The first time I tried curry soba was many many years ago at a tiny little Japanese eatery called Kura located in Sydney's Chinatown. My favourite was the one served with prawn and vegetable tempura. I would sit at the counter and observe how the kitchen staff took this bowl of soba with dashi stock in it, and scoop some thick Japanese curry over it. That was when I decided to attempt making curry soba using the same method, and this was some time last year (click here for the earlier recipe). Tempura + Curry = Yum!
I saw that my blogger-friend, Nami had recently posted her Curry Udon recipe on her website, Just One Cookbook, and it immediately triggered my cravings for curry soba again. I actually wanted to try it with udon this time, but since I had a packet of soba noodles which I bought quite a while back, I decided to use it up first. The topping for the curry was a toss-up between tempura and katsu, and since chicken katsu was relatively easier to make, I decided on the latter. I used Nami's method of making the curry by mixing the curry roux cubes directly into the dashi stock (instead of making the curry separately from the dashi), since that was way easier!
The steaming hot curry, the noodles and the crispy slices of deep-fried panko-crumbed chicken were absolutely delicious together. I also added some cubed carrots and potatoes (what's a curry without potatoes, right?). This is the first time making chicken katsu (breaded fried chicken fillet) and I was pleasantly surprised at how well the chicken breast fillet turned out. I was afraid it would dry out from the deep-frying, but it was exceptionally good, with the meat so tender, moist and juicy. When preparing the chicken, I divided each piece of fillet in half to get an oblong shape, which I then gently pounded with a meat mallet just to get it to uniform thickness, without flattening it too much. I made extra katsu which I served up as Katsudon for the kids as they don't eat curry. That was really yummy too!
Here is the recipe for Curry Soba with chicken katsu. You can substitute the soba with udon if you prefer, and add other meat or vegetables to the curry instead of serving it with the chicken katsu. Try it with tempura too, which is my favourite combination, but then again, I do LOVE tempura.
Chicken Katsu Curry Soba
Adapted from Just One Cookbook
300g (10oz) chicken breast fillet
Salt and black pepper
1 small egg lightly beaten with 1/2 tbsp water
3-4 tbsp plain flour
3/4 cup panko crumbs
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
Prepare the curry first. Heat up 1 tbsp oil in a medium pot and fry the onions for 1 minute. Then add dashi stock and sake. Bring to a boil. Add potatoes and simmer for 5 minutes. Then add carrots and the curry cubes. Stir to dissolve the cubes and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. When the potatoes and carrots are just cooked, turn off the heat and set aside. You can start preparing the chicken katsu at this point.
Cut the chicken in half on a slight diagonal. Pound lightly with a meat mallet to get an even thickness of about 1/2 inch, but not too thin. Season with salt and pepper. Dust the fillets with flour, then coat with egg followed by panko breadcrumbs and set aside on a plate for 5 minutes. Heat up oil in a wok or pan for deep-frying. Deep fry the chicken on medium-high heat for about 2-3 minutes each side until lightly browned. Drain on absorbent kitchen paper. Slice the katsu into 3/4 inch strips.
In the meantime, cook the soba according to package instructions (I cooked mine for 5 minutes in boiling water until just cooked or al dente, and rinsed it with cold tap water to stop the cooking process).
To serve, place the soba into 2 serving bowls and ladle the curry over each one. Heat up the curry again if necessary. Then place the katsu on top and garnish with scallions. Serve immediately.