My brain briefly danced with the idea of writing a series of travel posts to memorialize our honeymoon. But free time is difficult to come by and my iPhone photos are hardly the type to evoke dreamy wanderlust so the dance came to an abrupt halt.
Alas, we’ll just have to make do with some written snapshots of, in the words of my three-tabbed, color-coded planning spreadsheet, the Best Honeymoon EVER.
Despite the language barrier, impeccable service beyond our wildest imagination. Traipsing lazily around the ryokan in colorful patterned robes, slippers, and nothing else. Early morning hot spring dips on our private balcony accompanied only by birdsong and verdant views. Exquisite multi-course meals painstakingly arranged – artfully curved sardines swimming on wavy blue plates, eel nigiri hidden within a scalloped green leaf. Gilded temples thronged with tourists but majestic nonetheless. Emerging every few hours from a 7/11 with armfuls of new snacks and drinks to try. Bustling nightlife, replete with Chinese tourists hauling heavy luggage, scantily clad women loitering the streets, and food vendors hawking their wares in four different languages. Flashing neon signs and ostentatious displays jutting over our heads as we walk off the pre-dinner okonomiyaki, already anticipating our next meal. Slurping bowls of ramen so intensely delicious we began discussing our next trip back to Japan. Walking googly-eyed through market stalls of ruby red strawberries and slabs of pink tuna carved street-side. That first indescribable bite of Kobe beef and turning to each other with goofy grins and sparkling eyes. Attempting to take selfies with deer too aloof to comply yet too friendly when presented with food.
And then there was our last dinner at a homey 10-seater with a wooden bar. We fumbled at the machine in the corner for our orders, then slid onto our stools and deposited our tickets with the waiting cook. A few minutes later, our plates arrived: a generous heap of steaming rice and crispy tonkatsu topped with curry, copious amounts of green onion, and a soft boiled egg. We ate in silence with the Japanese locals around us, mixing the golden runny yolk into the curry and rice, stopping periodically to add sweet daikon pickles from the communal bowl to our plates. By the time we scraped our plates clean, stood up and bowed our way out, I had determined to recreate this katsu curry at home.
Our Japan honeymoon may be over, but at least this katsu curry can be enjoyed time and time again.
Katsu Curry with Green Onion and Poached Egg
I’m fairly certain the egg we had in Japan was soft-boiled and not poached, but I figured poached is quick and easy, so that’s what I went with here. At the end of the day, what you’re looking for is a gloriously runny yolk. To that end, substituting a sunny side up egg would work nicely as well.
Makes more than double the sauce you need for 6 plates of katsu curry, but one can never have enough curry sauce! I always make a huge pot of curry in one go, but feel free to cut the recipe by half.
1 medium onion
1 large carrot
3-4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp oil
1/2 to 3/4 8.8 oz box of Japanese curry roux
10 cups chicken stock (about 5 cans)
3-4 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
salt and black pepper to taste
chili powder to taste
6 (about 1 1/2 lb) boneless pork loin chops
salt and black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
oil for frying
6 large eggs
2-3 tsp white vinegar (optional)
cooked white rice
2 bunches of green onions (5-6 stalks per bunch), finely diced
- Peel and roughly chop the onion, carrot, and garlic. Combine in a food processor and pulse until the vegetables have been processed into a loose paste.
- In a large pot, heat 2 tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable paste and sauté 4-5 minutes until fragrant and the vegetable liquids have come out. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.
- Once the broth is boiling, break the curry roux into small blocks. Using a ladle and a spatula, dissolve a few blocks into the broth at a time. Use the ladle to hold a few curry blocks and a small amount of hot broth while using the spatula to break up and dissolve the curry roux.
- Bring the curry sauce to a boil again then turn the heat down to a simmer. Stir in the worcestershire and soy sauces. Add the chili powder if so desired. Allow to simmer and cook down for 20-30 minutes. If you have more time, simmer it longer – the vegetables will basically dissolve in the sauce.
- After you have reduced the curry sauce to your desired consistency, taste again and adjust for seasoning. Up the umami with more worcestershire or soy sauce, or add more salt and pepper to taste. If you feel the curry taste is not strong enough, dissolve more curry roux blocks into the sauce.
- Keep the curry warm, covered and on low heat, until the remaining components of the meal are ready.
- Fill a large cast iron skillet or other sturdy cooking pan/pot that is at least 2″ deep with 1″ of cooking oil. Heat over high heat while you prepare your meat.
- Using a small knife, make a series of small perpendicular cuts along the line where the layer of fat on the pork chop meets the lean meat. You only need to do this to one side of the pork chop. This will prevent your pork chops from curling when you fry them.
- Lightly salt and pepper both sides of the pork chops.
- Prepare your breading station by lining up three large, shallow bowls next to or close to your frying station. Place the all-purpose flour in the first bowl, lightly beat the two eggs in the second, and place the panko breadcrumbs in the third.
- Line a baking tray with paper towels and place a wire rack in the tray. Place next to your frying station.
- Test if your oil is hot enough by dropping a small pinch of panko into the oil. If it floats and bubbles furiously, your oil is ready.
- Using one hand – designate this your “dry hand” – dredge a pork chop in flour on each side and shake off the excess flour. Place the floured pork chop into the beaten egg.
- Using the other hand – designate this your “wet hand” – flip the pork chop over so that both sides are coated in beaten egg. Transfer the pork chop to the panko breadcrumbs.
- Using your “dry hand”, cover both sides of the pork chop in panko and shake off any excess.
- Gently lay the breaded pork chop into the oil (away from you, so if oil splashes it doesn’t burn you).
- Repeat the breading process with 2-3 more pork chops or however many your pan can accommodate. Do not overcrowd the pan, I wouldn’t advise frying more than 4 at once.
- Turn the pork chops after 4-5 minutes (or when the bottom has reached a deep golden brown. Fry on the other side for another 4-5 minutes, then remove to the wire rack to drain.
- Repeat steps 7-12 with your remaining pork chops.
- Fill a small saucepan with 2-3 inches of water and 2-3 tsp of white vinegar if using and bring to a boil.
- Crack a fresh, cold egg into a small ramekin or measuring cup, making sure not to puncture the yolk.
- Once the water is boiling, reduce to a gentle simmer. Using a chopstick, swirl the water to create a whirlpool, then gently pour the egg into the center of the whirlpool.
- Swirl the water around the egg a few more times to gather the egg white around the yolk, then turn off the heat and cover the saucepan.
- For a very runny yolk, carefully remove the egg with a mesh strainer after 4 minutes and pat on a paper towel to remove excess water. For a slightly firmer yolk, remove after 5 minutes.
- Repeat with remaining eggs. I poach each egg as I plate, but you could poach them in advance – see this article for a how-to.
- Create a pile of rice on one side of a plate.
- Slice a pork chop and lay over the rice.
- Ladle curry sauce onto the plate over the pork chop. I like to leave half of the pork chop curry free for optimal crunchiness.
- Pile a generous handful of green onions over the curry, then crown with a single poached egg.
- Repeat with all your remaining pork chops.