Crispy Pork Cutlets (Tonkatsu) with Shaved Cabbage Salad and Ginger Vinaigrette
The pork quality is essential to this dish and you need a tender cut with lots of good marbling. I use a boneless rib chop with very even and dense marbling. I also prefer my cutlets to be thick, as this helps to keep the meat from drying out as you fry it. Please use a heritage breed of pork such as Kurobuta, Berkshire or Iberico; they all have superior flavor and marbling.
Soak the cabbage in ice water for 20 minutes. Drain thoroughly then spin very dry in a salad spinner (or pat with paper towels). Set aside.
Meanwhile, carefully score the flat sides of the chops with a paring knife at 1-inch intervals, about 1/4 inch deep. Season with kosher salt and pepper.
Heat 3 inches of oil in a large pot to 350 degrees F.
Put the flour, eggs and panko in 3 separate shallow bowls. Season the flour with salt and pepper. Dredge each chop in the flour, shaking off the excess; dip in the egg, then dredge in the panko, pressing to help the crumbs adhere.
Fry the cutlets in a single layer, working in batches if need be, until medium browned (not burnt), 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the cutlets to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet and season immediately with sea salt.
While the cutlets cook, combine the cabbage with the chives, lemon juice and salt in a large bowl and toss.
Place each cutlet on a plate; add a pile of the seasoned cabbage and dress with the vinaigrette. Serve right away with some tonkatsu sauce, a smear of Japanese hot mustard on the edge of plate, lemon wedges and bowls of rice on the side, if you like.
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a simmer. Add the carrots and cook for 1 minute. Drain then immediately plunge in ice water. Drain again, then place in a blender. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Season with salt and white pepper. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 week. Makes 3 cups.
Bull Dog brand tonkatsu sauce, Japanese hot mustard and Japanese short-grain rice are available at Japanese markets and on Amazon.
I make this dressing and keep it in my fridge at all times--it's that good. The shiso or perilla (beefsteak plant leaf) is available at any Asian grocery and many conventional markets.