Something happened when I grew up – I stopped nuking chicken nuggets. Not being a fan of crunchy foods, I wouldn’t pop them in the oven and get that nice crispy edge. I put them on a plate, whacked the microwave on and zapped them until they were nice and soggy. YUM!
I didn’t stop nuking them because I realised it was a disgusting way to eat a nugget – moreso because there is some sort of natural progression from childhood to adulthood where these little bites of (not) crunchy heaven are no longer considered a staple in your diet.
When we went to Japan though, we realised that nuggets were back on the menu. Katsudon is a big one (fried pork on rice with curry sauce) that is served everywhere – you’ll notice it on Japanese menus here too. It looks yummy, it smells yummy, it tastes yummy – surely it’s bad for you! Yep – deep fried. Never going to happen.
Luckily for me, Nami at Just One Cookbook (you may recall Nami was the creator of my 2013 recipe of the year – Slow Cooked Pork Belly) has been at it again and has come up with the perfect solution. Baked crunchy chicken. It is absolutely delicious and I was lucky enough to not only get to eat it, but to have it made for me. I simply left the window open on my laptop and when I came home, that good looking hairy man that seems to hang about my apartment like a bad smell had conjured it into life.
Thank you to Nami, my hubby and Japan for making my belly sing. (Recipe is below but click here for the original blog).
Japanese Baked Crunchy Chicken
- 1 cup panko*
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 lb. (454 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast, rinsed and pat dry**
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- 1 Tbsp. water
- Tonkatsu sauce***
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400F (200C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine the panko and oil in a frying pan and toast over medium heat until golden brown. Transfer panko into a shallow dish and allow to cool.
- Butterfly and cut the chicken breast in half. Pound the chicken to equal thickness if necessary. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the chicken.
- In a shallow dish, add flour and in another shallow dish, whisk together the egg and water.
- Dredge each chicken piece in the flour to coat completely, pat off the excess flour. Then dip into the egg mixture and finally coat with the toasted panko. Press on the panko flakes to make sure they adhere to the chicken.
- Place the chicken pieces on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake until the chicken is no longer pink inside, about 25-30 minutes. Serve with tonkatsu sauce.
* Panko is a Japanese crumb which is lighter, larger and I think crunchier than a bread crumb. I would recommend making the effort to find some. Definitely available in Asian grocers – maybe in your grocery store.
** We used chicken thigh and it was really juicy and tender.
*** Tonkatsu sauce is a basic Japanese condiment – somewhat like BBQ, I’d say with a kick of seafood – it doesn’t sound good but it is! It can be found in asian grocers and possibly even the Japanese section of the Asian aisle at Woolworths. The dish is yummy with-out it but it is amazing with it. You could definitely substitute with something in your pantry or simply make one from scratch by whisking together the following:
- 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (Usutah So-su)
- 1 Tbsp. Ketchap
- 1/2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
- 1 1/8 tsp. sugar