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Chicken Katsu has crispy, panko-coated chicken breasts that are fried until golden, then served with tonkatsu sauce for dipping.
What is Chicken Katsu?
It’s a breaded and fried chicken cutlet served at many Japanese restaurants around the world. The word “katsu” is derived from the English word “cutlet.” It is sometimes also made with pork cutlets (aka tonkatsu).
Chicken Katsu is sometimes simply called panko chicken – a nod to the type of breadcrumbs used to coat the chicken. Panko fries up extra light and crispy, giving this dish a delicious and distinctive crunch.
Chicken Katsu is typically served with tonkatsu sauce on the side for dipping or drizzled over the top of the chicken. Tonkatsu is a thick, rich brown sauce made with fruits, vegetables, sake, and spices. You can buy it – or make your own. (We used a few short-cut ingredients to make a very easy homemade tonkatsu sauce, and it’s included in our recipe below.)
Our favorite Asian restaurant serves Chicken Katsu with white rice, shredded green cabbage, and slivers of red radish – which, at first, seemed so plain and basic. But when you take a bite of a piece of the panko fried chicken, dipped in sauce, along with a little of each side – you’ll understand. The flavors and textures go perfectly together!
Why you’ll love Chicken Katsu
- It’s a simple and delicious way to prepare tender, juicy chicken breasts.
- Combined with the sauce and sides, Chicken Katsu is a light and refreshing meal that tastes just like the dish served at your favorite Japanese restaurant.
- This is also a kid-friendly dish – any chicken nugget-loving kid will enjoy chicken katsu!
Key Ingredients & Substitutions
- Chicken – Choose boneless skinless chicken breasts, each about ten ounces in weight.
- All–Purpose Flour
- Large Eggs
- Mirin – This is a sweet Japanese cooking wine that we mixed with the eggs to create an egg wash for battering the chicken. If you prefer, just use water instead.
- Panko Breadcrumbs – Buy unseasoned panko breadcrumbs for this recipe.
- Tonkatsu Sauce – Our simple homemade version is a mix of ketchup, granulated sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and bottled oyster sauce. Or you can buy tonkatsu sauce online or at your local Asian market.
- Cooked White Rice – For serving.
- Green Cabbage – Also for serving, very thinly sliced green cabbage is traditional, but Napa cabbage is a nice, tender cabbage and a great alternative.
- Red Radish – For serving.
Additional Serving Suggestion
- Sometimes, hot Chinese-style mustard or Dijon mustard is served on the side with Chicken Katsu. We decided to omit the mustard, but feel free to use it as a condiment if you wish.
Special Tools Needed
- Cutting Board and Sharp Knife
- Various Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Three Large Shallow Bowls or Pie Plates – To bread the chicken
- Small bowl – To mix the Tonkatsu sauce
- Large Wok, Cast Iron Pan, or Carbon Steel Pan – To fry the chicken
- Mesh Strainer
- Sheet Tray Covered in Paper Towels – To drain the cooked chicken
- Vegetable Oil – For frying
- Deep-Fry/Candy Thermometer
- Quick-Read Probe Thermometer – To check for chicken doneness (optional, but highly recommended)
- Condiment Cups or “Pinch” Bowls – To serve the sauce on the side.
How do I make Chicken Katsu?
- Cook white rice according to package instructions.
- Butterfly the chicken but do not pound it thin.
- Set up seasoned flour, egg wash, and panko breadcrumbs in three bowls.
- Bread each chicken breast in flour, then dip in the egg wash, then the coat in the panko crumbs. Set aside.
- Make the tonkatsu sauce by mixing the four ingredients together.
- Finely shred the cabbage and soak in ice water for 15 minutes. Drain well.
- Cut the radish into slivers.
- Heat wok or skillet with vegetable or canola oil and fry each piece of chicken. Place on pan with paper towels and season with salt then hold in a low oven until all chicken is cooked.
- Serve cooked chicken slices over rice with shredded cabbage, slivered radish, and tonkatsu sauce.
Tips & Tricks
- Butterflying the chicken vs pounding is crucial in this recipe to yield a piece of chicken that is an even thickness for uniform cooking, but not overly thin. (Pounding chicken breasts has its place in some recipes, but not in this one.) The thicker, butterflied chicken will fry up nice and juicy.
- With four large, cooked pieces of chicken breast, each person should get about half of one cooked breast, sliced into thick strips.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I make Chicken Katsu ahead of time? You can butterfly the chicken and bread it a couple of hours ahead of time, but you should fry it just before serving.
- How do I store leftovers? Store refrigerated for up to three days.
- How do I reheat leftovers? The already-fried chicken is best when reheated in an oven until just heated through. (Don’t over bake and dry it out.) Microwaving the leftover chicken will not yield a crispy crust.
- Can I freeze? Yes. Wrap each breast tightly in plastic or freeze in an airtight container. Reheat as directed above.
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1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice
4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 2 1/2 pounds
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
4 whole eggs with two tablespoons water
3 cups panko breadcrumbs
Vegetable or canola oil to fill about four inches in pan
Green cabbage, finely shredded and soaked in ice water for 15 minutes (drain well)
Red radish, cut into slivers
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup oyster sauce
- Start cooking the white rice per package instructions, then set aside to keep warm once done.
- Butterfly the chicken breasts but do not pound. After butterflying, the large pieces should be uniform in thickness.
- Place flour, salt and white pepper in a medium bowl or pie plate.
- Whisk eggs and water in another medium bowl or pie plate.
- Place panko in a third large bowl or pie plate.
- Dredge the chicken pieces in flour, shake excess, then in egg and shake excess then in panko. Press the panko firmly onto both sides and reapply more panko before frying to make sure each piece is thoroughly coated. (Really press it in)
- Heat the oil to 350 degrees F.
- While the oil is heating, turn oven to 250 degrees F.
- Line a sheet tray with paper towels.
- Shred the cabbage and cut the radish into slivers.
- In a small bowl, make the tonkatsu sauce by whisking the four ingredients.
- Once the oil is heated, fry one large piece at a time for about 2-3 minutes until golden in color and floating in the oil. Try to adjust the flame to maintain 350 degrees F. Remove the piece and use a probe thermometer to check for 155 degrees F.
- Remove to the pan to drain and sprinkle lightly with salt. (We used pink sea salt, but Kosher is fine) Then place in warming oven.
- Wait for the oil to recover back to 350 degrees F and continue with the remaining three pieces as before, moving each to the warming oven as they are fried.
- To serve, cut chicken on a cutting board into thick slices from one end to the other. Place rice on a serving dish and lay slices over the rice. Serve with the shredded cabbage, slivered radish, and the tonkatsu sauce on the side. With four large, cooked pieces of chicken, each person should get about half of one cooked breast, sliced into thick slices.
- Alternatively, you could drizzle the tonkatsu sauce over the cooked slices.
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- With four large, cooked pieces of chicken, each person should get about half of one cooked breast, sliced into thick slices.
- Nutritional information below includes the sauce and sides.