What’s one of the most loved Japanese dishes? Chicken katsu curry is definitively one of the top picks if you ask me! You can’t go wrong with a piece of crispy panko fried chicken, ladled with rich sumptuous Japanese curry sauce, and served with a hearty portion of rice. It’s easily my favourite lunch pick, and so it’s no surprise that this air fryer chicken katsu curry recipe is one I enjoy making often at home!
With a little help from the air fryer and Japanese curry blocks, making chicken katsu curry at home couldn’t get any easier. You can achieve that crispy and succulent chicken at home effortlessly with just a few air fryer tips and simply pair it with curry & rice.
What is Japanese Curry?
Japanese curries are naturally sweeter and milder in flavour compared to the likes of Indian curries and come in a thick gravy-like texture. The dish was invented when curry powder was introduced by the British (who was colonising India then) during Japan’s Meiji period. Over time, the Japanese have tweaked the recipe to adjust to their own taste, resulting in this sweet and thick style of curry today.
Nowadays, you can find pre-made curry sauce pouches or cubes at Japanese supermarkets. Simply add in some vegetables and you can whip up a Japanese curry in no time. One popular way of serving Japanese curries is in the form of a katsu curry which is what I’m making in this article.
What is a Katsu?
Katsu means Japanese panko fried meat cutlets. It typically involves either pork, chicken, or beef, and sometimes you may find vegetarian options of tofu or sweet potato cutlets. The key ingredient here is panko. Panko differs from typical breadcrumbs in terms of texture and how it’s made. The coarser nature of panko breadcrumbs is what gives katsu that irresistible crispiness and crunch. It is made from a particular type of crustless white bread and is known to be lighter and relatively healthier. This recipe shows you how to make air fryer chicken katsu, which saves you all the hassle and fuss of deep-frying without compromising that signature crispiness.
How to make Air Fryer Chicken Katsu Curry
- Boneless Chicken Thigh Fillets (or chicken breast) – see recipe notes below on chicken thigh vs chicken breast
- Panko Breadcrumbs – a must and key ingredient for achieving that ridiculous crunch on the katsu (mentioned above)
- Flour, Egg – to gel the panko to the chicken
- Salt, Black Pepper – to season
- Chilli Powder/Togarashi – optional
- Onion, Carrote, Potatoes – the vegetables
- Instant Japanese Curry – in the form of blocks
- Chicken Broth – from bouillon cubes. To give it a little flavour boost.
- Rice – to serve. Ideally Japanese rice.
- Chicken breast vs chicken thigh – I would highly recommend you to use chicken thigh as it’s so much more succulent and tastier. Essentially, there is more fat in chicken thighs, which offers more moisture to keep the chicken juicy. Chicken thigh is dark meat compared to the white meat of chicken breast, therefore the thighs carry a lot more flavour.
- Instant Japanese Curry – as briefly mentioned above, ready-made Japanese curries are readily available in the form of either blocks or pouches at Japanese supermarkets. Typical brands include S&B Golden Curry, House Foods Java Curry, etc. They come in different heat levels so pick whichever suit your taste best! Although we find even the ‘hot’ ones aren’t actually hot. That’s why we needed (and recommend) extra chilli powder/togarashi to spice it up a bit more!
- Chilli Powder/Togarashi – Togarashi is a type of Japanese chilli pepper powder that’s typically made up of seven spices. It’s a super common seasoning/garnish for Japanese dishes to add a little tingle to the palate. They can be commonly found at Japanese or general Asian supermarkets. Regular chilli powder makes a good alternative and works well in this recipe.
- Panko coating – as already mentioned earlier, panko is key to making katsu. In order to help get the panko breadcrumbs gelled to the chicken, you will need both flour and egg. The chicken should already be seasoned but I like to add a touch of salt and pepper (and maybe togarashi) in the panko coating for extra flavour! You can find panko breadcrumbs at Japanese/Asian supermarkets.
