Greetings folks! Here's a recipe & progress pics for fried Tonkatsu aka fried pork cutlets, Japanese style golden curry and rice.
I swear it was Thursday a few minutes ago! My internet was down for most of the day so now I'm running on Alaska's' time for a midnight-ish Throwback Thursday. I used to live in Alaska so it's okay...
Anyways, I've decided the easiest way to put together this guide was to combine some of my previous photos for an easy step-by-step guide for your viewing pleasure. My curiosity and experimentation started awhile back when a co-worker and I were talking about different cooking/BBQ. He recommended I give this recipe a shot so I decided to test it out a few different times, some of which can be found on Imgur. This one is easy to do and has become one of my "go to" dinners. On the plus side, the curry can be batch cooked and vacuum packed for future easy meals!
Okay, to kick this off you'll need some panko crumbs and a rice of your choosing. The first time I posted this on Imgur someone recommended Koshihikari rice but unfortunately I couldn't find it at our international food store. I decided to try out this Kokuho Rose brand rice. For those of you who haven't tried it, it's a medium grain rice used commonly for sushi. Based on the cooking settings of the rice cooker for white rice, I found it to be slightly sticky, but also very fluffy. It also had a good mouthfeel, flavor, and texture that went well with the curry.
Rice cookers are a Godsend!
I love all different kinds of rice. Basmati, jasmine, wildrice... you name it. The Mrs....not so much. Despite my excellent culinary skills, I have a strange tendency to screw up rice - it's just a fact of life. Embracing this fact, I found that rice cookers take all the guess work out of it, are easy to use, and many come with the capability of timers, steaming vegetables, and all that jazz. This particular unit was on sale at Costco at the time for about 30USD, which isn't bad considering comparable models of the same brand are up to 60USD on Amazon. Since procuring a rice cooker, I've found the Mrs. attitude toward rice has changed slightly in a positive way. She still isn't into rice as much as me but I at least know my meddling isn't a part of it :-)
How can you have any curry if you don't eat your meat?!?
To give this curry some extra flavor and make it a good standalone batch cook meal, I've grilled up some seasoned flank steak over the coals until medium rare. Since the meat is going to be cut up after resting and placed into our sauce, there's no reason to cook it any longer.
Now the Curry
I feel like I'm still perfecting this recipe with the right amount of vegetables and spices before I start experimenting with making my own curry from scratch. In the mean time I'm using golden curry sauce mix which is typically found in international stores, or international food isles in large grocery chains. It comes in a variety of spiciness but I find even the medium is very mild compared to southwest standards, Thai, and Indian curry.
Now back to the food! While my onions, carrots, and celery are sautéeing I'm going to crack open this 3.5 oz. block of the golden curry sauce mix. As much as enjoy making sauce bases from scratch, this is as easy as it gets!
Everything combined and starting to smell good!
Here I've combined my sautéed vegetables, seasoned flank steak, golden curry sauce mix, and 2 1/2 cups or 600 ml of water. Prior to grilling I pre-seasoned the meat with low sodium soy sauce, garlic, pepper, and onion power so additional spices weren't needed.
Once the curry starts breaking down and fully dissolved, place on the pot/mixture on your back burner low simmer and start preheating your oil medium high for frying the cutlets.
Whats in the bag?!
While I have my oil preheating on medium high it’s time to get the pork cutlets started. Here I’ve got all them in a plastic bag and getting ready to smash them out. It more or less to keep them contained. The chops are fairly thin as is, but my goal is to smash them out to approximately ¼ of an inch. This ensures they cook quickly and evenly without over browning the panko crumbs. Note* one thing I have noticed on a few occasions is that different brands of panko crumbs brown quicker than others. I.e. dynasty vs Kikkoman. I’m not sure why that is, but either way the results were still tasty.
Now that I’ve got them all smashed out it's time to dust them in flour. To keep the mess contained I dropped the flour in a bag and gave them a good shake to evenly distribute the flour.
Now comes the semi messy part :-)
In an attempt to keep things as clean as possible in my kitchen/make things easy to clean and dispose of, I’ve placed both beaten eggs and the panko crumbs in separate bags. Once you get a pork chop all dusted up with some flour, dip into the egg mixture, then the panko crumbs. After breading each one, stack them gently on a plate with parchment or wax paper in between them. Pro tip: food safe disposable nitrile gloves are very handy for this step, as the egg/panko breading mixture will build up very quickly on your hands.
All frying up now!
Now it’s time to get these little piggies all fried up! Carefully place the breaded cutlet into the heated oil, taping gently on the top of the patty every so often with your tongs. This ensures that it’s heating from both sides of the cutlet. After the cutlet is golden/golden-dark brown and floats to the top it should be ready to pull. Transfer on a plate with paper towels or a baking sheet with a rack to get rid of excess grease. Safety tip: keep a small container of baking soda and a metal pan large enough to cover the pot nearby in the event of a grease fire.
Allow cutlets to rest and assemble rice & curry half on opposite sides of the plate. Afterwards, slice the cutlet and place on top of both mixtures. For a fancy rice dome, user that fancy rice spoon the rice cooker came with! For those of you who want a full breakdown/ recipe let me know. In the mean time I have the ingredient list here via google docs.
Additional thoughts - The Rejects
Here you can see the difference between a fully cooked and a slightly overcooked cutlet/pork chop. It wasn't as smashed out as the others, so I tired to cook it for longer. Even in this state it was slightly over browned, but still tasty with the curry/rice combo. Everyone likes to take pictures of perfect results - but the reality is no matter what you're going to have some rejects along the way.
In your exploration it's important to not only to accept that this happens, but most importantly why it happens - even to the best of us. Just remember that it's is completely fine! The joy of cooking at it's core is about exploration and experimentation!
Regardless, I hope you all enjoy and thank you for stopping by!