Having not been able to drive for 6 months a letter from the DVLA just before Christmas bought a big smile to my face, with Doctors exchanging letters I could get back behind the wheel as long as I met the conditions, which I did. So with the busy season out of the way a trip to our local specialist asian shop near Reading meant I could experiment with some more unusual ingredients, herbs and spices.
七味唐辛子 or Seven Spice Powder is a Japanese Spice Mix that is quite unusual, containing Roasted Orange Peel, Black and White Sesame Seeds, Ground (“Japanese pepper”) and several other spices to make a fragrant addition to a variety of dishes.
Trying to find this ‘special’ mix in the asian supermarket was proving to be a problem but a quick google bought up a picture of the bottle and it was staring me in the face from the shelf!!I had a helper for this exercise in oriental cooking, our son Justin, who is 9 years old. When I was at Junior School, I joined a cookery club which is probably where my interest in cooking started, we don’t have that pleasure at the moment but when I asked if he wanted to help me, his eyes lit up and we had some fantastic time in the kitchen.
There are many recipes for Katsu Curry on the internet, and Simon Rimmer cooked it on Sunday Brunch this weekend which was a real coincidence. My version is a combination of the Hairy Bikers version in their Asian Adventure book, and Simons’ although I replaced the Chicken which is traditional, with King Prawns.You need to dry roast the ‘hard’ spices first, Cumin Seeds, Coriander Seeds, Fenugreek Seeds, Fennel Seeds, Green Cardamom (which I de-podded 1st, removing the green outer skin). Once you can smell the aromas wafting from the pan, transfer to a pestle & mortar and grind to a smooth powder. As we were adding ingredients to the pan, my little helper was inquisitive as to where all the spices came from, so we added a bit of geography to the cooking as well as sniffing each of them and trying to describe the smell! You will also need some Garam Masala and fresh Turmeric if you can get it, powdered if not.Once the dry ingredients were done (put a tea spoon of it to one side, you will need it later), we started on the Onion, Carrot, Galangal, Red Chilli’s and Garlic which are all gently fried in a little oil until browned and then the Spice Mix and some Tomato Concentrate added, cooking for a couple of minutes.
Then, Coconut Milk and Chicken Stock were added, simmering slowly for about 20-25 minutes. I had some home made Chicken Stock which I made a few months back and froze in 1 pint bags, much better than anything shop bought with minimal salt and no added nasties. Its worth spending some time making your own stocks and freezing them, healthy and minimal salt which is good for everyone.
Simon Rimmer went for Honey in his recipe as the sweetening agent, Si and Dave just say sugar. I have some Jaggery in the cupboard which is unrefined Indian Palm Sugar, toffee like and in blocks which you can grate into all sorts so although not geographically appropriate I used about a tea spoon.My little helper kept the questions coming as he helped prepare the ‘Katsu” Curry, once the sauce had been simmering for 20-25 minutes it needs processing or blending with a ‘Stick’, I have a trusty Swiss ‘Bamix’ which has interchangeable blades and must be over 15 years old now, it was a very worthwhile investment.Once you have blended the Sauce, pass it through a sieve as there will still be some fibrous material from the Galangal which will need to be removed, you should end up with a silky smooth delicious fragrant sauce which you can put to one side until you need it.
Now to the Prawns.
If you go to a well known high street store, you will pay £1.59 for 150 grms of Panko Breadcrumbs, find a decent asian supermarket and you pay about £4.35 for 1KG!! We are going to coat the King Prawns in seasoned flour and Panko but NO egg this time! I used about 3 heaped tablespoons of plain flour, added the teaspoon of prepared spice mix from earlier and 2 teaspoons of Shichi-mi tōgarashi or Seven Spice Powder, which is available in good Asian Supermarkets or mail order. The ‘glue’ is milk, which unlike egg does not shrink when cooked and tighten the prawns making for a much better end result.
Dust the Prawns in the Flour, using a slotted spoon, immerse fully in the Milk and remove quickly then into the Panko crumbs and thoroughly coat. Once done, the Prawns only need a minute in a deep fat fryer, drain on kitchen paper and keep warm. I had some quick cook Rice in the cupboard, which had a big handful of Coriander Leaf folder through and some fresh Lime Zest grated in and mixed. I served the Curry Sauce on the side with a couple of Lime Wedges.
This is a delicious dish to prepare and could be done in stages, i.e sauce on a Saturday and finish serve the following day. It was great fun to prepare with the little one helping and learning on the way. All the ingredients are easily available and you can substitute Chicken for Prawns if you want too.
If you are wondering about the title of this post, google Katsu and see what you get!
Until next time…………….L8ers………………..