My wife eats sushi. I don’t. Marriages proceed by compromising. Suzi and I do it well. We have a neighborhood Japanese restaurant with a lovely sushi bar and a chef there who greets Suzi with a smile and a list of the night’s specialities.
He nods at me. I nod at him. “Tonkatsu? Again?” he will ask. “Yes,” I reply.
Tonkatsu is breaded pork, deep fried and sliced, the served with a magnificent sauce that is sweet and pungent. This recipe includes Chef Masahuru Morimoto’s plea to make your own sauce and not buy a bottle in the Asian aisle of your supermarket. Morimoto is the famous Iron Chef and I take his word with solemn obligation.
This recipe is from Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking by Morimoto, a brilliant survey of Japanese cooking that will let you enjoy many restaurant favorites right in your own kitchen. The book even has sushi. My wife is thrilled. I’m going to give it yet another try.
Tonkatsu and Tonkatsu Sauce
Yield: serves 4
- Deep fry or candy thermometer
For the cutlets:
- Vegetable oil for deep-frying (about 10 cups)
- Four ¼ -inch-thick pork loin cutlets (about 1 pound total), preferably with fat cap attached
- Kosher salt and ground white pepper
- About1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs
- About 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 3 cups very thinly sliced white cabbage
- Lemon wedges
- Tonkatsu Sauce (recipe follows)
- Shumai Sauce for serving (recipe follows)
Pour about 2 inches of vegetable oil into a medium pot and set it over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 350°F on the deep-fry thermometer.
Use the tip of a sharp knife to score the cutlets, making about a dozen short, shallow cuts all over each side. This keeps the cutlets from curling as they fry. Season both sides lightly with salt and pepper.
Put the panko, flour, and eggs in three separate wide bowls. Working with one cutlet at a time, add it to the flour and turn to coat it, shaking off any excess. Transfer it to the egg and turn to coat, letting any excess egg drip off. Finally, transfer it to the panko, turning to coat well and piling on some of the panko and pressing lightly with your hands. The goal is to get as much panko to adhere as you can. Transfer the breaded cutlet to a plate and repeat with the remaining cutlets. Discard any leftover flour, egg, and panko.
Soak the cabbage in icy water for 10 minutes and drain well.
Just before you fry, stir the oil well. Fry the cutlets two at a time, adjusting the heat if necessary to maintain the oil temperature and turning the pieces over occasionally, until the cutlets are golden brown and crispy, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain and fry the remaining cutlets. Let the cutlets rest for a few minutes, then cut them into %-inch slices and serve with the cabbage, lemon, and sauce for dipping.
Yield: about ¾ cup
- ¼ cup toasted sesame seeds
- ½ cup seeded, cored, finely chopped canned whole tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons molasses (not blackstrap)
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder Vs teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
Put the sesame seeds in a medium pan, set it over medium heat, and toast, stirring and tossing frequently, until they’re a few shades darker, about 3 minutes. Transfer them to a bowl and let them cool.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan, stir, and set over medium heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer, lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the flavors come together, about 10 minutes. Season to taste. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and let it come to room temperature. It keeps in the fridge for up to 1 week.
When you’re ready to serve, pound the seeds to a powder in a mortar or grind them in a spice grinder and serve in a bowl at the table, instructing your guests to mix the paste into the sauce to taste..
Source: Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking by Masahuru Morimoto [Ecco, 2016]