Kare Pan are a very popular Japanese savoury donut. These are filled with a rich, luscious vegetable or meat curry and dipped in panko breadcrumbs and deep fried so that they have an earth shattering crunch. These are a very special treat that actually freeze and reheat very well so you are never far from a delicious lunch! This is a pushy recipe Dear Reader!
Kare pan (kare means curry and pan means bread in Japanese) can be slightly tricky to make but they're so delicious that they're worth making! To me, kare pan is best when there's a lot of filling encased in just a thin layer of bread. That is actually very easy to achieve and I'll share my favourite tips for making foolproof kare pan!
Tips for Making Perfect Kare Pan:
1 - Make the curry filling ahead of time as it will be much easier to handle. Please use a Japanese curry roux mix like S&B as this contains flour to thicken the curry and once chilled it becomes more cohesive and scoopable which makes it easier to shape the kare pan. I usually make the curry 1-2 nights ahead of time. The curry and dough recipe below makes enough for 8 kare pan.
2 - You can use your favourite curry filling whether it be vegetable, chicken or beef. I love beef mince kare pan - my favourite bought ones are at Azuki Bakery in Newtown and they use beef mince in their kare pan.
3- The donut dough is ready when you poke it with a finger and the depression stays.
4 - Once the circles of dough are rolled out, roll out the edges thinner and create a 1cm/0.39inch border. Make sure to never get any curry on this border because it is almost impossible to seal it properly then. Sealing kare pan well is important to prevent the curry in the donut messing up the oil and please make sure to also check that the seals are closed just before frying.
Baking kare pan-less golden but still tasty
5 - If for some reason you can't seal one or two properly you can bake your kare pan in the oven. Place the kare pan on a baking tray, spray with oil spray and bake them at 190C/374F for 20 minutes turning over halfway and spraying the other half with oil spray.
6 - Panko breadcrumbs are super crunchy toasted breadcrumbs that will give your kare pan a beautiful crunch. Do not use regular breadcrumbs as you won't get the real kare pan result.
7 - My favourite tip is to not do a long second rise. I like my kare pan with lots of filling and just a small amount of bread on the outside. If you don't let the bread rise for a second time once it is rolled up and filled you will get the most perfect curry to bread ratio where the bread is thin with lots of filling!
8 - Important frying tip for kare pan: sometimes kare pan will resist being turned over when you want to fry it on the second side which is a pain because you don't want to stand there holding the donut down when frying. To make sure that the kare pan flips properly, fry the donut in the hot oil for 5 seconds and then immediately turn over to fry the other side. This is a common trick so that the donuts fry evenly on both sides (otherwise the donut will want to stay upright on one side only when frying).
9 - Like most donuts these are best eaten while they're still warm. Otherwise you can place them in a container and freeze them. When you are nearly ready to eat them thaw them in the fridge for 24 hours and reheat them in the oven at 180C/350 for 10 minutes where they will crunch up nicely!
I stashed a box of these kare pan in the freezer to take along to our upcoming holiday to the Central Coast. Even Mr NQN who doesn't like deep fried food loved them because of the curry to bread ratio. Mr NQN and I are such different people and with our different personalities, we each have our own field of expertise. His is about computers and IT and mine is about food. I know very little about IT and he food so it somehow works.
We were very excited for our holiday and the chance to relax. Because the plague was everywhere we decided to forego eating out and instead brought a lot of food with us to eat. We had a big Esky to take with us and enough food for most of the days. "Can you go buy a bag of ice half an hour before we leave?" I asked Mr NQN.
"We don't need ice! Just use a couple of ice block thingys," he said.
The thin bread with plenty of filling seen once cut
"There's only one problem with that, I don't have any ice blocks already freezing in there and we are leaving in an hour," I said to him. He kept protesting that the Esky was enough to keep all of the meat and seafood cold and quite honestly my mind was blown that he was even arguing with me about it. I even roped Monica into it as she is a chef and used to transporting food to events.
Laughing she suggested, "Maybe put your food in the Esky with ice and leave his out and see who gets food poisoning?". We had one takeaway container full of Teddy's food in the freezer and he suggested that we use that as our ice block for our enormous 55 Litre esky which was laughable and just plain weird.
"Why can't you just trust me on this? This is my area of expertise!" I said exasperatedly. He finally relented after confessing that his reluctance to buy the ice had something to do with not wanting to go to the petrol station and see people - he's not great at expressing himself and his needs and he finally bought the ice. It was the perfect amount for our esky and it kept everything perfectly chilled. And nobody got food poisoning on their holiday...
So tell me Dear Reader, what is your area of expertise? Have you ever eaten or cooked kare pan? Do you like savoury donuts?
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 40 minutes plus 1 hour resting time
Cooking time: 40 minutes (recipe is best started one day ahead)
For Beef Curry Filling
- 1 onion, peeled and finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely diced
- 250g/8.8ozs. beef mince
- 1 apple, grated
- 43g/1.5ozs curry roux (half a 92g/3oz packet of curry roux)
- 1 1/4 cup beef stock
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
For the bread:
- 1 1/4 cup/200g/7ozs plain all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon caster or superfine sugar
- 1/2 cup/125ml/4flozs. lukewarm milk or water
- 1 teaspoon instant dried yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons oil
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup/60g/2ozs. panko breadcrumbs
- 1 litre oil for deep frying (not olive oil)
Step 1 - First make the curry as it is best made the day ahead so that the sauce sets. Heat oil in a frypan and add the onion and saute for a few minutes until softened. Add garlic and sauté for a minute. Then add beef mince, grated apple, stock and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Knock down to a simmer with the lid on for 15 minutes until meat is cooked through.
Step 2 - Add the curry roux to the liquid and sauté for 5 minutes or until thickened. Season with salt and pepper if needed and cool and then place in an airtight container in the fridge.
Step 3 -Make the dough. Whisk the flour, sugar, milk or water and yeast together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Then mix with the oil until you get a shaggy mixture. Knead with a dough hook for 10 minutes or until elastic. Scrape out of the bowl and shape into a ball without any cracks. Oil the same bowl and place the ball inside it and cover and allow to rise until double the size. I put it in another larger bowl with hot water and then replaced the water with hot water 2-3 times.
Making the outer edge thinner
Step 4 - Punch down the dough and knead in the salt. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. I weigh the total and divide it by 8. Roll into balls and rest for 5 minutes. Then roll out into a large circle around 11-12cms/4.3-4.7inches in diameter. If the dough contracts let it rest for 5 minutes for the gluten to relax. Thin out the edges creating a 1cm thinner border around the circle. Place a small scoop of filling inside the dough and pinch sealed-you can shape them into balls or with pointy ends. The important thing is to make sure that the seams are tight and that no curry leaks out.
Rolling the dough against the counter top to seal the seams
Shaping them with pointy ends
Step 5 - Start preheating oil up to 160C/320F. Place the panko breadcrumbs in a shallow dish with sides. Brush the beaten egg over the donuts and roll in the breadcrumbs and return to the tray and repeat with all of the donuts. Do not do a long second rise.
Step 6 - Fry two of these at a time. Important: place the donut into the hot oil and wait for 5 seconds and then immediately turn it over and fry on each side for 2 minutes. Place on paper towels and allow to drain. Serve hot or warm.