Tonkatsu (Japanese Pork Cutlet) with Red Kampot Pepper

Okay, so I get pretty excited about this one. When I lived in Japan, after finishing school, Tonkatsu was my go-to meal. If I wasn't demolishing the sushi train or drinking chicken curry, you would find me at my favourite little Tonkatsu restaurant (Ninjintei in Yuzawa, Niigata prefecture). 

Aside from delicious side plates and large Sapporo beers, Tonkatsu was its only dish. They did it so well. The restaurant was rammed every night of the week. In winter, a queue even formed down the road. Ninjintie was not just a favourite of mine; it was a go-to for residents of Yuzawa and visiting tourists alike. 

So without further ado, you'll need:

  • 2 famished mouths
  • 2 enormous boned pork loin steaks
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Milk or egg (or unsweetened coconut milk for vegan or allergen-prone folk)
  • Flour
  • Half a litre of frying oil
  • 1 green cabbage
  • 1 cup of rice
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce 
  • Stony Groves Red Kampot Pepper
  • Maldon salt

Prep part 1: Thinly cut enough green cabbage for two. Put breadcrumbs, flour, and milk/egg/coconut milk in three separate bowls. Combine two parts hoisin with one part Worcestershire (you might want to make half a jar full as this dish will become a weekly). Pour oil into wok (or a deep pan) and bring to 180 degrees celsius after you have completed prep part 2. Place a kitchen towel under a wire baking rack (this is to put the loins on during and after cooking).

Prep part 2: Make deep incisions in the loin (an inch apart to form a criss-cross pattern). Now you need to tenderise the loins. Pound and pound and pound them with a meat hammer. Do not worry about deforming them - it's what they need. Push together to reform and generously sprinkle with cracked Stony Groves Red Kampot Pepper and salt. Finally, coat in flour, then milk/egg/coconut milk, and then breadcrumbs. 

Cooking: This is the fast part and you'll need to be totally on your game. Place rice in boiling water and simmer for 15 minutes or until cooked. Taking into account the rice timing, carefully place loins in oil and cook for 1 minute each side. Remove and place on the wire rack and rest for 4 minutes. Return loins to oil and cook for 45 seconds to 1 minute each side, then remove and rest for another 2 minutes. In terms of colouring and the second fry, your loins want to look like the photo above.

To serve, place rice, cabbage, and a loin on each plate. Drench with sauce (or serve sauce on the side) and, Dekiagari (voila), you've made it to heaven.

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