You probably noticed that the blog has been quiet since late December but there’s a good reason for that. We took time off near the end of the year and traveled to the Bay Area to visit family. When we came back, everyone got sick and and is barely getting over our cold. Even though we all felt under the weather, we’ve been cooking as usual and can’t wait to share some of the delicious meals we’ve been making with you.
For our first post of 2016, we’re sharing this delicious tonkotsu dish from our favorite Japanese cookbook, Japanese Soul Cooking. Japanese food was foreign to me for the first twenty years or so of my life. Sushi, what’s what? Ramen, is that cup noodle? And tonkotsu, sounds kinda strange! It wasn’t until I met my husband that I was introduced to Japanese food. He would order tonkotsu whenever we had Japanese food but I usually stuck to ramen or udon. One day, my curiosity got the better of me and I asked him for a bite. A crunchy, crumbly panko coating with a thin layer of tender pork hidden beneath! I haven’t eaten pork this way before. Fried and delicious! Since then I’ve been hooked.
We usually make this dish when we crave for pork and are short on time. In less than an hour, you can whip up a delicious and comforting meal of tonkotsu smothered in miso tonkatsu sauce with a bowl of steaming white rice and a refreshing side of napa cabbage slaw. When we have extra time, we usually make a nice yellow curry to go with the tonkotsu like how some restaurants serve it. The recipe for Japanese curry will be posted at another time. Once you make this tonkatsu at home, you might not want to order it from the restaurant again!
Tonkatsu (recipe adapted from Japanese Soul Cooking)
4-6 fillets of boneless pork loin, about ¾ inch thick (about 1 lb)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup of all purpose flour
¼ cup of cornstarch
1 cup of panko crumbs
vegetable oil for deep-frying
white rice for serving
Miso tonkatsu sauce
2 tbsps sake
2 tbsps mirin
2 tbsps water
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsps Hatcho miso or red miso
1 tbsp ground toasted white sesame
Napa cabbage and carrot slaw
2 cups of napa cabbage, thinly sliced
½ cup of carrot, shredded
1 green onion (scallion), thinly sliced
2 tbsps light soy sauce
1 tbsp white rice vinegar
1 tbsp of honey
1 tbsp of toasted sesame
1. Make the tonkotsu sauce first by adding sake, mirin, water, and sugar to a saucepan and simmer for about 5 minutes. Whisk in the miso until it’s well combined. Remove from heat and whisk in the ground sesame until smooth. Let the sauce cool to room temperature.
2. To make the slaw dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, and honey. Place the cabbage, carrot, and green onion in a bowl and toss with the dressing.
3. For the tonkatsu, lay the pork fillets on a cutting board and pound the meat with a meat mallet to about ½ inch thick.
4. If the sides of the pork has fat, cut ½ inch notches into the white fat of the fillets to prevent them from curling when frying.
5. Season the fillets on both side with salt and pepper then transfer them to a plate.
6. Prepare 4 plates. Whisk together the flour and cornstarch and put the flour mixture in plate 1.
7. Pour the beaten eggs in plate 2.
8. Place the panko crumbs in plate 3.
9. Reserve plate 4 for breaded tonkatsu.
10. Place a cast iron skillet on a burner and fill it with vegetable to a height of at least 1 ½ inches.
11. Attach a deep-fry thermometer to the side of the skillet and wait for the oil to heat to 350 degrees F.
12. While the oil is heating, bread the fillets. First dredge a fillet in flour lightly and shake off any excess.
13. Dip the fillet into the egg, coating both sides.
14. Dredge the fillet in the flour again and shake off any excess flour.
15. Coat the fillet generously in panko on both sides.
16. Repeat with the remaining fillets and place them on plate 4.
17. Carefully slide the breaded tonkatsu into the skillet and cook them for about 3-4 minutes, turning only once during the frying process, until the fillets turn golden brown.
18. Cook the fillets in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan. Make sure that the temperature remains at 350 degrees F. If the oil is too hot, the tonkatsu will burn. If the oil temperature is lowered, the tonkatsu will come out soggy and greasy.
19. When the fillets are golden brown, transfer them to a paper-lined plate to drain.
20. Transfer the fillets to a cutting board and slice them into strips.
21.When ready to serve, divide rice among serving bowls, top with pork, and napa slaw. Drizzle tonkatsu sauce on top and garnish with toasted sesame and green onions.