Campsite Cooking: Katsu Curry
Guyrope Gourmet Josh Sutton visits a campsite close to home… and creates a dish with its roots in Japan.
Living at the foot of the Yorkshire Dales means I’m spoilt for choice when it comes to campsites near home. Mason’s up at Appletreewick is the go-to place for the summer birthday camp, Catgill campsite at Bolton Abbey is pretty laid back and has a lovely family feel to it, but the closest by far is the wonderfully positioned Clarion Lodge Campsite, perched on the end of Otley Chevin.
The name Chevin comes from the old Celtic language and means ‘ridge of high land’. As you’d expect, being perched on the Chevin, Clarion Lodge gives you wide and far-reaching views over lower Wharfedale.
Chevin Lodge Campsite has a history reaching back to the early part of the 20th century. The socialist Clarion Clubs emerged out of the Clarion Cycling Club, which was set up in Birmingham in 1894. Clarion campsites, of which there are very few left, were established by working class men and women looking to escape the smog of the industrial city centres and enjoy the fresh air of the surrounding countryside. It was the efforts of these people, along with those that took part in the “mass trespass” over Kinder Scout in the Peak District in 1932, that eventually resulted in the opening-up of the countryside for the public to enjoy today.
I didn’t enquire about any socialist credentials, but site owner Joanne was very sociable and made us feel most welcome as we set up on site. I was delighted to see a couple of historica photos of the old Clarion clubhouse and the campsite in the washing-up area and Joanne filled me in on the history of the site.
It turns out that the exact location where I’d pitched the tent was the site of the old Clarion Club’s tennis court. No wonder the pitch was so flat. Jo and her husband Mark bought the site back in 2010 and spent a year or so converting the old clubhouse, which was a bunk barn, into their home on the site.
Clarion Lodge is open all year round, and if you don’t fancy pitching a tent in the dead of winter you could always book one of their three Wigwams to stay in.
As I was pitched on an old tennis court, I thought I better get some practice in with my service – dinner service that is. I’m sticking with the old vegetarian menu for this little campsite treat and opted to use Quorn pieces instead of the traditional fried chicken, which is normally associated with a katsu curry.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a chicken fillet coated in Panko breadcrumbs and fried until it's crispy. In fact that’s easy to do if you don’t fancy the vegetarian option. Just take a couple of fillets (chicken breast works best for this particular curry), coat with a beaten egg then dip in a plate of panko breadcrumbs to cover the whole fillet and then shallow fry on both sides in sunflower oil until golden.
The Quorn pieces do save time, as they only need warming through rather than cooking separately. Having said that you could just as easily substitute with some ready-cooked chicken breast. Either way, make sure you cook the rice first. It’ll keep warm with the lid on the pan until you’re ready to serve the curry.
Vegetarian Katsu Curry
For The Rice
8 oz basmati rice
A pinch of salt
6 whole black peppercorns
16 oz water
How to cook it
Place all ingredients in a saucepan place on a lid and bring to boil. As soon as the rice reaches boiling point, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and simmer very gently until the water is absorbed (about 10 mins). Stir through with a fork to make sure no rice sticks to the bottom of the pan. Replace the lid and let stand while you cook the curry.
For The Curry
A glug of olive oil
A piece of fresh ginger as big as your thumb
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp mild curry powder
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp light soy sauce
500ml vegetable stock
350g Quorn pieces
Fresh chopped coriander (optional)
How to cook it
Heat the oil in a pan, then peel and grate the onion and the ginger and add to the hot oil. If you don’t have a grater just chop them as finely as possible. Fry for a minute or two, then stir in the flour and curry powder using a wooden spoon. Fry for just a minute, then add the honey and the soy sauce. Pour in the stock and stir through and bring up to a simmer. As the curry sauce starts to thicken, add in the Quorn pieces to warm through. Serve on to a bed of plain rice and garnish with chopped coriander.