katsu salad
Have you ever gone to a Japanese restaurant and ordered chicken katsu?  It usually comes with a small salad topped with a sweet, creamy dressing.  What I’ve done here, you see, is put the chicken directly on the salad, and then taken some liberties with the ingredients.  The end result is a sophisticated main-course salad suitable for a fork or chopsticks.

Makes: 2 people get up and gyoza
Total kitchen time: 45 minutes

Shopping list:

  • 1-2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1 1/3 cups green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 1/3 cups red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup muscat grapes, halved (These are very sweet grapes.  If you can’t find muscat, use the next sweetest grape you can find)
  • 1 Asian pear, peeled and cut into sticks
  • 2 tbsp. slivered almonds
  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F and set the top rack in the bottom third of the oven.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, if you’ve got some available.  This won’t make the food taste better, but it will make cleanup that much sweeter.
  2. Place the chicken breasts between two large layers of plastic wrap.  Using a mallet or the bottom of a heavy skillet, pound the breasts out flat.  Salt and pepper the chicken breasts generously on both sides.
  3. Beat the egg in a small bowl.  Then, lightly coat each chicken breast with the beaten egg, again on both sides.  Sprinkle the panko flakes over the breasts – you guessed it – on both sides.  Arrange the breasts on your parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving lots of room in between.
  4. Bake the chicken breasts at 400°F for 25 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the breast reads 165°F.  Transfer to a cutting board and slice into 1/2″ pieces.
  5. Meanwhile, toss the remaining ingredients together in a large bowl.  When the chicken is ready, plate the salad first, then top with the chicken.  Finally, drizzle over a generous amount of the honey-ginger dressing (recipe follows).

Honey-ginger dressing:

  • 4 tbsp. real mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp. peanut oil (or sesame oil)
  • 2 tbsp. mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 1 tbsp. blue agave nectar (substitute with honey)
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 2 drops red chili oil
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small food processor, or whisk by hand if the power is out at your house.  Check the taste and adjust with salt and agave nectar as needed.  The final dressing should be sweet but mild.

Wow, I feel healthier already.  A salad with baked chicken breasts?  This could totally have been a 90’s fad diet, combining the allure of Japanese health-cuisine with the American penchant for crispy chicken.  Next time your belt doesn’t fit, or your cell phone won’t play back HD video, try out this recipe.

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