My daughters are both avid anime fans. I can’t keep up with all of them, but I did know that one of the girls had squee’d over, and bought, a sticker for her laptop that featured the words ‘Tasty Pork Cutlet Bowl’ and I’d caught the implication that it was a term of endearment. So when they came to me asking if they could make the dish, and blog it, I said of course.
This was a little bit of a challenge because it involved no lead time for me to make a special trip for ingredients I didn’t have on hand. And while I can, and often do, make substitutions on the fly, I’m not super familiar with Japanese cuisine yet, so I was fumbling… and as a result, the first batch of sauce met an unusual fate. I tossed it. I’d used something I’d picked up for Thai cooking, and I should have known when I opened the jar it was going to be bad, but Nuoc mam smells like death and used in moderation it’s tasty stuff… this? Nope nope nope! I tossed the sauce and then I tossed the jar of grayish fermented shrimp something-or-other (other, by the smell) and opened a jar of my familiar shrimp paste to use instead. Which wasn’t dashi, but it was what I had on hand. So!
The end result was delicious. I mean, deep-fried pork cutlets? how can you go wrong? I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a juicier pork chop. The sauce was a bit salty, but mopping it up with the pork and rice muted that to a savory umami and it was a repeatable dish, for something the girls pulled out of a fandom. For any reason, it’s worth doing again!
The girls insisted that this be served with rice, and an egg, which I learned is called katsudon. I also put in some finely shredded Napa cabbage, and sprinkled sliced green onion over it, for a well-rounded meal. The recipe I used was based on this one, and comes from the anime Yuri on Ice. I doubled the amounts for sauce, and made variations to accommodate for ingredients I did not have. I’ve since acquired dashi, so we should make this again soon to try it the ‘right’ way.
1/4 c shrimp paste (should be 1/2 c dashi)
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. mirin (I didn’t have sake)
1/4 c rice wine vinegar
For the tonkatsu, take thick pork chops and make shallow slices on both sides – about halfway through the meat, and you don’t want the cuts to go all the way through. Put about 1 cup of flour in one bowl, one cup of panko in another bowl, and two eggs with about 1 tbsp. milk beaten together in a third bowl. You’ll dip your cutlets into the flour, coating well, then into the egg wash, before pressing into the panko to coat thoroughly.
In a wok with 2-3″ of hot oil (peanut is best for high smoke point, but canola will work) fry your chops for about 3-4 minutes, until the breading is a nice golden brown. To check your oil temp, you can drop a piece of the panko in, when it pops right back up to the surface it’s ready to fry. I put the pork cutlets into a 300 deg F oven on a rack that was placed over a jelly-roll pan to keep warm and make sure they were completely cooked while I was working on the other chops. This recipe made four, and I fried them individually. The oven also kept them crispy.
For the sauce, whisk ingredients together in a skillet and cook at med-high heat until they are thickened.
Slice the cutlets, arrange over rice and cabbage, and drizzle sauce on top, then sliced green onion and nori. I like furikake for this! The kids also like some sesame seeds.
So salty-good. I’m told a shot of the eaten-up empty plate is traditional in anime, to show how well the meal was received!