Saturday, March 31, 2012

Pork Tonkatsu with Vegetable Tempura

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
This was a favorite lunch meal when I was still in college hanging out in the mall when I had a free afternoon to kill. I usually get this meal from the Japanese fast food joint, Tokyo, Tokyo! It was cheap, delicious and the serving portions were huge. Thus, it was then a no-brainer when I had to come up with a Japanese meal for a guest who was not too fond of raw fish on a sushi night. Looking at the history of this dish, it was surprising to learn that the dish was actually brought in by the Portuguese and have been adapted by the Japanese making it their own. Reading on the procedure, I'm surprised to learn that I have actually been making tonkatsu way long before I knew I was making tonkatsu. I thought there was a special method to making it extra crunchy on the outside and super moist in the inside. Well, there isn't. 

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
The other issue is that this dish is usually served with vegetable tempura. Now, I'm not balking on making tempura since I've made it before and it is not really that hard to make. The problem is, I have to make the batter without any eggs. That right there is the challenge. I found this recipe that uses flour, corn starch and soda water and while it created a thin batter that coated the vegetables, it barely held on to the vegetables that by the time you fried them, it just fell apart. It is the reason why I waited another week before posting this dish since I had to remake it again. That wait was indeed the right move as my tempura this time came out as it should be.

A few things to remember:  

1. Tempura do not really hold their crispiness for that long so it is best 
    eaten right away. 

2. The tempura batter has to be prepared at the last minute. This will 
    ensure that the gluten is not activated creating a crispy instead of a 
    doughy texture.

3. The seasoning is minimal since the idea is to dunk the tempura or the 
    tonkatsu into a dipping sauce. 

Pork Tonkatsu:

1-2 lbs lean pork
salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup flour
1 large egg, beaten with 2 tbsp cold water
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup oil for frying

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan at medium high heat. Brush the pork with the 
    olive oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper. 

2. Arrange the flour, egg wash, and Panko bread crumbs in three deep 
    dishes. Dredge the pork pieces in the flour and dust off the excess flour. 
    Dip into the egg wash and dredge one more time in the bread crumbs. 

3. Fry the breaded pork until golden brown. Drain on a rack lined with paper 
    towels. Keep warm. 

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Vegetable Tempura:
1 cup flour
2 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp salt
1 cup water
Vegetables of choice 
  (zucchini, yellow 
  squash, sweet yam, 
  mushrooms, broccoli, 
1/2 cup oil for frying 

1. Heat oil until it 
    registers 340-350°
    in a frying pan. Peel 
    the sweet yams if using and slice into thin rounds. No need to peel the rest
    of the vegetables listed. 

2. Combine the flour, corn starch, and salt. When ready to fry, add the water
    and stir just until mixed. The mixture will be thick. 

3. Dip the vegetables and ensure that both sides are coated thinly. Fry until 
    the vegetable and coating are crispy. Drain on a wire rack lined with paper
    towels.  Keep warm.

Tempura Dip:
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Tamari soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp rice vinegar

To make the dip, combine the ingredients and mix well. 

To serve the tonkatsu with the tempura, arrange a cup of steamed sushi rice in the center of a large plate. Garnish with slices of green onions and a sprinkling of toasted and black sesame seeds. 

Slice the pork into thin slices and arrange alongside the rice. Arrange the vegetable tempura next to the tonkatsu. Serve with the dipping sauce. 

To keep both the tonkatsu and the tempura crispy while frying, keep them warm in a preheated oven at 200°F until ready to serve. They are both best served as soon as possible.  

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