With summer coming to an end, that means that it is no longer too hot to be frying things. And so, I made one of my wife’s favorite things to eat, tonkatsu. Tonkatsu is thin pieces of pork with a panko crust. It is similar to a chicken milanese and pretty much the exact same thing as a schnitzel. But what really sets tonkatsu apart from it’s culinary counterparts is the sauce.
1. Pound it: you’ll need to pound out your pork loin chops into thin layers. The pork I bought from Trader Joe’s was already sliced thin. But I tried to pound it out a little thinner anyway. (If you used chicken instead of pork, you’d have chicken milanese).
2. bread it: dredge each slice of pork in flour, then egg wash, then panko breadcrumbs (if you used regular breadcrumbs, you’d have schnitzel).
3. fry it: I put a little bit of canola oil in a pan and fried the pork. In my pan, I could fit two at a time. The pork is pretty thin, so once the breadcrumbs look done, the pork will be done too.
4. eat it: I served this up with some rice and some steamed green beans.
And of course, I also served up some katsu sauce. Katsu sauce is one of my favorite flavors in the world. It’s a wonderful Japanese flavor, and, like barbecue sauce, it has hints of sweet, savory and tangy.
This sauce is hard-ish to find at grocery stores. The big Dominick’s on Clybourn in Chicago doesn’t carry it. Neither does Marketplace, the independent grocery store in Lakeview, which is surprising because it does carry an impressive variety of other Asian ingredients. Surprisingly, when I go to the Wal-Mart in Dubuque, Iowa near my in-laws’ house, I can find it there. But in Chicago, I have to go to the Korean grocery store off Belmont to find it. And whenever I go, I always pick up two bottles. Because few things are as disappointing as running out of katsu sauce.
The katsu sauce goes perfectly with pork, and it’s so perfectly tasty that I’m surprised this dish hasn’t become more mainstream. The first time I had this was sometime in the early 90s, or whenever it was when I was last in Korea. I spent the summer there, and whenever I was left alone with just my uncles (none of whom knew how to cook, naturally), we always either went out for this or had it delivered. Every time I eat this dish, I am still reminded of those meals.