Thursday, September 27, 2007


Breaded fried meat. Every culture has its version. The Italians have parmigiana. The Viennese and Germans have schnitzel. The Polish have kotletschabowy. And the Japanese have tonkatsu, which is my favorite. Somehow panko stays crisper than traditional breadcrumbs and cooks more evenly, giving you that golden brown, crunchy coating that makes breaded cutlets so good!

The key to frying up these babies is to keep the oil at a constant temperature, which means not overcrowding the pan. Fresh oil with a high smoke point is crucial too. When you bread the meat, you want the first layer of flour to be as thin as possible, just enough so that the egg has something to adhere to. After dipping the meat in the panko, let it rest for 5-10 minutes, so that the panko stays on.

Alton Brown says that you should keep one hand "wet" and one hand "dry" to prevent what he calls "club fingers." That piece of advice is good in theory, and it does minimize "clubbing" (and I mean this in a very non-medical way), but I find that clubbing is inevitable. You just need to keep a dish towel or some paper towels nearby.

Anyways, here's my version of tonkatsu.


6 pork cutlets (I use center cut quick-fry porkchops which I pound until they're about 1/4 inch thick)
1 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
2 tsp. salt.
1 tsp. pepper

1. Put flour, egg and panko in three separate wide dishes.
2. Add 1 tsp. of salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper each to the egg and the flour. Mix well.
3. Make sure pork cutlets are dry. Dip cutlets in flour, making sure to shake off excess.
4. Dip in the egg, then into the panko. Press the panko onto the meat, making sure that the meat is well coated.
5. Set aside meat while you heat up your pan.
6. Fry over medium-high heat until golden on both side.
7. Slice into 3/4 inch strips and serve with tonkatsu sauce*.

*There's a brand of tonkatsu sauce that I really like, but you could substitute this home-made version in a pinch. I didn't have tonkatsu sauce tonight, so I made this. The kids couldn't even tell the difference.

For the tonkatsu sauce, mix together:

4 tbsp. tomato ketchup
2 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. kecap manis (or 1 tbsp. soy sauce with 1 tsp. sugar)

In the picture above, you can see garlic kuchay, which we also had, beside the tonkatsu. Always good to have some veggies to lessen the guilt of eating something fried :-)

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