This chicken katsu udon soup recipe is based on a soup I used to get at a local restaurant. It pairs extra crispy chicken katsu with plump udon and a light broth for a pure comfort meal.
I’m not going to lie to you; making this dish is an ordeal. If you can coerce someone to help you in exchange for an extra tasty dinner, that’s your best bet. Otherwise, buckle up and prepare to have a lot of dishes to do afterward. The good news? The final product is so worth the effort (and the mess!).
How to make the chicken katsu recipe:
While I love all the components of this dish, let’s be real. The star of the show is the crispy, crunchy, salty chicken on top.
What is chicken katsu? Katsu–derived from the shortened word katsuretsu–means cutlet. It’s a thin cutlet of chicken or pork dredged, coated in panko, and fried until crispy. It is most commonly served with a sauce called tonkatsu sauce which is a lightly sweet and deeply savory brown sauce.
In this recipe, I riff off a soup I used to get at a restaurant that omitted the tonkatsu sauce for serving. Because of that, I choose to omit the sauce here. If you love the sauce, feel free to grab a jar or make your own!
For my version of chicken katsu, you need just a few ingredients, including:
- Thinly sliced chicken: Pound chicken breasts thin with a mallet or buy thinly-sliced chicken cutlets. I prefer to buy the thinly-sliced cutlets, so I don’t fuss with a mallet.
- Dredging ingredients: You need flour with shichimi togarashi and white pepper, beaten eggs, and panko.
- Oil: Because you need so much oil, I opt for cheap vegetable oil, but you can use canola or even avocado oil.
This follows the basic process for dredging and deep-frying any type of protein. Dip the chicken into the flour, then into the egg, then into the panko. Use your fingers to really press the panko into the chicken. Once everything is breaded, chuck it into a pot of hot oil and cook until golden brown all over. The frying process takes 3–4 minutes per side but will depend on the thickness of your chicken.
What about the udon soup?
You want to start the udon before you make the chicken. The broth is super simple; you just need:
- Veggies and aromatics: Onion, mushrooms, ginger, garlic, scallions, and broccoli. You can add what you like, though. Try it with sugar snap peas, corn, bell peppers, bok choy, or carrots. Any crispy green vegetable (like bok choy, sugar snap peas, etc.) should be added at the end so it doesn’t overcook.
- Broth: The broth is just water, dashi granules, light soy sauce, mirin, and sesame oil.
- Garnish: I slice scallion greens on a steep bias and toss with sesame oil and sesame seeds for a pretty garnish.
- Noodles: I use fresh or frozen udon, but dry udon works just fine too! You can also use ramen or soba if you have that on hand.
I recommend boiling the noodles and starting the broth before dredging the chicken. You can rinse them and divide them between bowls. The broth can simmer as you cook the chicken. You’ll ladle the hot broth on top right before serving, so don’t fret if they get cold while you’re preparing everything else!
Right before serving, stir the broccoli into the broth to cook it up quickly, and then you’re ready to eat!
Chicken Katsu Udon Soup Recipe
- Large pot
- Medium pot
- Large pot
- 4 scallions, white and light green parts kept separate
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 cups water
- 2 teaspoons dashi granules
- ¼ cup light soy sauce, more to taste
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
- 16 ounces frozen or dry udon
- 10 ounces broccoli florets
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
Prepare the scallions:
- Mince the white parts of the scallions and set them aside. Thinly slice the green parts on a steep bias and transfer them to a small bowl. Set aside.
Prepare the broth:
- Heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and mushrooms and cook for 6–8 minutes. Season lightly with salt.
- Add the ginger, garlic, and minced white parts of the scallions. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
- Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add the dashi granules, soy sauce, mirin, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Simmer as you prepare the chicken and noodles.
Cook the noodles:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the udon and cook according to package instructions. Drain and rinse. Divide the noodles between bowls.
Dredge the chicken:
- Heat 1½ inches of oil in a medium-sized pot until it reaches 350ºF. Test the oil temperature with an instant-read thermometer. Adjust the heat as needed between medium-low and medium-high to keep a consistent temperature for frying.
- Prepare your dredging station by setting out three large shallow bowls. Add the flour, white pepper, and shichimi togarashi to the first bowl. Use 1 teaspoon shichimi togarashi for a subtle heat or 2 teaspoons for spicier undertones in the breading.
- Crack the eggs into the second bowl and whisk with a fork until well beaten.
- In the third bowl, add the panko and a pinch of salt.
- Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper.
- Dip one piece of chicken into the flour until fully coated. Shake off the excess and then dip it into the beaten eggs. Ensure the chicken is completely coated with eggs. Allow any excess to drip off and then dip into the panko. Use your fingers to press the panko into each piece of chicken evenly. Transfer to a wire rack and continue on until all the chicken is breaded.
- Fry the chicken in batches for 3–4 minutes per side or until the chicken registers 165ºF. Transfer to a wire rack to allow the excess oil to drip off, and continue until the chicken is fried.
- Note: As you add chicken to the oil, it can bring the temperature of the oil down. Continue to check the temperature of the oil and adjust the heat periodically to keep it around 350ºF.
Finish the udon:
- Turn the heat on the broth to medium-high. Once it bubbles, add the broccoli florets, cook until bright green and tender-crisp, and immediately turn off the heat. Taste and season the broth.
- Prepare the garnish:
- Right before serving, drizzle the reserved scallion greens with the remaining 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and the sesame seeds. Toss to coat.
- Thinly slice the chicken cross-wise. Ladle the hot broth over the noodles and place a sliced chicken breast on top of each bowl. Add a spoonful of the scallion green garnish to each bowl, and enjoy!