Apparently it's Japanese week here in the Filipino/Korean household. Last night we had chicken katsu for dinner. Tonkatsu is a Japanese PORK cutlet that is breaded and fried and served with a rich sauce. This dish has become a favorite for Korean restaurant owners to put on their menus only in our Koreanese (Korean/Japanese) we call it donkatsu. Hahah one letter difference: T versus D. While I love a good tonkatsu it's made with pork and I only had chicken on hand. Chicken katsu is usually found more in Hawaiian style restaurants.
Traditional to the Korean version of the Japanese tonkatsu it is served with a shredded cabbage salad with Thousand Island dressing. I don't know why but Koreans love Thousand Island dressing. It's like their ambrosia or something. Mark has observed this over the years growing up in Irvine, CA as well.
A Japanese (Korean style Japanese however) restaurant in Buena Park, CA called Yoko serves my favorite donkatsu. What makes the whole experience really FUN is while waiting for your donkatsu they give you a Japanese style mortar and pestle with toasted sesame seeds. You are to grind the seeds as much as you prefer and they pour the katsu sauce on top of the sesame seeds. It's SOOOO FUN! *Clapping hands loudly* As you grind the seeds you hear them popping and you can smell the nutty aroma of the ground sesame. I like having a lot of sesame seeds in my sauce. *Droool* I love it so much that I have my own Japanese mortar and pestle (you can find it at any Japanese market like Mitsuwa or Marukai)! I tried to mimic the experience at home too.
Anyway, here's what I did to make the chicken katsu at home:
Chicken Katsu (highly adapted from a recipe, here), serving for 2
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (cut large breasts (kee kee) horizontally if needed) - pound to 1/2 thickness
1/4 cup of flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 tsp paprika
2 eggs, beaten
5 dashes of favorite hot sauce (optional)
1 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs (and as needed)
1. In a heavy-bottomed skillet or dutch oven (what I used to minimize splatter) heat enough vegetable oil to cover 1/2" the bottom of the pan with oil. Heat over med-high heat. Test oil readiness by putting in a small piece of panko to see if it will begin frying. It should not turn dark brown immediately but should begin sizzling.
2. Prepare 3 large containers. In the first container whisk all flour mixture ingredients. In second container whisk all egg mixture ingredients. In the third container put panko bread crumbs evenly on the bottom. Once the oil is ready reduce heat to medium. First coat the pounded chicken with the flour mixture, dusting off any excess. Then quickly dip each side in the egg mixture. Lastly, coast the chicken with the panko by pressing it into the chicken with your hands. Immediately place chicken in oil for frying.
3. Don't over crowd the pan. This might mean that you do one or two pieces of chicken at a time. Fry each side until golden brown, about 3-4 min on each side. Place katsu on a paper towel lined tray to absorb extra oil or better yet place katsu on a drying rack with a rimmed baking sheet to drain extra oil while keeping the crust from steaming itself. Don't stack the katsu as this will also steam the katsu and make the outside mushy. After the first batch is done let the oil reach its hot temp again as you prep the next piece of chicken with the flour, egg, panko process.
4. Cut width-wise into 1" slices and serve with katsu sauce. Serve warm.
Cabbage Salad, serving for 2
1/4 medium cabbage
Thousand Island dressing (bottled or see recipe below)
1. Remove any part of the cabbage core. Shred using a food processor or a mandoline.
2. Give each serving a heaping amount of shredded cabbage and top with dressing.
Homemade Cabbage Salad Dressing:
1 part mayo (I think I used 1/4 cup of mayo)
1/2 part ketchup
1/4 part yellow mustard
1 spear kosher dill pickle, seed part removed and finely diced
dash of paprika, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, cayenne powder, hot sauce, lemon juice
salt and pepper
1. Mix everything together. Best if made several hours before to let the flavors meld together.