"I Can't Believe It's Fried Pig!"
Tonkatsu (豚カツ) is Japanese for "pig cutlet".
Battered and deep-fried, it's about as far from sashimi as you can
get on the spectrum of Japanese food, but damn is it good!
Those of you who have learned to equate pork with stringy
pork chops are in for a surprise.
Tonkatsu is extremely popular in Japan, right up there with
Japanese curry rice, and you can even buy the two
combined as katsu karee.
The best way to eat good tonkatsu is to go to a specialty restaurant
like the legendary Tonki in Meguro, Tokyo. Like tempura and
sushi, there's an art to cooking it well, and even in Japan
greasy and gristly tonkatsu is all too common. But here's a basic
recipe for 4 if you want to give it a shot:
- Slash the fat rimming one side of the cutlet lightly to prevent
meat from curling up. Sprinkle both sides with salt (lightly!) and
pepper. Coat pork with flour (again, lightly).
- Beat egg and add 1 tsp of water. Dip each cutlet in the mixture
and then coat with breadcrumbs.
- Heat oil to 180°C. Deep fry pork until golden brown on
both sides (5-7 minutes), turning once or twice.
Slice lengthwise into finger-width slices for easy chopsticking.
Obligatory accompaniments are lots of thinly shredded cabbage,
a bowl of rice, hot mustard, maybe a wedge of lemon and
definitely some tonkatsu sauce. You can buy commercial
tonkatsu sauce at any Japanese grocery, or manufacture your own
by mixing 6 parts ketchup with one part Worcestershire sauce.
Most barbecue sauces will substitute in a pinch.
Alternatively, you could add a few more calories by turning your simple tonkatsu into katsudon.