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Impress with Panko

By David Hu

Panko, Japanese breadcrumbs, is a hot ingredient these days, having moved out of Japanese kitchens and into the mainstream, appearing on fine dining menus across the country – and now even at Wendy’s! The difference between panko and western breadcrumbs is that panko has ragged, craggy surfaces, making for a crispier and lighter coating.

A classic Japanese dish that is synonymous with panko is tonkatsu – thin slices of pork that is coated in panko and fried until golden. While I often order tonkatsu when I eat out, it is extremely easy to make at home. It only requires five ingredients plus bottled dipping sauce, and shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes from start to finish.

Tonkatsu is usually served on a bed of shredded cabbage with a dip of tonkatsu sauce, available in most Asian markets or in the International products aisle of your supermarket. If you can’t find it, you can make a sauce with ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce as a substitute.

To get the recipe and shopping list on your smartphone (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android device) or PC, click here.

2 thin-cut boneless pork loin chops
Salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup flour
1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Tonkatsu sauce for dipping

Using a meat pounder, pound pork cutlets to ½-inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper.

Beat egg in a shallow bowl, large enough to fit the pork cutlet. Put the flour and panko on separate plates.

Dip the cutlet in flour, coating each side; shake off excess. Then dip the floured cutlet in egg, coating each side; shake off excess. Now put the cutlet into the panko, pressing the panko into the cutlet on each side to coat completely. Repeat for second cutlet.

Pour about 3 inches of oil into a deep skillet and heat on medium high. Using leftover panko, drop a small amount into the oil. The oil is ready when it starts to bubble around the panko.

Gently slide the cutlet into the oil; be careful because the oil is hot and may spatter. (If your pan is not large enough to hold the two cutlets, cook them one at a time.) Fry the cutlet until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Time will depend on the size of your cutlet and your heat. Briefly drain on paper towels. Serve hot. Make 2 servings.

Serving suggestions:

  • Serve with prepared tonkatsu sauce or make your own by combining 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 teaspoons Worcester sauce and 2 teaspoons soy sauce.
  • If eating with chopsticks, cut the tonkatsu crosswise in ½- to 3/4-inch strips before plating. If eating with a fork and knife, you can leave the cutlet whole.

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