This is my take on the classic Japanese deep-fried pork cutlet called tonkatsu. I serve the tonkatsu in bite-size pieces on lettuce cups, making them the perfect starter or for entertaining. The tempura flour and panko breadcrumbs results in an extra crispy yet feather-light coating when fried. This is a great recipe to use up any off-cuts of pork meat, too.
Freezing time: about 1 hour
Level of difficulty: medium
- 1 kg skinless pork belly, coarsely chopped
- 5 pieces negi (spring onion sticks)
- 50 g tempura flour (see note)
- 50 ml tempura batter (see note)
- 250 g panko breadcrumbs (see note)
- vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- karashi sumiso (hot mustard miso dressing) (see note)
- small butter lettuce leaves, trimmed
- store-bought tonkatsu sauce (see Note)
- Japanese mayonnaise
- very finely shredded red cabbage
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Steam the pork belly for about 15–20 minutes or until cooked, then cool to room temperature.
In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the pork belly at room temperature for 1 minute (until it falls apart and the texture is like a forcemeat stuffing).
Take the mix from the bowl and spread thinly and evenly on a large piece of plastic wrap as if it were sushi rice and place the negi in the centre.
Roll up tightly like a log, twisting the ends of the plastic wrap to secure and place in the freezer until it firms up.
Once firm, remove the plastic wrap and slice into bite-sized slices. Place the flour, batter and panko breadcrumbs in separate bowls. Heat enough vegetable oil in a wok for deep-frying. When the oil is hot, lightly dust the tonkatsu slices in the flour, then dip in the batter, then the panko crumbs and deep-fry until golden and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. You may need to cook in batches.
To serve, place 3 ml of karashi sumiso in the centre of each lettuce leaf. Place a deep-fried tonkatsu on top of the dressing, top with some tonkatsu sauce and a small squeeze of mayonnaise. Top with a little shaved red cabbage to finish.
• You can find all of these ingredients at a Japanese or Asian grocer. To make the tempura batter, follow the directions on the packet. My favourite brand of tonkatsu sauce is Bull Dog.
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20°C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55–60 g, unless specified.
Recipe courtesy of Saké Restaurant & Bar