Pushing the Boundaries of Torikatsu!

By Brandon Muhawi
Writer for Pro Home Cooks

Hey everyone! My name is Brandon Muhawi and I’m a new writer and recipe developer for Pro Home Cooks. While I’m not a professionally trained chef, I grew up in a diverse family that has always been involved with the culinary industry. My family comes from all over the world – from Vietnam to Palestine to Italy – and I’ve been very fortunate to experience home cooking from a wide array of cultures. As I’ve gotten older and had the chance to experience my own journey in the kitchen, I’ve come to love it as a creative outlet. I love to push the boundaries between food cultures in search of new flavors and techniques. This recipe is a sort of product of that experimentation using a dish that was one of my go-to orders as a child.

Sesame Kimchi Torikatsu + Kimchi Macaroni Salad

Before my juvenile tastebuds learned to appreciate the joys of sushi, chicken katsu was what I was anticipating at every Japanese restaurant. After all, what more could a kid ask for but intensely crispy bites of breaded chicken, fluffy white rice, and an almost-too-savory sticky brown sauce to dunk everything in. Chicken katsu (チキンカツ) is a dish that originates from Japan but has become common within Korean and Hawai’ian cuisines. The breaded chicken cutlets are a staple of neighborhood and chain Hawai’ian restaurants, often served on combo plates alongside barbecued meats and the ubiquitous macaroni salad. While the simplicity of a traditional chicken katsu is what allows it to share the stage so beautifully with those slices of grilled short rib, elevating the flavors of the dish forces it into the spotlight.

This recipe takes inspiration from flavors and techniques of the various cultures that have adopted katsu as a lunchtime favorite. While the spicy and fermented flavors of kimchi and gochujang might make the dish a little less friendly to a child’s palate, these additions are actually quite subtle. Usually, chicken katsu is carried by the sauce in terms of flavor complexity. The goal here was to pack some flavors into the chicken itself using the liquid from some kimchi. The katsu sings with its umami-filled marinade and the luxury of shiny sesame seeds studding the crust, and the katsu sauce is now a complement rather than a necessity. The macaroni salad in a Hawai’ian barbecue combo plate is exactly what you want next to some crispy chicken or charred meat: super soft, creamy, and slightly sweet. However, mac salad is often somewhat bland. There’s no reason it can’t continue to hit all the right notes whilst being delicious on its own. The addition of tuna is a common practice for many recipes, in an effort to add some heft and substance. Kimchi is used again here, as a quick way to add a ton of fermented, savory flavors and a spicy kick. The spam croutons are there for some textural contrast, but are so crunchy, salty, and delicious that you’ll want to make them to top all kinds of dishes. Put this macaroni salad next to your katsu and the result is a sophisticated and savory combination that will still bring forth the nostalgia of eating breaded chicken and macaroni salad from a styrofoam box.

By Brandon Muhawi
Brandon loves to play around with bridging the gap between food cultures, using the elements of the foods he loves most to create something new. You can find some of those creations here.
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    Test first comments!!