Kushikatsu Sauce. Breadcrumbs aren’t enough
So you have your Kamakura beer. You have your Kamakura beer bread crumbs and batter. You fried up your daikon, lotus root, and various meats. But it just isn’t enough. The great love to kushikatsu is in the kushikatsu sauce. Kushikatsu and its sauce is are two things you could definitely ship.
The basis of most kushikatsu sauces is the tonkatsu (豚カツ) sauce. Tonkatsu sauce is the basis for most of your favorite Japanese street foods. Okonomiyaki and takoyaki are the biggest culprits of using tonkatsu sauce. Typical savory and salty in flavor, tonkatsu is a mix of ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and the sauce of soy. Tonkatsu sauce is so popular in Japan that it is simply referred to as sauce. Many street vendors will sell cheese tokoyaki or kimchi takoyaki, but if you are looking for that original version, looks for the name sauce takoyaki (ソースたこ焼き). If the whole nation’s goto sauce when the word sauce is uttered, then know that this is great sauce.
However, although the basis of tonkatsu sauce is mainly Worcestershire sauce, for kushikatsu, you can typically see variants in ingredients. Temari, white wine, rice wine, vinegar, miso all options for your kushikatsu sauce. I attempted to try various kushikatsu sauces while in Japan, but the ones that stood out the most came from and addition to wines. This adds a fermenty aroma and sweetness and really goes with the salty savoriness of the Worcestershire sauce. And it changes the viscosity of the sauce to very gloppy to light but still thick. It allows for one to cover the entire surface area of your fried batter fast and efficiently.
Original and a Toasty Variant
So if wine was the one thing that stood out in the best kushikatsu sauces, a beer alternative would be a sour or farmhouse ale right? Probably, but I wanted to use a Japan beer and finding canned or bottled sours in Japan didn’t work out. However, I did have a can of Tokyo Black. Yo-Ho brewing company beers are relatively common. I see them in bottle shops and the local Japanese stores in Seattle, LA, and Orange County. I could’ve tried this beer without ever going to Japan. But I chose to spend luggage space on this beer to ship back. Why? Because one can of these beers in the states average around $6 and that hurts my soul. However, it is modestly priced in Japan.
Porter and Wine
I was nervous about using a porter for this recipe. It just didn’t seem like the sweetness would be there. But lets no fool oneself. The sweetness of this beer is created from the wort. When making beer and boiling the grains, you create a sugar water known as wort. You then take yeast and add it to your wort to eat and poop out CO2 and alcohol. I don’t plan on boiling out the alcohol so this will have some sweetness. But what will be an addition to this since the beer is a porter is coffee and chocolate notes. Specifically, the best part of those two flavor notes, the roasted bean aroma and flavors. You can taste that fire from the roasted bean and it is quite prevalent in flavor. My hope was to get these toasty flavor notes into the kushikatsu sauce. I made this along with white wine (although in retrospect, I’m thinking the sauces I tried in Japan might have used a rice wine of the sorts) to see the difference in flavors.
The hypothesis was correct, albeit now with hops. The flavor indeed did come out to be a roasty toasty version of the familiar kushikatsu sauce… with slight hops… Hops aside, this sauce did indeed have enough sweetness, and how couldn’t it with ketchup. I would recommend using a ketchup that uses grain sugar and not high-fructose corn syrup as to not influence the flavor. Also health. When compared to the white wine counterpart, I must say, I was nearly spot on in flavor to the Japan counterparts. I must say that I did enjoy this white wine version too much as it carried nostalgia in its pockets. But we aren’t here for the original counterpart. The Tokyo Black porter provided a unique experience. You get toasted flavors with typical kushikatsu sweetness.
The Taste of Nostalgia
Now that both our sauce and our breadcrumbs are complete we can finally put it together and enjoy both of these nostalgic dishes. I don’t know about you, but I am ready to go back to Japan. In Japan, it is very taboo to dip your kushikatsu more than once in the sauce. I am not following that rule here.
- Mix the ketchup, mustard, garlic powder, black pepper and 3 tablespoons of the Worcestershire sauce with a hand whisk. This is the base tonkatsu sauce. You could stop right here. You could also replace the first five ingredients with a bottle of okonomiyaki sauce to sauce time.
- Mix your tonkatsu sauce with the Tokyo Black porter, the extra Worcestershire sauce, and the water with the same whisk. Dip it into your fried kushikatsu.