Saturday, January 04, 2014

Recipe: "Classic Tonkatsu" from from "Japanese Soul Cooking" by Tadashi Ono & Harris Salat
Rating: Great! Quick and easy.
Status: Made several times.

We made tonkatsu using the recipe from "Japanese Soul Cooking" by Tadashi Ono & Harris Salat. We loved it! It was especially easy to make since the Japanese grocery store that I went to (Nijiya Market) sold pork loin specifically cut to the right thickness for tonkatsu (the label says "pork loin (for tonkatsu / cutlet)"), though many meat counters at American supermarkets can cut off filets (no thicker than 3/4 inch, 1/2 inch slices are okay. 1/4 inch slices can be used to make very thin and wide tonkatsu) for you from the large hunks of pork shoulder or pork loin in their display cases. Preferably the filet should feel soft and malleably when you press on it, not dense and difficult to pound. Pieces with lots of fat and marbling work taste best as tonkatsu, since lean pieces become dry. Don't cut off the excess fat, even if it looks like a lot.

The green cabbage should be very thinly sliced (it is a bit too thick in the picture above).

Don't forget the dab of Japanese mustard on the side--dabbing a small bit of mustard on the pork is especially nice.

The recipe is available in the following book except.

Recipe: "Katsudon" from from "Japanese Soul Cooking" by Tadashi Ono & Harris Salat
Rating: Great!
Status: Made once.

If you make extra tonkatsu, then you can make katsudon with the leftovers which is a type of comforting Japanese one-dish meal (a donburi with tonkatsu), with rice, egg, and a sauce made from dashi, soy sauce, mirin, sake, and onion. The recipe, which is also from "Japanese Soul Cooking" by Tadashi Ono & Harris Salat, is available here.

If you refrigerated your leftover tonkatsu, then first warm it up for a few minutes in an un-oiled pan (the fried crust of the tonkatsu should have enough oil in it to keep it from sticking) heated on medium before beginning the recipe.

I used a 10-inch pan instead of the 6-inch pan recommended by the recipe. The larger pan works just fine if you have a very wide bowl to serve it in, though it will make a thinner omelet (and the egg probably won't cover the entire pan).

Instead of garnishing with mitsuba as the recipe recommended, I used some shredded cabbage left over from the previous night's tonkatsu, and also some daikon radish sprouts seasoned with some ponzu sauce. Another possible substitution for the mitsuba that is easier to find in American supermarkets is scallions, though I haven't tried this yet. I also added a dab of Japanese mustard on the side of the bowl.

If you love tonkatsu sauce (e.g. Bulldog brand tonkatsu sauce), then another optional variation is to drizzle a very small amount of the sauce directly over the tonkatsu. Since the tonkatsu sauce tends to overwhelm the other flavors, use only a very small amount of sauce; I prefer the donburi without any tonkatsu sauce so that the donburi sauce is the focus.

Another great way to server tonkatsu is with a Japanese curry. This curry is mild (I used the full amount of S & B brand curry powder and garam masala suggested in the recipe and the spice level was fine for William). The Japanese also like their curry to be slightly sweet and fruity; this curry gets its sweetness from a grated apple. The curry can successfully be made a day ahead.

Recipe: "Retro Curry" from "Japanese Soul Cooking" by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat served with Tonkatsu, white rice, and Japanese mustard.
Rating: Good, but they suggested adding way to much liquid to the curry. I had to remove some of the sauce and boil it down in a separate pot (so that the main ingredients didn't get over cooked) to make it the right thickness. And of course, the curry needs to be salted to taste at the end of cooking (the amount of salt suggested in the recipe is way too low).
Status: Made once.

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