Last night was an "Asian theme" for dinner at Table of Grace to celebrate the Chinese new year. I took over a chicken curry and tonkatsu (more on that in a bit). I figured "Asian-themed" is a pretty broad description, so taking both Indian and Japanese food should work. And it did - both seemed to go over well enough.
I love tonkatsu, which is basically the Japanese version of breaded pork cutlets. It's "down home cookin'" at its finest, no matter whether "down home" is Tarkio or Tokyo. As a starting point I used the recipe from Everyday Harumi, a great cookbook by Harumi Kurihara that Les gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago. I then made a few changes (of course).
- 12 thinly sliced boneless pork loin chops (about ¼" to ½" thick)
- ½ cup flour
- Garlic powder
- 5 eggs
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- "Panko" breadcrumbs (about one tall can)
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Shredded Napa cabbage (optional)
- Tonkatsu sauce
Note: This requires you to deep fry the meat. If you don't have a deep fryer (we don't), an inch or so of vegetable oil in a deep skillet will work just fine. That's what I used, heating the oil thoroughly before cooking the meat. I set the burner to "8" out of "10" on my electric range.
Mix flour, salt, pepper and garlic in shallow bowl. Snip small cuts every 2" or so around the circumference of each chop to keep them from curling when they cook. Dredge each chop in the flour mixture and let sit on wax paper for 15 to 30 minutes, then dredge again. Lightly beat eggs and soy sauce together in shallow bowl. Put panko crumbs in shallow bowl. Heat oil until hot (a few breadcrumbs should bubble almost immediately when dropped in).
Dip a floured chop into the egg wash on both sides then into the breadcrumbs on both sides, then place into the hot oil. The oil should cover the chop and immediately start sizzling. Do the same with two more chops. Cook each chop until golden brown (about five minutes - this time may shorten as the oil continues to heat). There is no need to turn the chops. When a chop is done lift it out with a metal spatula and put on a plate covered with paper towels to drain. As you remove each chop cover another with egg and crumbs and put it in the pan in its place, never cooking more than three at a time (to keep the oil hot - if you have a deep fryer you may be able to fry more chops at once).
It is traditional to serve with shredded raw Napa cabbage, although I skipped that. Serve with rice or noodles and with some tonkatsu sauce for dipping (Chinese mustard, wasabi or Sriracha are also good).
Serves 6+. We had multiple requests for seconds, so 12 chops for six people left about three for leftovers. Everybody liked it (which is saying a lot).