Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Nani Kore??? Tonkatsu

What is Tonkatsu? I thought that since I am not doing much bentoing lately due to my mad dash in getting ready for our big move back to the USA, that I would do a few "Nani Kore" posts! Today I will go into detail about the yumminess that is TONKATSU!Living here in Japan for the past 6 years I have eaten my fair share of Tonkatsu. My favorite is Tonkatsu smothered in spicy curry with a nice fluffy peice of nan bread on the side!

Tonkatsu was invented in the late 19th century & is a popular dish in Japan. It consists of a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet one to two centimeters thick and sliced into bite-sized pieces, generally served with shredded cabbage. Either a pork fillet or pork loin cut may be used; the meat is usually salted, peppered and dipped in a mixture of flour, beaten egg and panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) before being deep fried.
It was originally considered a type of yōshoku—Japanese versions of European cuisine invented in the late 1800s and early 1900s—and was called katsu-retto ("cutlet") or simply katsu. Early katsu-retsu was usually beef; the pork version, similar to today's tonkatsu, is said to have been first served in 1890 in a western food restaurant in Ginza, Tokyo. The term "tonkatsu" ("pork katsu") was coined in the 1930s.

Tonkatsu has Japanized over the years more so than other yōshoku and is today usually served with rice, miso soup and tsukemono in the style of washoku (traditional Japanese food) and eaten with chopsticks. Recently, some establishments have taken to serving tonkatsu with the more traditional Japanese grated daikon and ponzu instead of tonkatsu sauce.
Tonkatsu is also popular as a sandwich filling (katsu sando) or served on Japanese curry (katsu karē). It is sometimes served with egg on a big bowl of rice as katsudon—an informal one-bowl lunchtime dish.
Regardless of presentation, tonkatsu is most commonly eaten with a type of thick Japanese Worcestershire sauce called tonkatsu sauce, often simply known as sōsu ("sauce"), and often with a bit of spicy yellow karashi (Japanese mustard) and perhaps a slice of lemon. Some people like to use soy sauce instead. In Nagoya and surrounding areas, miso katsu—tonkatsu eaten with a miso-based sauce—is a specialty.
Variations on tonkatsu may be made by sandwiching an ingredient like cheese or shiso leaf between the meat, and then breading and frying. For the calorie conscious, konnyaku is sometimes sandwiched between the meat. And in Waseda, Tokyo, a restaurant serves a tonkatsu with a bar of chocolate sandwiched inside, sometimes compared to a Western creation: the deep-fried Mars Bar. Pretty Cool huh!

There are several variations to tonkatsu that use alternatives to pork:
1.Chicken katsu is a similar dish, using chicken instead of pork. This variant often appears in Hawaiian plate lunches.
2.Menchi katsu is a minced meat patty, breaded and deep fried.
3.Hamu katsu, a similar dish made from ham, is usually considered a budget alternative to tonkatsu.
4.Gyū katsu, also known as bīfu katsu, is popular in the Kansai region around Osaka and Kobe.
5.Saengseonkkaseu is a Korean fish-cutlet modelled on the Japanese fry. In Korea, this dish is known as donkkaseu, a simple transliteration of the Japanese word to Korean.

Mrs. Pikko from Adventures In Bentomaking made the most adorable bento with froggies and some yummy tonkatsu that I wanted to share with my readers. Click HERE to see her cute tonkatsu bento!