Katsudon Daisakusen

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Every once in a while, I would develop an indescribable obsession with a type of food or a particular recipe (past fancies include kewpie mayo, banana bread, carrot cake, pistachio macaroons, and sesame salad dressing). The latest dish that I have been trying to perfect is my homemade version of katsudon. It has been three years since I first started making katsudon myself. However, it is only recently that I began to strive actively for the amelioration of the final product: a friend made me katsudon the other day for dinner and inspired me to re-work my katsudon and incorporate some of her techniques.

The following is a delineation of my latest attempts and my afterthoughts. It is not related to bento, but Frank Tastes is the best place for me to conduct discussions on cooking. So please, let me indulge myself a little, and I hope you will enjoy this too.

Ingredients and Procedure

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To make katsudon, we obviously need fried pork chops first. For this, we will need:

  • 1 pork chop
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup panko

For the pork chops, I usually use the thin rather than the thick cuts. This is only because the meat sold at the supermarkets in Montreal are wanting in quality and good fat distribution. As for the bread crumbs, while I have used “freshly” made crumbs from stale bread, I find that panko produces the crispiest results.

Aside from the fried chops, the following are also required to complete the donburi favourite:

  • 5 tbsp dashi
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 10 cm of green onion, finely chopped
  • cooked rice for one person

Often, regular onions, instead of green onions, are used. I personally like the taste of green onions better with katsudon and would reserve regular onions for oyakodon. The green onions also add a nice touch of green.

There are two main stages to making katsudon: frying the pork chop and simmering it with the scrambled egg. I will not go into a lengthy discussion on deep-frying, as I don’t have any new remarkable discoveries concerning the matter. The only thing I want to add is that it is not important at this stage to ensure that the chop is thoroughly cooked. Since we will be cooking the meat again in the second stage, we can direct our energy to making the coating golden and crispy.

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After letting the fried pork chop cool for a bit, slice it into manageable pieces. With that, we are ready to embark upon the next phase of katsudon-production (excuse my exaggerated language; I am just a bit excited).

In a small pot and over medium heat, mix the dashi, soy sauce, and mirin. Next, carefully place the pork slices into the pot, without disturbing their original sequence (this is solely for aesthetic reasons). Wait until the sauce base starts to boil, and pour the scrambled egg over the pork. What we want here is the interlacing of the egg with the pork slices, a marvelous sight to behold. Then, quickly scatter the chopped green onions over, turn the heat down to a medium-low setting, and cover the pot with a lid. It should take no longer than two minutes before the egg is set. We have to be careful with the timing, or else the egg gets old and the pork tough.

While the egg and the pork are happily simmering away, have the rice ready in a big bowl. When everything is ready, spoon any juices from the pot onto the rice and carefully top it off with the egg-pork mass. If you are like me who is a sucker for shichimi, feel free to add a dash or two.

Ta-da!

Afterthoughts

I am satisfied with my current product, although I think there is still room for improvement. Two flaws that I want to correct are the coating of the pork chop and the dashi-soy sauce base. For the coating, I dislike its tendency to dissociate from the meat as a discrete crust. This does not effect the taste but is a matter of texture. My plan for future trials is to omit the flour and just use the egg and the panko. As for the dashi-soy base, I feel that it is lacking depth. I wonder if there is a missing ingredient or step that can improve its taste (any suggestions?). Hmmm….

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6 comments

  1. lilythelily

    How about adding some sugar in dashi mixture?

  2. lilythelily: Thanks for the advice! I’ll look into it. :)

  3. I have a recipe for chicken crusted with peanuts and sesame seeds. The technique for getting the coating to stick is to dredge the chicken in potato starch, then egg white, then the seeds, then deep-fry. A recipe for crispy chicken cutlet has you dredge the chicken in flour, then dip into egg mixed with a little water, dredge again in flour, dip again in egg, and finally dredge in panko. Deep fry.

    Both of these recipes have a bit of worcestershire sauce added to the sauces served with them.

  4. Tess: Thanks for the tips! I didn’t think about dipping the cutlets into flour twice… Would that also result in a heavier/thicker coating?

  5. I don’t think so/maybe a little? You shake MOST of the flour off the first time, dip in the thinned egg white, and let the chicken “dry” on a wire rack while you do all the other pieces. I think it makes the very thin layer of flour turn into a sort of glue as it sits for a the few minutes while you are working? My recipe doesn’t say to wait, but that’s how I did it. Also I probably get distracted and work on something else before I do the second dipping because I try to multi-task more than I should. This recipe is not on my blog yet. Then you dip all the pieces in flour again one at a time. It gets sticky again, and last, the panko.

    The potato starch method (with the sesame seeds and crushed peanuts) is related to velveting the chicken (and it seems to work for pork as well?). I just posted about velveting the chicken for a stir-fry. But I don’t know if that would make the panko stick to your meat better. It makes it tender and juicy though.

  6. Tess: Wow, thanks for the detailed response! I never thought about giving the coating a bit of a waiting time… The potato starch method with the sesame and peanuts sounds delicious. I will definitely check it out. Even if I don’t reference it for katsu, I would still love to try out that coating.

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