Fried meat ball メンチカツ

japanese cake

This dish brings back the memories from my childhood. This type of deep fried minced meat dish is considered a very “homey” dish in Japan.  These type of dishes, however, are now widely available freshly prepared in many stores including the basement gourmet food floors of department stores in Japan. Any breaded and fried dish which uses “minced” meat is called “minchi or menchi katsu” ミンチカツ or メンチカツ which is short for a “minced meat cutlet”. More detailed discussion of this subject can be found here, although the discussion is in Japanese.

Another variation is Japanese potato croquets コロッケ made of mashed potatoes with minced pork and onion, breaded and deep fried. In the “old days”, it was said that, depending on your economic condition at any given time, the ratio of the meat and potato varied. For example, just before payday, many housewives would get by making croquettes made of 100% potatoes and onions. In any case, this is what my mother used make. It is a cross between “menchi-katsu” and “croquets”. Now this is a perfect dish in Home Izakaya.

I usually use the raw trimmings and scraps left over from preparing pork tenderloins for other dishes. A more fatty portion of meat like pork shoulder may make this dish better. I mince the pork with my knife but, of course, you could use a food processor or buy ground pork, beef or a mixture of ground meat. Sauté minced onion, garlic and chopped Shiitake mushroom (optional) in a small amount of vegetable oil until soft. Season with salt and pepper and let it cool to room temperature and mix in the minced pork and chopped parsley.  I add a splash of Worcestershire sauce, freshly ground nutmeg, egg, Japanese “Panko” bread crumbs. Mix well and make golf-ball size balls. Dredge it in flour, egg water, then panko. Deep fry until golden brown. I like to serve this with “tonkatsu sauce” and hot Japanese mustard.

For the accompaniment, I made a type of coleslaw. Although, finely shredded raw cabbage will be the traditional side for this dish, my wife does not particularly like it. So I made this coleslaw. Shred or finely julienne cabbage, salt it lightly and let it stand for 5-10 minute. Ring out moisture from the cabbage. I added julienned carrot and cucumber for color. This time, I dressed it with my version of honey mustard dressing. The dressing is made of Dijon mustard, honey, rice vinegar and olive oil with salt and pepper to taste. You could use other dressings such as mayonnaise or sesame oil and soy sauce vinaigrette dressing instead.

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