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.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 45 min
  • Active: 45 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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Ingredients

1 large head green cabbage, outer leaves and core discarded then sliced paper thin on a mandoline or with a very sharp knife (about 6 cups)

4 boneless pork rib chops, each about 7 ounces and 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Peanut oil, for frying 

1 cup all-purpose flour  

3 large eggs, beaten 

2 cups panko breadcrumbs 

Sea salt 

1/4 cup minced chives 

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving 

Sea salt  

Carrot-Ginger Vinaigrette, for serving, recipe follows

Bull Dog brand tonkatsu sauce, Japanese hot mustard and cooked Japanese short-grain rice, for serving

Carrot-Ginger Vinaigrette:

1/2 pound peeled carrots (2 to 3 medium), coarsely chopped

1 cup peanut oil 

1/3 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup peeled, chopped fresh ginger 

1/4 cup chopped shallots

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 

1 tablespoon sugar (or more, depending on the acidity of the vinegar)  

8 shiso or perilla leaves, optional 

Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper 

Directions

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. Heat 3 inches of oil in a large pot to 350 degrees F.  
  4. 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.  
  5. 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.  
  6. While the cutlets cook, combine the cabbage with the chives, lemon juice and salt in a large bowl and toss. 
  7. 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.  

Carrot-Ginger Vinaigrette:

  1. 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.

Cook’s Note

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.

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