Japanese pork cutlet

Japanese pork cutlet

Tonkatsu

By
From
JapanEasy
Serves
2-4
Photographer
Laura Edwards

Most of the recipes in this book are quite traditional, but I couldn’t resist doing something a little different for this one.

Tonkatsu is essentially Japan’s take on schnitzel – a breaded and fried pork cutlet. Most tonkatsu, and indeed most schnitzel, is tasty, but rarely as amazing as deep-fried pork really ought to be. I reckon this is because most tonkatsu use a very thin piece of pork, which dries out before the breadcrumbs develop a really rich colour and flavour. So when I was developing a tonkatsu dish for the restaurant, it occurred to me that conventional wisdom had it wrong on this one: the pork should be thick, not thin and, even better, it should be cooked on the bone. The thick cut keeps the pork juicy as the outside browns and crisps, while the bone contributes flavour and additional moisture.

The most difficult part is resisting the urge to eat this every day

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
2 big, thick pork chops, bone in and rind removed
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
plain flour, for dredging
2 eggs, beaten with a splash of water or milk
150-200g panko breadcrumbs
oil, for deep-frying
1/2 hispi (pointed) cabbage, very finely shredded
1/2 lemon, (optional)
150ml Tonkatsu sauce

Method

  1. Season the pork chops liberally with salt and pepper; ideally you should do this about an hour ahead of cooking, so the seasoning can penetrate the pork. But no worries if not. Dredge the chops in flour, then soak them in the beaten egg, then coat them in panko.
  2. Pour enough oil into a large, deep pan (the widest you have) to come no more than halfway up the sides. If your pan is not wide enough to fit both chops, you may have to fry them in batches. Heat to 160ºC and gently lower the chops into the oil. It will take at least 10 minutes for them to cook through – keep an eye on them and turn them once during cooking. The best way to check if they are done is to use a meat thermometer – I prefer these well done, so an internal temperature of 60ºC at the thickest point is good for me. But some people like their pork a little more pink, so go for 57–58ºC, or for VERY well done, aim for 65ºC. If you don’t have a thermometer, you’re going to have to do some exploratory surgery. Find the bone, and cut alongside it to check (but bear in mind the meat nearest the bone will still be pinkish even when it’s well done). If the meat’s not cooked through but the breadcrumbs are getting too dark, place the chops on a wire rack in an oven set to 180ºC for another 10 minutes or so. If the breadcrumbs are still light in colour, just put the chops back in the oil for a few minutes.
  3. Drain the chops on a wire rack or kitchen paper and rest them for at least 5 minutes before carving. Cut along the bone with a thin knife, then slice across the meat into thin, chopstick-friendly pieces. Garnish with plenty of sea salt and serve with shredded cabbage, lemon, if you like, and tonkatsu sauce on the side. Also, these are brilliant with a fried egg on top!
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