Posts tagged Japanese

Why aren’t you eating … Pocky sticks

It’s a Pocky stick invasion. That’s right it used to be you could only find these Japanese treats at an Asian market. But now I’m seeing them pop up at my neighborhood grocers too (hint: look in the Asian food section or they’re sometimes stashed with the candy).

For Pocky newbies, here are the basics:

  • Pronounce it pock-e, not how I sometimes say it to rhyme with hockey
  • These are biscuit-like sticks that are coated in with a variety of flavorings, like chocolate and strawberry
  • In a well-stocked Asian grocery store, you might be able to find Pocky sticks coated with crazier flavors like green tea, sweet milk, cookies ‘n cream and more
  • Don’t buy just one box of Pocky sticks, get a couple since you’re likely to go through them quickly
  • These make for great on-the-go treats as long as they don’t sit in the bottom of the bag–they crush easily

Ready to try Pocky sticks? Or are you already a Pocky fan?

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Tonkatsu pork lettuce wraps

Fusion success–I paired crunchy Japanese pork tonkatsu with soft butter lettuce to create wraps that my kids loved. If your kids don’t seem to be eating enough greens lately, or if you’re just looking for something new for dinner (or a picnic), give these a try.

Recipe

Ingredients

1 recipe pork tonkatsu

1 head butter (Boston) lettuce

Thin red onion slices

Shredded carrot (optional)

Bulldog sauce (optional, but SO good)

Directions

Photo credit: Amazon.com

  1. Make the pork tonkatsu. Cut the meat into strips.
  2. Wash and dry the butter lettuce keeping the leaves large.
  3. Place a couple strips of pork onto the lettuce and top with slices of green onion, shredded carrots and a generous dollop of Bulldog sauce (you can usually find this in the Asian section of your grocers; also called Tonkatsu sauce).
  4. You can also offer the sauce for dipping.

Another yummy dip–equal parts soy sauce and fresh-squeezed lime.

Just a note, my oldest liked the spike of onion flavor in the wraps, but my younger two didn’t like it at all. No biggie. We went through all the lettuce and kept the extra pork to munch on for lunch the next day.

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Japanese Pork Tonkatsu

tonkatsu

Photo credit: taekwonweirdo

In every culture there seems to be some version of breaded, fried meat. In Italy, there’s veal parmigiana; in Mexico, steak doused with bread crumbs is called milanesa; in Germany, cooks use crumbs from dried Kaiser rolls to make wiener schnitzel; I suppose chicken-fried steak could count as America’s contribution to this category. In Japan, thin slices of pork are battered with panko crumbs then fried to create tonkatsu.

Last November, a friend invited me over to a pre-Thanksgiving meal where she was teaching how to cook a traditional roasted turkey, stuffing and, of course, pumpkin pie to friends of hers from Japan. Her friends knew as many English words as I knew Japanese, which amounted to two—‘thank you’ (arigato) and ‘hello’ (konnichiwa).  But once we started rolling out pie crusts, we found a common language, food. (It helped that my friend was fluent in both Japanese and English.)

As a thank-you for the afternoon of all things Thanksgiving, my friend and I were invited over for some Japanese instruction a month later. Of all the things we cooked and sampled that day (I don’t think I’ll ever have a taste for mochi balls, but the sweet bean paste was tasty), the pork tonkatsu became a favorite for our family.

You make tonkatsu as you might other breaded meats, with a few key differences. Thin slices of pork are dredged in flour, then whisked eggs, then panko bread crumbs. Using the right bread crumbs is key—panko crumbs are not only crustless, but they’re lighter than American bread crumbs, making for a crispier coating. You can find panko in the Asian food aisle of just about any area grocery store.

Serve the tonkatsu over steamed white rice and veggies. Traditionally, there’s also a ketchup-like sauce served alongside. While it’s known as ‘Tonkatsu sauce’ my Japanese foodie friends call it ‘Bull-dog’ because that’s one of the more popular brands in Japan. While some grocers carry Bull-dog, you might have to go to an Asian grocery store to track it down. It’s worth making the trip—the combination of the sweet/sour Bull-dog sauce, crisp-fried pork and rice makes for a meal my kids ask for again and again.

Recipe

Prep time: 30 minutes + 20-30 minutes cooking

Serving: 5 + leftovers

Ingredients

1.5-2 pound pork loin

3 eggs

½ Tablespoon soy sauce

1 cup flour

1 bag panko bread crumbs (usually around 7.4 ounces)

Oil for frying

Directions

  1. In three shallow dishes or plates, prepare the following (I find pie plates work nicely). One dish with 1 cup flour. Whisk the eggs with soy sauce and pour into a separate plate. On the final plate place half the bag of panko crumbs.
  2. On a cutting board, slice the pork loin into small pieces, about ¼” thick.
  3. On a clean cutting board lay a couple pieces of pork between two sheets of plastic wrap. Gently pound the meat until the slice becomes slightly thinner. Repeat with the remaining meat slices.
  4. Working with one pork slice at a time, dredge the piece in flour, then lightly tap off excess, then dip it into the egg mixture and finally the panko. Place the battered meat slice onto a baking sheet.
  5. Repeat with the remaining slices of pork.
  6. Pour oil up to ½ an inch in a cooking pan. Heat to medium-high heat (test using a crumb of panko—it should start to sizzle when place in the oil).
  7. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
  8. Gently place 2 or 3 battered pork slices into the prepared oil, fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove the meat from the oil onto a cookie sheet fitted with a wire rack to drain off excess oil.
  9. Place in the warm oven while you fry the rest of the meat slices. Cut into long strips and serve over rice (this also makes for excellent leftovers—if you have any!).
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