New twist to old tonkatsu (pork cutlet)
I’m still in awfully sad mode from watching too much CNN news about earthquake in Japan. It seems like each passing day, things get worse. When I eat, I can’t help but feel guilty. When I’m comfortable in my cozy house, my thoughts are over shadowed by images that I just saw - people wet and cold with hopeless stare or voiceless cry.
Is it human nature? Or just me? When you feel helpless or stressed, you crave for something familiar or some food that puts you in a good mood? I will go for something sweet when I feel down. Other comfort food is something fried. With cooked rice of course.
This is my favorite method to cook cutlet ever since I saw it on a Japanese TV show a few years ago. I don’t recall the name of the restaurant that developed the recipe but the store got quite popular. Cheese in the middle is also good instead of plum and shiso leaves. Pork itself has a bland taste but the plum‘s salty flavor gives it the right kick and fragrant shiso leaves makes it perfect. If you like cilantro (I don’t), you can substitute it for the shiso leaves.
- Thin shabu shabu pork - 8-10 slice per cutlet, I used just one package for 4 cutlets.
- Pickled salted plums - 1 for each cutlet, I used honey pickled plum (はちみつ梅*）take the seed out and chop to make paste but it doesn’t have to be smooth.
- Shiso leaves - two leaves for each cutlet
- 2 eggs - scramble in a shallow bowl
- Panko - 1 cup or more in a shallow bowl
- Oil for frying
- Salt and pepper
- Heat about 2 inches of oil in a skillet over medium heat (340F).
- On the kitchen counter, spread plastic wrap and dust with a small amount of flour.
- Lay the first layer of thin pork and keep laying one on top of another for 4 or 5 layers. Make sure fat side alternate one side to another.
- Spread plum paste on the layered pork.
- Put two shiso leaves on top of plum paste.
- Add another 4 or 5 layers of thin pork, pinch the edges all around for a good seal.
- Salt and pepper - I prefer white pepper.
- Coat the pork cutlet with flour and dust off excess.
- Dip in the egg then coat with panko. Press panko into the pork so that it will stick better.
- Deep fry at medium heat until golden brown and crispy.
- Put fried cutlets on a plate with 2 sheet of paper towel on to remove some of the excess oil.
*It does not have to be honey pickled plum but regular pickled plum may get salty. Choose ones that are large and soft so it is easy to make paste.
Even though it seems hopeless, I saw footage of a man rescued from rubble 96 hours after it happened. I also saw a group of children laughing and playing at one of shelters. It gives me sense of relief that people are resilient and they can be strong, if they choose to do so.
Coincidently, katsu (the Japanese word for cutlet) sounds the same as another word katsu ( which means to win or victory). I hope for them the best. I pray that they can overcome.