Crispy Chicken Katsu Bowls. A take on the Japanese Chicken Katsu, these bowls are one of my favorite meals to have for lunch right now. It is so hearty & balanced with thinly sliced, crunchy fresh cabbage, sweet & tangy pickles & the crispiest chicken you have ever made. I personally cannot have a bowl recipe without sauce: so there is the traditional tonkatsu sauce & a drizzle of spicy mayo because I love it. It’s easy to make, easy to meal prep and such a fun change up if you are bored of your weeknight chicken dinners.
I LOVE every culture’s version of a chicken cutlet & chicken katsu is one of my favorites. It’s extra extra crispy because we use panko bread crumbs. Traditionally, Japanese katsu dishes are served with thinly sliced cabbage & tonkatsu sauce. I learned this from Nami at Just One Cookbook. While I didn’t look at her recipe, I learned about the thinly sliced cabbage & go to tonkatsu sauce and they were both the most incredible and perfect addition to the bowl. Cabbage is in season right now & adds a really fresh, crunchy bite.
The method for this chicken is what makes it. I am a strong believer in cornstarch when you want crispy chicken. The cornstarch creates a barrier & holds in all the moisture while also protecting the crispness of your breading. When I came across this method, I knew it would be perfect. Instead of a thick buttermilk-y batter like an American fried chicken, in this recipe we make a cornstarch batter. I scrolled by this in a video frying eggplant and could not wait to implement it here. I used a mixture of egg whites, cornstarch and water to create a smooth batter that basically looks like a big bowl of Elmer’s glue. Dunk the chicken in there before coating in the breadcrumbs. Everything coats the chicken so perfectly. No pieces fall off. It makes for the perfect piece of crispy katsu (*and there are air fryer instructions as well*)
The dish can still be made without tonkatsu sauce. Add extra pickles & a splash of rice wine vinegar in the rice for some added acid & balance. But, traditionally tonkatsu sauce is the move and I totally get why. It is a sauce not traditionally made at home (kind of like worchestire), and this classic brand is a really delicious addition. You can always make a quick and easy one at home with ingredients you have on hand (this is a great quick recipe).
If you make this recipe, please let me know in the comments or give it a rating. I LOVE hearing from you. Or you can tag me on Instagram @quartersoulcrisis. I love to see your creations.
Crispy Chicken Katsu Bowls
- large skillet or air fryer
Crispy Chicken Katsu Bowls
- 1 lb chicken thighs boneless, skinless
- kosher salt
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1-2 tbs water
- 1 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- white rice, thin sliced scallions, thinly sliced cabbage, spicy mayo & tonkatsu sauce* for serving
- 3 mini cucumbers sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1-2 carrots sliced 1/8-1/4 inch
- 1 garlic clove sliced in very thin slivers
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/4-1/2 cup avocado oil
- Prep Ingredients & Make Pickles: Make sure ingredients are prepped & veggies are chopped. In a small saucepan, combine water, rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt. Heat over medium-high for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved and there are no granules left. In an airtight jar (like a mason jar), add sliced cucumber, carrots & garlic. Cover with the liquid. Let sit for a few minutes & place right in refrigerator. These pickles need to sit at least 30 minutes & get better each day.
- Coat Crispy Chicken: Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towel & season with salt, garlic & onion powder. Pound chicken thighs thinner and more even. Set aside. In a shallow dish, add the panko bread crumbs. Next, in a small bowl add cornstarch, egg whites, & water. Whisk vigorously until it resembles elmers glue. It should be thin enough that it easily coats the entire piece of chicken once dumped, add 1tsp more water if it is too thick. Dunk 1 piece chicken into the cornstarch mixture & let any excess run off. Place in panko bread crumbs and coat well. Repeat with each piece of chicken until all are breaded.
- Fry Crispy Chicken: In a large cast iron skillet, add about 1/2 cup avocado oil and heat on medium-high heat. Drop a large bread crumb into the oil, if it sizzles as soon as it hits the oil it is ready. Add chicken pieces to oil (you may have to work in 2 batches so do not crowd the pan). Shallow fry 3-5 minutes on each side until gorgeous golden brown. Remove & let drain on double lined paper towels. If oil is getting too hot, remove from heat 1-2 minutes before placing back on. Air Fry Directions: Preheat to 425°. Lightly grease basket with non stick spray. Add chicken pieces (you may have to work in 2 batches) for 10 minutes or until cooked through & crisp.
- Assemble bowls: Make white rice, slice green onion, avocado, thinly sliced cabbage & pickles. Add all to a bowl together. Drizzle with tonkatsu sauce & spicy mayo*. Enjoy.