A recipe for katsudon, plus tonkatsu and pork in The Japan Times

My October article for The Japan Times is all about pork in Japan, with a recipe for tonkatsu. Tonkatsu is arguably the best known pork dish from Japan, though there are plenty of others, since Japanese people eat almost as much pork as they do chicken and beef combined. I also delved a bit into the historical relationship between meat, especially pork, and the Japanese people. For instance, you'll see how Buddhism-influenced official edicts discouraging or even outright banning the eating of meat were circumvented by some - they just said meat was 'medicinal'! Anyway, I hope you check it out.

I already have a (rather old) recipe for tonkatsu on this site, but I've given more detailed instructions and a different method for frying the tonkatsu (in two stages, at two different temperatures) for a crispier coating.

As an aside, I'm really proud of the frying photos we took (The Guy took care of the lighting and so on, while I did the 'styling', which mainly involved keeping the breading looking as clean ss possible.) Looks great, don't you think?

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No you don't want to be eating deep fried foods all the time. But on occasion - why not?

Katsudon, which means 'cutlet (rice) bowl', is a popular variation on tonkatsu. You could make it with leftover tonkatsu, though it's much better with a freshly made one of course. If you do make it with a leftover tonkatsu, reheat it in a dry frying pan, the oven or an toaster oven (not the microwave, where it will turn tough on the inside and soggy on the outside) until heated through ahd re-crisped.

(Safety note: If you have had katsudon in Japan, the egg part may have been very loose and almost raw. I'm very hesitant to post recipes with uncooked egg in them, since in many oountries you just can't be sure that the eggs will be safe to eat that way. That's why the egg here is at the soft-omelette stage. If you are sure your eggs are fresh, or you're using pasteurized eggs, by all means undercook them so they haven't yet set at all.)

Recipe: Katsudon

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Per serving:

  • 1 bowl of hot steamed rice
  • 1 tonkatsu, freshly made or reheated, sliced
  • 2 medium fresh eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 small onion, sliced thinly
  • 50ml / about 1/4 cup dashi stock, or water plus a pinch of dashi stock powder
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sake (leave out if you can't use alcohol)
  • some chopped green onion or mitsuba leaves for garnish

This cooks very fast, so make sure everything is ready to go before you start.

Put the hot rice in a bowl. Arrange the tonkatsu slices on top.

Put the onion and dashi in a small pan and bring up to a boil. Add the soy sauce and sake. Boil another minute.

Add the eggs and start beating with chopsticks vigorously. Your aim to is to have very loose, soft scrambled eggs (though if you are not sure about the age or provenance of your eggs, cook them a bit longer). When the eggs are still loose, pour them over the rice and tonkatsu.

Add garnish, and eat immediately while piping hot. You should have to blow into your bowl as you eat to cool it down.

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