Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pork Tonkatsu Katsudon

I lived in Japan with my family for 6 years when I was younger. I helped my mom cook, but didn't pay enough attention to learn anything. Fortunately, by the time I got old enough to start paying attention, she had developed a collection of recipes for me to steal. This is one of my all-time favorites and one of my top comfort food dishes.
Pork Tonkatsu all by itself is the basic breaded and fried pork. It becomes Katsudon when you add the fish broth- based sauce, egg and some other good bits and put it all in a rice bowl. Yum.

Pork Tonkatsu Katsudon

Boneless pork- pounded thin (about 1/4- 1/2 inch)
1-2 eggs, scrambled for breading plus 1-2 eggs/person for the katsudon
Panko bread crumbs (important- all breadcrumbs are not created equal...)
Oil for frying
Either 1+ cups dashi soup stock or 3 tbsp dashi powder (see pic below) + 1 c water. I prefer the hon-dashi powder, it's easier to make as you go along and you can control the strength of the flavor.

5 tbsp soy sauce (I use low-sodium)
2 tbsp mirin (this is a type of seasoned rice wine, not to be confused with rice wine vinegar...)

1 tbsp sugar
1 onion, sliced thinly
A couple of handfuls of frozen green peas
Cooked Rice- I prefer the sticky rice, such as Calrose, for this dish.

For the pork:
Set up a standard breading station and dip each piece in egg and then coat in panko. I usually season both the eggs and panko with S&P or whatever seasonings you might like to get the most flavor out of the meat. 
Heat the oil and fry the pork until golden brown. I am lucky to have a FryDaddy deep fryer, I fry the pork at 375 F, usually about 3-4 minutes per batch.

Something about this crispy pork screams out to be stolen and eaten during prep. I would make sure you have a few extra chunks if there are going to be any wandering hands/mouths in the kitchen. Or if you are hungry while you are cooking....

While the pork is cooking, mix the dashi (and water if using powder), soy sauce, mirin, and sugar in a bowl and whisk until incorporated. It will have a pretty strong fishy odor, which can be a little scary, but once you taste it, you will know it's all ok. Some people like this sauce to be stronger in flavor, some less so. If you are in the latter group, just add a little more water until you are happy with the sauce. You may want to make a small serving using the sauce as-is first so you can see how everything tastes when it's all put together, then adjust for the next batch based on your personal tastes.

Once the pork is all cooked, slice it into strips and place strips into an omelet-sized frying pan. For this recipe, I prefer using a non-stick pan and I give it a quick shot of PAM just to be safe...

Scramble 1 egg per serving and pour directly on top of the pork. Scatter a handful of sliced onions over the mixture, add a ladle full of sauce, and toss a small handful of frozen peas over the top

Cover the pan and cook over medium heat until the egg is fluffy and cooked through. Spoon cooked rice into a bowl and slide the katsudon on top. Serve warm, top with chopped green onions if desired. 

A lot of this recipe is based on personal taste. Feel free to play around with ratios- sauce, egg, onions, etc. I prefer mine with about 1 1/2 eggs and a lot of sauce... You can also add other veggies, such as thinly sliced carrots or squash. The pork pounding/frying can take some time, but once that is done, this is a pretty quick dish to prepare and totally worth  the time.

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