Tonkatsu and Veggie Stir Fry – Japanese at Home.

Tonkatsu and Veggie Stir Fry

Tonkatsu and Veggie Stir Fry

Besides reading and writing, one of my favorite pastimes is going out to eat. Sometimes if I can sneak off alone, without the kid or hubby tagging along, I get some reading in while I eat, which is even better. The next best thing I like is finding something new and yummy while eating out, and then going home and searching out recipes on the internet to make that yummy food in my own kitchen, healthier.

Being diabetic, I know most Asian food served in restaurants is about as unhealthy as I can get – not counting deserts, of course. But I love, love, love Asian food! Recently my daughter introduced me to Korean cuisine– we have no Korean restaurants in our town, so we went into Vancouver and tried a couple of places, and I loved it! But I’ll post some Korean recipes some other time.

Today, it’s one of my most recent experiments, and it couldn’t have turned out any better. My hubby’s favorite restaurant in our town is an all-you-can-eat Japanese place. His favorite dish – he eats three or four of them every time we go – is pork tonkatsu. For me, it’s the sauce it’s served with. Simply put, and I can say this after making it, is that tonkatsu is nothing more than a schnitzel made with panko instead of regular bread crumbs, and the sauce is a ketchup and Worcestershire based. It’s a little bit time consuming, but hubby definitely thought it was worth it! As a side dish to the tonkatsu, I made a very simple veggie stir fry.

I made the sauce ahead of time so that the flavors could infuse while it sat in the fridge. It is very simple. The one they serve in the restaurant that I love is a little bitter, very strong flavored, and I think it might simply be ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. I grabbed a recipe online and “dieted” it up. The one I made was a little sweeter than the restaurant one, but the family enjoyed it. I still like the restaurant version a little better.

Sauce:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup Worcestershire
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • ¼ cup Splenda (originally called for sugar)
  • 1 Tblsp minced garlic – or to taste. (we LOVE garlic)
  • 1 squeeze minced ginger – to taste
    (I buy the tube of minced ginger from the produce department because it never goes bad, and none of us care for the ginger to overpower the food.)
  • Mix it all up, and put it in a container and refrigerate until you need it. Keeps well for a couple of weeks.

Tonkatsu:

  • 1 – 1½  lb pork loin, center cut pork chop, or the kind you buy already beaten into submission to make schnitzel
    I personally had half and half. Some schnitzel meat, and some center cut pork chops. If you use the pork chop or pork loin, the pieces need to be filleted no more than 1/3 inch thick if you are frying. A little thicker would be fine if you are baking. You don’t want the crust to get overcooked while the meat is trying to cook through.
  • 1 box of panko style bread crumbs – These can be found in almost every Asian section of any grocery store. If you were to use regular bread crumbs, you’d be making schnitzel, which is really tasty, too, but not Asian, of course.
  • Several whole eggs – I wound up using 5 in total, because the bread crumbs tend to soak  it up, and you double-dip the meat in egg/crumb mixture.
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • (all to taste)
  • Whisk the eggs with all the seasoning. I used a lot of garlic and onion in them.
  • Pour a good amount of panko onto a large dinner plate. Make sure it’s big enough for your meat to fit. You’ll need to refill the panko a few times to cover all the meat.
  • Rinse your pork and pat dry with paper towel.

The assembly:

  • You’ll need a big sheet pan to lay these out on to “set”. I use a jelly roll pan with a layer of parchment paper (less cleanup later).
  • Once you’re all set, take a piece of pork, dip it in the egg and coat it well, let the excess drip off, and then coat it with the panko. You then re-dip it in the egg and then more panko. The second layer should completely cover the pork so you can’t see the meat. Press the panko into the meat; it sets better that way. Lay it flat on the sheet pan. These need to set for at least 10 min. Also, if you are going to freeze any, it’s best to do it now. They cook up great later.
  • Repeat these steps with all of your pork, until they’re all coated and resting.
  • You can either fry these or bake them. The first time I made them, I fried, because that’s how the restaurant does it. But I had frozen 2 large patties, which I baked (from frozen) a few days later, and they were just as good, and slightly healthier without the oil.

For frying:

  • Heat the oil to about 350°. I used plain old vegetable oil. You don’t want it too hot or your coating will burn before the meat is cooked through. Always remember to cook pork to 160° internal temp. I pulled out my thermometer and try each piece. But you do not want to overcook or it will get tough and dry.
  • Fry until crispy and golden and then flip over and do the same for the other side. About 5 min on each side.
  • Drain on paper towel.

For baking:

  • Oven at 350-400° degrees. I cooked it on the parchment paper from frozen. It took about 20 minutes total, and I did flip them over halfway through. They’re not as pretty golden as when frying, but not bad, and still nice and crispy on the outside. Again, I used the meat thermometer just to make sure they were cooked through.

Veggie Stir Fry:

You can use just about any veggies you want in a stir fry, and for me it’s whatever looks tasty when I’m in the produce section. This night’s veggies were bean sprouts, mushrooms, onions (both green and white), broccoli, and colored sweet peppers. Sometimes I make a sauce, but this time I didn’t because the kiddo requested I make “just a stir fry.”

I cook the veggies in layers so that nothing overcooks. In a wok or deep fry pan – I don’t own a wok, but I have a 12” fry pan with 2” sides that I use in place of the traditional cookware, and it works great. Heat ¼ cup oil. I use a mixture of olive oil and sesame oil. Olive oil because it’s healthier, and sesame oil gives it a nice Asian flare. Sesame oil can be very overpowering in flavor, so don’t use too much until you’re used to working with it.

First I sauté the onions and mushrooms. Once those are mostly cooked through, I threw in the colored pepper rings and green onions. As soon as those were just starting to wilt, I threw in the broccoli. Keep stirring it up, turning it over, get the oil through everything. When the broccoli turned a really bright green – just starting to cook – I threw in the bean sprouts and put the lid on, turned the heat to low, and let it finish cooking until the sprouts are just a little wilty. They overcook very easily and get limp and unattractive. Right before I serve it, I sprinkle on some low-sodium soy sauce. This layering system keeps the foods that should be crisp-tender, like broccoli, from overcooking, but the mushrooms and onions are well cooked and the flavor spread throughout.

I simply sliced the tonkatsu in slices and drizzled a bit of the sauce on top, and then a nice amount of the veggies as the side dish. We even ate it with chopsticks.

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