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19th September 2023 - Aaron Bulging
Street Food - Japan
Katsu Curry Box
Aaron's first week of the Street Food Course proper features a mishmash of Asian fusion dishes:
'slaw, salt & pepper chips and katsu curry.
But first a history lesson Yaaaaawn!

Japan adopted the western habit of breading and frying thin cuts of meat some time around 1900, possibly calling them katsuretsu as an oriental approximation of the French cotelette. They were made following the traditional French paner process of dipping them in flour, eggs, then breadcrumbs before frying. Except the breadcrumbs were panko (from particularly airy, crispy, flaky bread) just to be different.
These gradually became known as just katsu in their original form of breaded beef steaks, then pork tonkatsu ("ton" being pig), and torikatsu for chicken cutlets often first marinated in buttermilk and dressed with sweet wine.
Finally these cutlets were joined by the popular Japanese re-interpretation of Westerners' interpretation of Indian curry sauce.
And thus was Katsu Curry born!

The story behind Salt and Pepper Chips is even more intriguing - apparently having been developed in Liverpool's Chinese immigrant-owned fish and chip shops from combining the toppings for salt and pepper squid, chicken wings or ribs with the allegedly insatiable Scouser appetite for chips.

Put these together with a generic Asian version of the 18th century Dutch koolsla and you have this week's street-food box.

An Asian Fusion Hodge-Podge!
Torikatsu with Curry Sauce
A Western-Japanese Fusion
Salt & Pepper Chips
A British-Chinese Fusion
Asian Slaw
A Dutch-Asian Fusion!

Torikatsu - Chicken Cutlets
main oriental fowl
Unlike most Japanese chicken katsu cutlets these are just floured, not breaded.

Serves 2

In a large bowl place your chicken thighs in the buttermilk and leave to coat.
In another bowl add the spices and flour and combine together.
Place your chicken in the flour and spice blend and coat, then place in a deep fat fryer to go golden or shallow fry in 2-3cm of vegetable oil until golden each side and add to the oven at 180°C for 8 minutes.
They turned out nice and crispy, I must admit.

Asian Slaw
oriental salad veg vegan
This makes far more than you will need to accompany the katsu quantities. But knock yourself out.

Serves 6

Finely shred all the vegetables and place in a bowl with spices, sauces, oils and seasonings and combine.

Katsu Ketchup
oriental sauce veg vegan
Katsu cutlets are mostly served either with a dipping sauce created by mixing (Japanese) ketchup, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce, particularly when eaten as a sandwich, or a curry sauce made from a block of dried commercial curry roux. You can make your own roux from frying flour and curry powder in a little oil.

Aaron's version here is a little different, and leans more towards Wagamama's legendary curry sauce made by blending softened vegetables and curry powder. Though their sauce uses coconut milk instead of vinegar.

You pays your money, you makes your choice. Though I can't help feeling rice vinegar might have been a more appropriate choice than wine?

Serves 2

Roughly chop all the ingredients and sauté in a pan with a little oil for 3-4 minutes until softened.
Add the water, vinegar and spices and leave to simmer for 20 minutes (topping up with more water as required). Blend, then pass (through a sieve), cook to reduce if necessary, and cool.
Quite tasty - it should thicken to a ketchup consistency when it's cold.

Salt & Pepper Chips
oriental side staple veg
Given that this was developed by thieving thrifty Chinese Scouser fish 'n' chip shop owners, you would normally expect it to consist mostly of onion, with just the odd chunk of pepper thrown in. If you're lucky.

Serves 2

Cut the potatoes into fries, chips or wedges. Season and mix with oil then bake in the oven at 180°C for 20 minutes unless you're in a chip shop.
Set aside when cooked.
Slice the pepper, onion and chilli. You can cut them as you like, but would usually be in fairly large chunks.
In a hot wok or large pan, stir-fry the vegetables for 3 minutes, then season with salt, pepper and five-spice powder.
Add any extras you fancy - if you're using whole Sichuan peppercorns you should fry them first.
Add the chips and combine everything together in the pan.
If you're pissed. Or Scouse. But I repeat myself.