There’s a satisfaction in making a dish that gets your hands dirty. For these meals, which I can never seem to make without getting every bowl and plate in the house dirty, I find it easiest to start with a clean house. When the kitchen, living room, and dining room are straightened and ready, it feels like cheating to literally beat a meal into submission, sling it through egg and flour and oil, and then serve it with wine and candles.

Tonkatsu, a Japanese dish of thin, breaded, and fried pork loin, is one such dish.

I’ve been making tonkatsu for several years, and I learn something new every time. First, any cut of boneless pork seems to work well, but I generally choose a boneless pork loin. Second, pounding the pork with a meat mallet until it’s quite thin will reap huge rewards in tenderness and taste. Third, using the spiky end of the meat mallet only increases your pounding dividends. Finally, the oil should be quite hot before you fry the tonkatsu, else the tonkatsu will overcook and lose its tenderness.

Tonkatsu is traditionally served with a mustard sauce (a quick Google search of tonkatsu sauce will yield you plenty of combinations to try), but I prefer to use the spicy soy sauce I make for Chinese dumplings. If you’d like to try some spice with your pork, combine equal parts soy sauce and rice wine vinegar (about a quarter cup each) with a dash of sesame oil, half a teaspoon of red chili paste, and one clove of minced garlic in a saucepan. Simmer until hot and fragrant, and serve on the side.

Serves 2
Note: The roasted Japanese sweet potatoes make a lovely accompaniment to this dish, as does roasted broccoli, seasoned with red pepper flakes. a

You will need:
2 boneless pork loins
Salt and pepper
Flour, for dredging
1 egg, beaten
Panko flakes
Vegetable oil, for frying

Heat about 1” vegetable oil in a deep saucepan over medium-high heat. (Cover to make it heat more rapidly.)

Pound both chops with the business end of a meat mallet until they are quite thin. Season both sides with salt and pepper, and dredge with flour. Dip both sides in beaten egg, and coat well with panko flakes.

When oil is hot (the end of a wooden spoon, when dipped in the oil, will bubble immediately), place the panko-crusted pork into the pot. Cook until both sides are golden brown, and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. It is best to do the pork chops one at a time.

Slice each chop into thin trips. Serve over sushi rice and alongside the dipping sauce of your choice.


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