What is katsu? It is a term used to describe an array of dishes that consists of fried meat, chicken, seafood or vegetables that are dredged in flour, dipped in egg, coated with panko and fried until golden and crisp. Tonkatsu — deep fried breaded pork cutlet — is the most well known outside Japan.
What is piccata? It is an Italian dish of floured and fried chicken, veal or fish served with a sauce made with butter, lemon juice, capers and, occasionally, wine and garlic.
So, yes, this is a fusion dish. We even used local ingredients to make the dish even more adaptable. Lemons aren’t native to Southeast Asia but calamansi is. So is kaffir lime. We used calamansi juice for the sauce then the salmon katsu piccata was served with kaffir lime slices on the side. Those who wanted a more tangy dish only had to squeeze the lime slices directly over the fish. Now, a few illustrations to help you better visualize how this dish was cooked.
We had two rather oversized salmon fillets that were rubbed generously with salt and pepper. Flour, beaten egg and panko went into separate shallow bowls. Each fillet was dredged in flour, the excess shaken off, dipped in egg then coated with panko.
Olive oil and butter, in equal amounts, were heated in a frying pan. The breaded salmon fillets went into the pan where they were fried on both sides until lightly browned and crisp.
The salmon fillets were scooped out and set aside. Into the remaining olive oil and butter, rice wine and calamansi juice were stirred in before slices of garlic and capers were added. The traditional procedure for Italian piccata is to add the capers (and garlic, if using) into the oil first. But because we used garlic which burns fast, we modified the order in which the ingredients for the sauce went into the pan.
The sauce was allowed to simmer to reduce a bit, more butter was added then the salmon katsu were laid in the sauce. The pan was tilted a bit to allow the sauce to gather on the low end. The sauce was spooned over the fish repeatedly until the surface was glistening.
We had the salmon katsu piccata with rice. This is Asia and we’re rice eaters. And because we harvested mung bean sprouts again, there was stir fried bean sprouts, green beans and bell pepper to go with the fish. Lovely dinner it was. So filling too.
Salmon katsu piccata
- 600 grams salmon fillets
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 egg beaten
- 6 tablespoons panko
- 6 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup olive oil - not extra virgin
- 2 tablespoons calamansi juice
- ¼ cup rice wine - mirin was used here
- 4 cloves garlic - peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons capers - drained
- Press the salmon fillets between stacks of paper towels to remove excess moisture.
- Dredge each fillet in flour and shake off the excess.
- Dip the floured fish in egg making sure every inch of the surface is moistened.
- Toss the fish in panko and press the crumbs lightly into the fish flesh to make the crumbs stick better.
- Heat the olive oil and four tablespoons of butter in a frying pan.
- Fry the breaded salmon fillets, flipping them over for even cooking, until a crisp golden crust has formed.
- Set the salmon aside.
- With the heat on LOW, add the rice wine and calamansi juice to the remaining olive oil and butter in the pan.
- Stir in the garlic and capers.
- Simmer the sauce for a minute or two to reduce a little.
- Taste, add salt if needed, and stir in the remaining two tablespoons of butter.
- Carefully slide in the salmon katsu.
- Tilt the pan a bit to make the sauce collect on the lower end.
- Use a spoon to bathe the salmon katsu over and over with the sauce.
- Carefully scoop out the fish and transfer to a shallow serving bowl. Pour the sauce over the fillets. Alternatively, arrange a fillet on top of rice, drizzle in some sauce and serve.