The cacophony of another holiday season is just around the corner. What better time to have a few hot, nutritious meal ideas on hand to assemble, quickly and easily, in the midst of everything else going on.
A favourite of mine is a modern twist on Japanese Katsu bowls. This recipe is made with fresh ingredients and provides infinite variety for individual tastes. (So much better than the ‘bricks’ of starchy instant noodles, with their little packet of mysterious salty flavourings, found in grocery stores!)
Katsu was traditionally made from beef. It was a western influence that introduced pork and deep frying into the mix. Since then, the dish has gone on to evolve into many different variations that include chicken, fish and vegetables.
The beauty of this dish is its simplicity. While connoisseurs will voice that there are many subtleties, nuances and age-old traditions that go into traditional rice dishes, fundamentally it’s the assembly of a few basic ingredients combined that make it such a fantastic meal. Rice, rich broth, protein, veggies and miso or chili sauce for a kick—and there you have it!
Cooked rice is used as the base; but in this case, I have used rice noodles on top as a garnish. Broth can be homemade or a good quality prepared one, jazzed up with a bouillon cube. Protein options are infinite and ideal for those holiday leftovers or those few frozen shrimp lurking in the back of the freezer.
Any vegetables are fair game. Cook harder ones in broth ahead of time or leave them raw for a crunchy texture. Leafy greens are ideal for colour and those crucial anti-oxidants. As long as your rice or noodles are cooked and your broth is piping hot, any added embellishments will create a bowl of satisfying deliciousness.
Go ahead and experiment. Have fun with its assembly. The whole team here at Camosun Culinary Arts strives to instill this sense of adventure into our young cooks, too: food is fun, food is part of our culture, and food is life. Happy cooking! Happy Holidays to all!
Find all of Steven’s contact info on the Camosun Culinary Arts portal listing page here on GoWestShore.
Char Sui Pork
Yield: 10-12 portions
1 kg 2 lbs Pork leg or shoulder roast, de-boned
(Substitutes: chicken, beef, shrimp)
125 ml 1/2 cup Soy sauce
125 ml 1/2 cup White sugar
75 ml 5 tbsp Hoisin
60 ml 1/4 cup Sherry
2 ml 1/2 tsp Chinese Five Spices
7 cloves Garlic, minced
30 ml 2 tbsp Ginger, minced
8 ml 2 tsp Toasted sesame oil
Drop Red food colouring
(or substitute with fermented tofu)
Reserved marinade plus:
60 ml 1/4 cup Brown sugar
40 ml 3 tbsp Ketchup
- Separate roast into 3 or 4 natural muscle segments (as uniform as possible) by cutting through the white connective tissue and fat between each muscle.
- Cover with marinade and marinate for to 4-6 hours minimum, turning occasionally.
- Remove pork from marinade & roast at 170°C/325°F for 45 minutes. Reserve marinade for glaze.
- Bring reserved marinade to a boil. Cook until reduced by 1/3. Stir in brown sugar & ketchup. Boil for a few minutes. Brush onto pork during roasting.
- Brush pork with reduced glaze at least twice.
Julienne and blanch your favourite vegetables with any of the following suggestions in simmering chicken broth for 30 seconds. Then, place them on tray in a thin layer to cool. Add vegetables such as baby bok choy, carrots, snow peas, sui choy, savoy cabbage. Chinese mushrooms are optional. See recipe above.
Assembling Your Katsu Bowls
- Cook rice noodles in boiling salted water until just tender, drain and cool under cold running water, drain and toss in 5ml /1 tsp. sesame oil or vegetable oil.
- Place 250ml/1 cup of hot broth in a warm bowl, add sliced pork (or chicken, beef, shrimp, tofu, etc.), mushrooms and blanched vegetable, top with cooked noodles & garnish.
Rick Chicken Broth
(Or vegetable broth)
454 g 1 lb Ground chicken thigh (use chopped veggies for vegetable broth)
15 ml 1 tbsp Sesame oil
1 Medium nion, chopped
6 cloves Garlic, chopped
2 cm 1 inch Fresh ginger, peeled, sliced into coins and smashed
2 L 8 cups Chicken or vegetable broth
45 ml 3 tbsp Soy sauce
15 ml 1 tbsp Dry sherry
To taste Brown suger
- Heat oil in a large pot over high heat. Add onion, garlic and ginger. Cook for 2 minutes until softened.
- Add chicken. Stir until all chicken has turned white.
- Pour in broth, bring to simmer. Cook for 40 minutes.
- Pour the broth through a fine-mesh strainer.
- Season with soy sauce, sherry, brown sugar and *mushroom liquid (*optional, see recipe below).
100 g 4 oz Dry shiitake mushrooms
- Simmer in 2 L/4 cups of water for 10 minutes.
- Turn off heat and soak for 20 minutes. (Keep mushrooms submerged with a plate).
- Remove mushrooms and save liquid for broth.
- Remove stems and slice caps thinly. Toss with soy sauce and sesame oil.