tonkatsu+-+pork+cutlet-1

Guys I’m back at it; both in the kitchen and ready to post.  The start of summer brings birthdays galore in our family; combined with graduations, family reunions, and summer travel it’s all a girl can do to get responsible again. We’ve been taking big glorious trips with our two kids, thinking at any moment they will say “I don’t want to be with you older, parenty people for that long. You make everything a lesson when sometimes a cat cafe is just a cat cafe.” Oh it’s coming.

We just returned from Japan.I wrote this post from Moto-Hakone where we had to slap ourselves like sumo wrestlers to believe the breathtaking setting from our ryugin, a kind of Japanese bed and breakfast, that was perched on a lush hillside overlooking Lake Ashi.  Just an hour outside of Tokyo, this sleepy town seemed to be a throwback from yesteryear.  It provided a much needed cooler lake air and a peaceful break in what was otherwise a hustled trip to take in all Japan had to offer. We got a glimpse and it was spectacular.

The kinetic energy of Tokyo required a break, which must explain the arid, beautiful zen gardens sprinkled about the city.  By comparison, the sublime flavors of authentic fresh, umamied sushis and yakitoris required a break.  Don’t get me wrong..every succulent bite we ate was better than the last, but after awhile our nubile palates needed a smack of cheeseburger or a simply another type of food.  That’s where  tonkatsu – a common Japanese preparation of breaded pork cutlets came in.  Similar to breaded chicken cutlets, but with the saltier, stronger flavor of pork and lighter panko crumbs for a coating. The combination is divine.

I prepared tonkatsu at home and accompanied it with a summer salad of watermelon, tomato and arugula. This is a surprisingly light recipe with powerful flavors.  And it cooks up fast, which is desperately needed during these hot spells. It’s easy to prepare ahead of time, in fact the Japanese have pre-cooked tonkatsu and other breaded foodstuffs available at specialty counters and grocery stores. We suggest preparing up to your sauté step for a do-ahead solution.

breaded pork cutlet & watermelon salad

preptime 20 minutes                             serves 4-6

cooktime 10 minutes

  • 2 cups 1/2″ cubes watermelon
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups (lightly packed) baby arugula
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided
  • 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice plus
  • 4 lemon wedges
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper plus more
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 4 4-ounce boneless center-cut pork chops, pounded to 1/8″ thickness
  • 6 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided.
  1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk olive oil, 1 tablespoon mustard, and juice in a small bowl. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Set salad and dressing aside.
  3. Whisk eggs and 1 tablespoon mustard in a medium bowl.
  4. Combine panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper on a large plate.
  5. Season pork lightly with salt and pepper.
  6. Dip pork cutlets in egg mixture, then in panko, pressing to adhere.
  7. Working in 2 batches, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and cook pork until golden brown and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side, adding 1 tablespoon vegetable oil after turning.
  8. Drain on paper towels.
  9. Toss salad with dressing; season to taste with salt and pepper.
  10. Serve pork with salad and lemon wedges for squeezing over.
adapted from bon appetit/epicurious and provided by your friends at crunchtimefood.com

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