Air Fryer Tips & Notes
- You do need a bit of oil for air frying. Not only does the oil help to crisp up the chicken but it also helps to achieve that luscious golden colour and prevents it from getting burnt. I mean, you don’t want a pale-looking piece of katsu on your plate, do you? I always brush oil over both the air fryer basket and chicken.
- Preheat the air fryer before cooking. This helps to ensure the chicken katsu comes out crispy and prevent chances of it to turn out soggy. It only takes a few minutes to preheat and makes a difference.
- Do not overcrowd the air fryer. This is to ensure that the chicken can be cooked evenly. Air fryer works by circulating hot air around the food. If you overcrowd the basket, it would hinder the air flow and result in unevenly cooked food. Cook in batches if needed.
- Flip the chicken halfway through. It helps the air fryer chicken to crisp up on all sides. Furthering the first point above, I like to brush another layer of oil on the other side of the chicken after flipping it.
- Chicken times may slighty differ from air fryer to air fryer, as well as depending on the size and thickness of your chicken.
Easy Air Fryer Chicken Katsu Curry Recipe
- 1 Air Fryer
- 2 Boneless Chicken Thigh Fillets
- 1-2 Eggs beaten
- ½ cup Plain Flour
- 1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
- 1½ tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- Togarashi/Chilli Powder optional
- Vegetable Oil for brushing
- Japanese Rice (cooked) to serve
For the Japanese Curry
- 1-2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 1 medium Onion
- 150 g Carrots
- 200 g Potatoes cubed
- 3 blocks Japanese Curry Blocks
- 500 ml Water
- ¼ cup Chicken Broth
- Preheat the air fryer to 180°C.
- Season chicken thigh fillets with salt and black pepper.2 Boneless Chicken Thigh Fillets, 1½ tsp Salt, 1 tsp Black Pepper
- Place flour, beaten eggs, and panko in separate shallow bowls. Mix in a pinch of salt and pepper (and togarashi/chilli powder if using) into the panko.1-2 Eggs, ½ cup Plain Flour, 1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs, Togarashi/Chilli Powder
- Coat chicken with flour, then drench it into the beaten egg, and lastly, coat it with panko.
- Brush oil over the air fryer basket. Place the breaded chicken into the basket and brush the chicken with oil. Do not overcrowd the air fryer and cook in batches if needed. Air fry for 7 minutes.Vegetable Oil
- Flip the chicken and brush with more oil if needed. Cook for another 6 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and golden & crispy.
Making the Japanese Curry
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook onions for about 3-5 minutes until softened.1-2 tbsp Vegetable Oil, 1 medium Onion
- Add in the carrots and potatoes. Season with salt, pepper, and chilli powder (if using). Saute for another 5 minutes.150 g Carrots, 200 g Potatoes
- Stir in chicken broth, curry blocks and water. Keep stirring until the curry blocks are dissolved and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the curry sauce has thickened.3 blocks Japanese Curry Blocks, ¼ cup Chicken Broth, 500 ml Water
- Ladle the curry sauce over cooked rice and top with chicken katsu. Serve immediately.Japanese Rice (cooked)
- Panko breadcrumbs are key to making chicken katsu. It is the reason for the extra crunch & crispiness and also for the light & non-greasy taste.
- Brushing oil over both the air fryer basket and chicken help to crisp up the chicken and achieve that luscious golden colour for the chicken katsu.
- Preheating the air fryer helps to ensure the chicken katsu comes out crispy and prevent chances of it turning out soggy. It only takes a few minutes to preheat and makes a difference.
- Do not overcrowd the air fryer. This is to ensure that the chicken can be cooked evenly. The air fryer works by circulating hot air around the food. If you overcrowd the basket, it would hinder the airflow and result in unevenly cooked food. Cook in batches if needed.
- Cooking times may differ from air fryer to air fryer, as well as depending on the size and thickness of the chicken.
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