My son's godfather works in Waseda University, Tokyo. On his annual pilgrimage back home to the sunny 🌞 island of Singapore, he bears gifts proudly emblazoned with the university's logo for his godson, from a bottle opener that jingles the Waseda anthem when used (so inappropriate for a then 3-year old boy) to a delicate pair of chopsticks (which I've appropriated as a food prop). Apart from that, the university was never of much significance to me, until today. Through extensive research, okay, 5 mins of mindless Googling, I discovered that my lunch for today, was gasp 👀, created by a Waseda University student in the 1920s!
And that dish is, drum roll 🥁 please, Katsudon, a Japanese rice bowl topped with a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet known as Tonkatsu. ⠀
Now, Katsudon is easy to make but what makes / breaks this dish, is the Tonkatsu. It has to be light, airy, extra-crispy & golden brown. After all, my philosophy is that if I'm going to eat deep-fried food, it better be the best possible to justify the excess calories 😉. ⠀
So, here are my tips to making Tonkatsu:⠀
1. Pound Away: Usually, boneless pork loin / shoulder is used to make Tonkatsu. Pound the meat with the flat side of a knife 6 - 8 times on each side of the pork to flatten the meat to about 1/2 inch thick. Alternatively, you can use pork collar shabu shabu like I do & skip the pounding. Simply layer 3 - 4 slices together to form 1 cutlet! ⠀
2. Flour, Egg, Panko: Breading the cutlets is a 3 step process. 1st, coat the cutlet on both sides with flour & shake off any excess. 2nd, dip the cutlet into lightly beaten eggs. 3rd, lay the cutlet on panko crumbs, gently pressing the panko crumbs onto the cutlet so they stick. Swipe ➡️ to view video. ⠀
3. Don't Overcrowd: Deep fry the cutlets a piece at a time or in batches. Use at most half of the surface area of the oil to cook. ⠀
4. Double Fry: This is my standard practice for deep frying anything. Cook the cutlets till they're almost ready, transfer them out to rest for 3 - 4 mins & then pop them back in to fry again. ⠀
5. Drip Dry: Allow the cutlets to rest on a wire rack without any overlap to drain any excess oil away.