Crumbed goods remind me of my childhood. My grandmother's crumbed lamb cutlets, which if I ate with my peas, meant a covert After Dinner Mint was passed into my sweaty palms for dessert. And my dad's crumbed Aberdeen sausage – eugh, still cannot stand it – but I love the family laughs that come with it, so I hold it dear in a different way. And now in full blown adulthood I have come to love a crumbed 'bit oh somethin' be it a sneaky schnitty, or a katsu on the day after the night before. Here I've updated and tweaked a few classics for when your crumbed craving calls.
Tonkatsu with curry sauce and kohlrabi, kimchi and coriander slaw
I added a touch of katsu curry powder to the panko crumbs to intensify the flavour. Please don't panic if you can't find it – once your pork cutlet is lovingly doused in katsu curry sauce, no one will be concerned with its absence. I have included a recipe for curry sauce but if you are short on time and motivation, those supermarket Japanese curry sauce mixes are (don't judge me) a great backup.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 small bunch of fresh coriander (30g), stems finely chopped (reserve leaves for the slaw, see below)
3 tsp Herbie's katsu curry powder (or 1 tsp each garam masala, medium curry powder and ground turmeric)
2 heaped tbsp plain flour
1 heaped tsp brown sugar
800ml water or coconut milk
Kohlrabi, coriander and kimchi slaw
1 kohlrabi (500g), peeled, trimmed and julienned
1 cup coriander leaves, finely chopped
½ cup kimchi
2 tbsp Kewpie mayonnaise
4 pork cutlets, frenched (300g each)
2 cups panko crumbs
1 tbsp katsu curry powder (optional, I used Herbie's brand)
plain flour for dusting
60ml (¼ cup) rice bran oil
1 tbsp butter
spring onion, finely sliced
For the curry sauce, place a frying pan over medium-low heat with one tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, carrot, coriander stalks and katsu curry powder. Fry for 15 minutes, or until starting to caramelise and soften, stirring often to prevent the veg from catching. Stir in the flour, then the brown sugar. Pour in 800ml of boiling water (or coconut milk for a richer flavour) and leave to reduce to a saucy consistency (about 15 minutes; keep an eye on it). Taste, season and add more sugar if needed. Set aside and keep warm.
For the slaw combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine. Set aside for the flavours to develop while you prepare the pork.
Combine the panko crumbs and curry powder (if using) in a large shallow bowl. Add the eggs to a separate bowl and whisk lightly.
Lightly dust each of the pork cutlets in flour. Coat the chops in the egg mixture then dredge them through the panko crumbs, using your fingers to gently press the crumbs to the cutlet and to ensure they are generously covered. Set aside on a plate until all four cutlets are crumbed.
Heat half the oil in a non-stick frying pan, add two cutlets and half the butter and turn occasionally until golden and just cooked through (eight to 10 minutes). Transfer to an oven tray lined with baking paper and keep warm, then wipe out the pan and repeat with remaining oil, butter and cutlets.
When ready to serve, strain the curry sauce. Add the rice and a generous scoop of the curry sauce to individual serving bowls. Top each with a cutlet and a quarter of the kohlrabi slaw. Sprinkle with a few slices of spring onion and serve.
Middle Eastern chicken kiev. Photo: KatrinaÂ Meynink
Spiced chicken kiev with zaatar crumb, crisp aleppo potato, smoked almond and kale salad
A new take on the good old (why oh why did it fall out of favour?) chicken kiev. With a dash of zaatar and the lemony peppery goodness of aleppo pepper, it's a little lighter and brighter than the original. Add some smoked almond and roast potato salad on the side and this is a winner.
225g butter, room temperature
4 cloves garlic, crushed
⅓ cup flat leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
⅓ cup coriander leaves, finely chopped
⅓ cup chives, finely chopped
finely grated rind and juice of 1½ lemons
3 tsp aleppo pepper
2 tsp cumin
4 large chicken breasts (170-200g each)
flour for dusting
2 large eggs
2 cups breadcrumbs or panko crumbs
2 tbsp zaatar
2 tbsp ricebran oil
Potato, smoked almond and kale salad
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cups new potatoes, quartered
1 cup kale, stems removed, shredded (we used dinosaur kale)
½ cup smoked almonds
2 tbsp quality mayonnaise
1 tsp zaatar, plus extra to serve
1 tsp aleppo pepper, plus extra to serve
Make the flavoured butter by combining the filling ingredients in a bowl. Once fully incorporated turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a log. Place in the fridge until firm enough to slice into rounds.
Preheat oven to 175C.
Place the potatoes and olive oil in a large roasting tray and toss to combine. Roast for 45 minutes or until golden and crisp.
Meanwhile, working with one chicken breast at a time, place the fillet between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound gently with a meat mallet to flatten slightly – you don't need to bash the hell out of it, just gently increase its size by about 30 per cent. Make a small cut in the side of the thickest part of each breast and insert a portion of herb butter into each, approximately one tablespoon per breast.
