicken katsu is a traditional Japanese dish where thin strips of chicken cutlet are pounded, breaded, and deep-fried – kind of like a giant, juicy chicken nugget with a much higher crust-to-meat ratio. It’s often served with Japanese curry sauce, which is not quite as heavy as Indian curry, since there’s typically not dairy involved (sometimes butter to cook the aromatics). Thickened with flour and flavored with onion, carrots, apple, and a blend of spices, it’s hearty and warming and impossibly addicting with rice. Kimbap, a Korean side or lunchbox snack, is similar to sushi but is filled with vegetables, egg, and meats rather than raw fish and seasoned with sesame oil rather than rice vinegar.
Who says this doesn’t deserve its own billboard?
Katsu Curry Kimbap Recipe (serves 2 for a meal, 4 for snacking)
- 4 sheets of nori (dried seaweed)
- 1 1/2 - 2 cups of cooked rice (warm is easier to work with, so reheat it if you are using leftover rice)
- 1 batch Japanese curry sauce (ingredients / recipe below)
- 2 chicken katsu cutlets (ingredients / recipe below)
- 3 eggs
- 1 red pepper, cut into flat strips (curved ends will be hard to roll)
- 1/2 carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
- 2 cups of spinach leaves
- Sesame oil
Ingredients: Curry Sauce
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 tbsp flour
- 3 slices of ginger
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 dried shiitake mushroom, rehydrated and sliced
- 2 tbsp of tomato paste
- 2.5 tbsp of S&B curry powder
- 1 tsp of turmeric
- 1 tsp of chili flakes
- 1 small Fuji apple, grated
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- 1 tsp of fish sauce
- 1.5 tbsp of soy sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 medium potato, cut into chunks
- 1/2 carrot, sliced into quarter-inch thin slices
- Salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients: Chicken Katsu
- 2 thin cutlets of chicken breast
- Milk, for marinating (optional)
- 1 egg, beaten with some water
- 1/2 cups panko crumbs
- 1/2 cup flour
- Salt and pepper, for seasoning
The day before: pound chicken cutlets into even thickness, and marinate in a shallow dish in milk. This is optional, but it helps to tenderize the meat and keep it juicy.
Prepare the curry sauce: Over low heat, sweat the onions for 30 minutes in 3 tbsp of oil. When they are translucent and fragrant, raise the heat to medium high and add flour, ginger, garlic, shiitake mushroom. Stir-fry until thick and well-combined and a little pasty, for 1 min. Add in the curry powder, turmeric, chili, and grated apple; toast for 1 more minute until fragrant. Pour in the chicken stock, soy sauce, fish sauce, and bay leaf, and stir to combine well. When it begins to simmer, add in the sliced carrot and potato. Cook, covered, over low to medium low heat for 45 minutes, tasting for added seasoning and spices. If it gets too dense, add some water, but Japanese curry is traditionally pretty hearty and thick.
Prepare kimbap fillings: Separately saute the carrot matchsticks, red pepper sticks, and spinach over medium-high heat to remove the raw taste. Saute the spinach until completely wilted (spinach should be sauteed in sesame oil). Beat 3 eggs with salt and heat oil over high heat in a non-stick pan. Pour the eggs into the pan, swirling so they coat the pan. When the egg starts releasing from the pan (~2 minutes), flip the egg-pancake to cook the other side (~1 minute). Remove from heat and slice into 1/2 inch thick long slices.
Prepare the katsu: beat 1 egg with water in a shallow dish, and have one plate of panko bread crumbs and 1 plate of flour in your breading assembly line. With one hand, take your chicken cutlet and dip it into the flour, covering it completely; tap off the excess. Transfer the chicken cutlet to the other hand and dip it into the egg mixture, coating it completely. Then, using the same hand, dip the cutlet into the panko, which should bind to the egg and form a crust. Repeat with the other cutlet.
Cook the katsu: Usually, katsu is deep-fried, but for a lighter version, I pan-fry and bake. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Heat vegetable oil over high heat; when shimmering, drop in one cutlet and sear for 2 minutes on each side. Transfer cutlets to a small, non-stick roasting rack (air circulation will allow for more crispiness) or a parchment-lined pan and finish cooking in the oven for 6 minutes. When cool enough to handle, slice the katsu into thin strips.
Assemble the katsu curry kimbap: Lay out the nori onto a sushi mat (or a clean tea towel, but a sushi mat works best). Spread a thin layer of warm rice onto the nori, using a wooden spoon or rice scoop, pressing as firmly as you can. Spoon on some katsu sauce along with small pieces of potato or onion if desired; no need to spread it completely because it will naturally spread as you roll. Place the slices of katsu, carrot, egg, red pepper, and spinach in an even distribution across the center of the mat; see photos above. Make sure to leave rice on both sides. Using the sushi mat, roll one end of the nori / rice over the fillings; press the fillings very firmly otherwise it will come across when you slice it and not look as visually attractive. Continue to press tightly and roll, pushing out the mat so it doesn't get rolled into the kimbap. The fillings may spill out slightly. The rice at the end should seal the kimbap shut. Remove from the mat and place seam side down on a plate, and repeat with remaining ingredients.
Slice the kimbap: Keep a paper towel soaked in sesame oil handy. Cut the messy ends off the kimbap rolls (can, and should, be sampled!) Slice into 1/2 inch thick (or desired thickness) slices; serve with remaining curry sauce.