In the past, kushikatsu was typically made with tummy-filling ingredients such as meat, onions, and potatoes. Now, you can find a mind-boggling array of ingredients used to make this deep-fried goodness. Pork, beef, chicken, octopus, fish, lotus root, gingko nuts, mushrooms, quail eggs, fruits and even mochi — no matter what’s inside, they are all lip-smackingly good.
Kushikatsu goes beset with raw cabbage and cold Japanese beer. (Photo from: Hideyuki KAMON via Flickr)
Authentic kushikatsu eateries serve the skewers with raw crunchy cabbage on the side, accompanied by a dipping sauce that tastes a little like Worcestershire sauce. The secret success of this dish lies in the sauce. Savoury and tangy, this watery sauce elevates the flavours of the fried skewers. In between the deep-fried rhapsody, take a bite of the cabbage for a hint of fresh sweetness (it helps to aid digestion too)!
Before you tuck into the skewers, the golden rule here is “No Double-Dipping Into The Sauce”. Yes, everyone shares a tub of that delightful sauce so it is common sense that you do not want it to be contaminated with saliva. It is highly frowned upon in Japan to flout this dipping rule so do keep this in mind if it’s your first time eating at a kushikatsu restaurant.
If you are one of those who love to soak your food in sauce, don’t worry. Do as the locals do and use slices of the cabbage to scoop more sauce out to drizzle onto your food.
However, this unique Japanese food culture of eating Kushikatsu is sadly facing some obstacles now. With fear over the spread of the novel coronavirus, restaurants have removed the signature silver tub of dipping sauce and replaced it with an individual small bottle of sauce for every diner instead.
As we wait for dining restrictions to ease up, here is another tip on how to enjoy kushikatsu. Order just a few skewers at a time, so that they are always hot and crispy. Ordering a huge amount at once is tempting because everything looks so good, but that will leave them turning slightly soggy. To complete the kushikatsu experience, wash it down with some cold, thirst-quenching Japanese beer. Yums… this is pure bliss!