In separate shallow trays, place the flour and egg. In a third tray combine the breadcrumbs and zaatar. Dip each stuffed chicken breast in flour, then egg, then the spiced crumb, shaking off excess between layers. Press crumbs onto each breast to help them stick. Layer the crumbed chicken between plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Place a frying pan over medium heat. Add the oil, and once shimmering, add the chicken, being careful not to overcrowd the pan (note: you may need more oil if cooking the chicken in batches). Brown on one side, approximately two minutes, then gently flip then place in the oven to cook until the chicken is evenly browned all over and cooked through. This may vary slightly depending on the thickness but test for doneness between the eight to 10 minute mark by piercing the thickest part of the meat with a skewer; when cooked the juices will run clear. Once ready, remove from oven and slice each breast gently on the diagonal to reveal the herbed butter centre.
Remove potatoes from the oven. Add to a large bowl with the kale, almonds, mayonnaise, zaatar and aleppo pepper and stir gently to combine. Spoon the salad onto serving plates and sprinkle over some extra zaatar and aleppo pepper. Top each portion with two kiev halves and serve immediately.
Schnitty meets karaage chicken. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Ginger chicken schnitzel
This is a bit of a schnitty meets karaage (Japanese fried chicken) love affair. Simple but delicious and a great midweek dinner option.
4 organic chicken breasts (about 170g each)
flour for dusting
2 large eggs
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 tbsp ground ginger
¼ cup ricebran oil
1 tbsp pickled ginger per serve
quality thick chilli oil or chilli jam (½ tbsp per serve or to taste)
2 tsp black sesame seeds
2 tsp white sesame seeds
1 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves per serve
micro herbs such as tatsoi or purple shiso (optional)
Gently flatten each chicken breast – you want it to be flat and even, not beaten senseless (aim for 1½-cm thick).
Combine the panko crumbs and ground ginger in a large flat tray. Whisk the eggs in a large shallow bowl. In another bowl, add the flour.
Dip each breast in flour, then egg, then crumbs, shaking off excess between layers. Press crumbs onto breast to help them stick.
Place a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the rice bran oil, and once shimmering, add the chicken, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. If you need to cook the chicken breasts individually, quickly turn your oven to 120C so you can keep the schnitzels warm while you cook the others.
Cook each schnitzel for approximately two to three minutes per side. Watch closely – you may need to turn down the heat to prevent the crumbs from burning. Fry until crisp, golden and cooked through. Repeat with remaining chicken.
Slice chicken into strips and place on serving plates next to steamed rice, picked ginger and chilli oil (if using). Scatter the sesame seeds, coriander and microherbs and serve immediately.
Japanese eggplant noodle bowls. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Shichimi togarashi crumbed eggplant with udon noodles, herbs and coriander mayo
A word to the wise, shichimi togarashi seasoning can vary greatly in heat so taste first and adjust how much you add to the crumb batter and dressing accordingly. It can help to show some restraint in the early stages – you can always add a healthy sprinkle to the finished dish.
juice of 1½ limes
2 large egg yolks
300ml rice bran oil (or other flavourless oil)
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ cup coriander leaves, very finely chopped
Udon noodle salad
1 x 270g packet of udon noodles
⅓ cup rice vinegar
⅓ cup soy sauce
⅓ cup maple syrup
1 tbsp yuzu juice (optional; substitute lemon juice if unavailable)
½ tbsp shichimi togarashi (or to taste)
1 eggplant (about 500g) cut into 1.5cm cubes
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp shichimi togarashi
60ml (¼ cup) rice bran oil
½ avocado per serve
micro coriander and micro purple shiso (optional)
coriander leaves, roughly chopped
extra shichimi togarashi or chilli flakes
furikake seasoning (optional)
5g dried seaweed, finely sliced
Make the mayonnaise by whisking the lime juice, egg yolks and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the oil, a few drops at a time, until mayonnaise is thick – this can take up to eight minutes. Stir through the crushed garlic and finely chopped coriander, season to taste then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. (This makes more than you need but leftovers will keep in the fridge for a week.)
Cook the udon noodles in a large saucepan of boiling water for four minutes (or according to packet instructions). Drain and immediately refresh under cold water. Make the dressing by mixing the rice vinegar, soy sauce, maple syrup, yuzu (if using) and shichimi togarashi in a bowl. Add the noodles and toss to combine. Let the noodles sit in the dressing while you prepare the eggplant.
Whisk the eggs in a large shallow bowl. In another bowl, mix the panko crumbs and shichimi togarashi. Add the eggplant chunks to the egg mixture, a few at a time, tossing to coat, before rolling in the crumb mixture. Lay the cubes on a flat tray while you coat the remaining pieces.
Add the ricebran oil to a frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil's surface is shimmering, add the eggplant, a few pieces at a time, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry, turning frequently with tongs, until the eggplant gives a little when pressed and the outside crumb coating is golden brown (about one to two minutes). Remove and place on paper towel while you cook the remaining eggplant.
To serve, transfer the udon noodles into bowls, shaking off some of the dressing. Top each with an avocado half and some eggplant cubes. Drizzle over a little of the coriander mayo and scatter with herbs, the extra shichimi togarashi or chilli, furikake, if using, and the finely sliced seaweed sheets.