While tonkatsu is on the menu at many Japanese restaurants, those not familiar with Japanese cuisine may not know what it is. Tonkatsu (or tonkatzu) is a pork fillet or loin that has been cooked and then breaded. It is usually served with cabbage and miso soup.
While many Asian restaurant menus contain a spin on this dish, the most popular recreation is at a restaurant in Ginza, Japan: Barneys New York, run by the Nagai family and headed by Etsuo Nagai. His recipe has come down to the very minute as he has perfected it through the years. Made to order, there are quite a few meats to choose from. From the tenderloin (hire) to the premium meats he offers, there is no shortage of variety.
Instead of using ready-made store bought bread crumbs, Nagai makes his own. Though laborious, he says it absorbs less oil and creates a better blend with the meat. The cabbage served with it is often organic and grated much finer than for a normal use. A thin layer of red cabbage and carrots, grated, goes on top for an extra pop of color.
This tonkatsu can be replicated at home. While many don’t have the money to get premium meats like Nagai, 1/2 inch thick cuts of pork tenderloin, turkey, or fillet can be used, as stated in the recipe from the Food Network.
Once the meat has had the fat slashed (which keeps meat from curling when fried), it is pounded to flatten to half its original thickness. Salt and pepper are added to both sides.
Flour is then used to coat the meat. The floured, salt and peppered meat is then dipped into eggs and breadcrumbs and coated on both sides. One or two cuts go into a hot skillet with about 1/2 inch of oil. They deep fry until golden-brown (about five to seven minutes). Drain on paper towels and cut into pieces that can be eaten by the bite with chopsticks.
Another suggestion of FantAsia Brisbane is that rice can be added to sub in for cabbage. Whichever is used, the cabbage is shredded and garnished with lemon wedges. Serve sauce on the side and it’s ready to be eaten.
This dish offers a variety of health benefits. The cabbage is a great source of vitamins C and K with more than twenty percent the daily recommended value. Vitamin C helps keep cells sturdy and supported while vitamin K helps makes bone stronger.
Lemons are also a good source of vitamin C, especially the juice. The flour offers wheat benefits, as does rice if that is added to the meal. Bread crumbs, though fried, also offer the same benefits, particularly if whole wheat.
By Tully Rickets, a life long traveler with interests in ethnic food and healthy living. When he’s not blogging about healthy behaviors, he enjoys researching new ideas for his book from many blogs and health related websites.