Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Pantry in Action: Japanese-style Chicken Curry

The "Pantry in Action" series shows creative ways of using all the wonderful food we've preserved during the year. I will include recipes wherever appropriate with links back to the post(s) where a particular ingredient (or ingredients) was canned.

Okay, including this wonderful recipe in the Pantry in Action series is a real stretch since the only ingredient I have in my pantry right now is some tomato paste.  However, loving a good curry as I do, I couldn't not share this. The original recipe was published in the Toronto Star on July 16 and is actually called Chicken Katsu Curry from Scratch, but, as usual, I have tweaked it to make it freezer-friendly.

The chicken katsu is actually skinless, boneless chicken breasts, pounded thin, breaded with panko, fried until crispy then sliced into strips and served alongside the curry.  I figure the lovely crispness of the panko encrusted chicken would suffer by being frozen and thawed, so in order to make this dish more freezer-friendly (think re-stocking the freezer with ready-to-go meals), I decided to forgo the breading and frying and simply cube the chicken and include it in with the curry.

Thus, the four-part original recipe (which you can find here on the Toronto Star website) is reduced to three parts: the curry powder, the roux and the curry itself. 

The curry powder is lovely and reminds me very much of the Kowloon Curry powder I once had from Monsoon Coast, in a similar-but-different sort of way.

It couldn't be simpler:  place 1/4 cup ground turmeric, 2 tbsp ground coriander, 2 tbsp ground cumin and 2 tsp ground cardamom in a small jar or tightly lidded container.  Close the lid and shake until well blended.  It makes about a 1/2 cup which is more than plenty for this recipe and leaves you with enough to add to your spice cupboard ready for the next curry adventure!

For this recipe however, we'll be using 2 tbsp of the powder in the roux and another 1 tsp in the curry itself. I've always used coconut milk, yogourt or a combination of the two as the base for my curry sauces and for some reason it's never occurred to me to base one on a roux despite the fact that I've been making rouxs for years to thicken soups, sauces and gravies. Funny how your mind gets into ruts sometimes. So, using a roux to thicken a curry sauce shouldn't have been a big light-bulb-a-HA moment for me, but it was. I was intrigued and interested in seeing how such a curry would turn out.

So, to start, I gathered all the roux ingredients together: all purpose flour, my freshly made curry powder, some cayenne, tomato paste from my pantry, Worcestershire sauce and butter.

Start a basic roux by melting 3 tbsp butter (the recipe calls for unsalted, but all I had was regular, salted butter so that's what I used) then stirring in 1/4 cup flour, 2 tbsp curry powder, 1/2 tsp cayenne (this gives it the perfect level of heat in my opinion, sort of a mild-medium -- you might like it hotter, or not, so add cayenne at your discretion), and a few good grindings of black pepper.

Keep stirring until a cohesive paste is formed. Then add 1 tbsp tomato paste and 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce and stir some more until the mixture becomes dry and crumbly. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Gather the curry ingredients together. As mentioned above, I am including the chicken naked in with the curry instead of breading and frying it and serving it alongside. In addition, we have 2 medium white onions finely chopped, 2 large carrots scrubbed and sliced, 2-3 medium potatoes (Yukon Golds would probably work very nicely, but all I had were Russets so that's what I used), a small apple, 2 tsp kosher or sea salt and 1 tsp of that wonderful curry powder.

I cubed the chicken breasts and sautéed them with the chopped onion in a little olive oil in a large pot until the chicken is no longer pink and the onions are starting to caramelize, about 30 minutes.

Add the carrots and 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, peel, core and grate the apple. The recipe states that the apple is essential to provide the subtle fruity undertone that is characteristic of Japanese-style curries.

Once back to boiling, add the potatoes, grated apple, salt and the curry powder to the pot. Lower the heat to medium and simmer until the carrots and potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.

Gently push a ladle straight down into the curry and carefully collect some of the sauce without any of the chicken or vegetables. Collect two cups of sauce.

Pour the collected sauce into the pan of roux and whisk until smooth then pour the roux back into the curry and stir well until smoothly combined.  Cook 1 1/2 cups of basmati rice in 3 cups of water or chicken stock and divide evenly among six 2-cup freezer containers. Divide the curry evenly among the freezer containers.  You will probably have enough curry left over for another meal. Lucky you, dig in! 

This curry is so good it may be difficult to do, but if you can forgo having some immediately, refrigerate it overnight and have it the next day. Like chili, it definitely improves with age and the consistency of the sauce is perfect -- it's exactly what I have been looking for.  So, this one's definitely a keeper and I will try making it again and follow the recipe exactly, making the breaded and fried chicken katsu to serve alongside the curry.

No comments:

Post a Comment