Pork cutlet bowl カツ丼

japanese cake

This looks like the classic lidded Japanese bowl you may see in “Taishu shokudo” 大衆食堂、which is the Japanese equivalent of American diners.  I do not remember when I got this bowl but it must have been in California. I have not used this bowl for a long time for some reason. This dish, Katsu-don カツ丼, is a classic dish being served in Japanese eateries and this bowl is perfect for it. Since we had already made pork fillet cutlets, I made this classic dish from the leftovers and frozen rice. Of course, you could make this from just fried tonkatsu and freshly cooked rice, which would be much better.

There are two distinctive styles in “Katsudon”. One type is with soy sauce based broth and beaten egg anchoring everthing together called “Tamago-toji katsudon” 卵とじカツどん, which is, by far, the most popular style and is usually referred as simply “Katsudon”. Another (more  regional and less popular) kind is tonkatsu dipped in semi-Western style tonkatsu “sauce” with shredded raw cabbage placed on the top of rice, which is called  “sauce Katsudon” ソースカツどん. I am from the area of Japan where the former style is the only type of Katsudon available. I personally never had a “sauce” Katsudon but I do not think I am missing much (I can easily image how that would taste). 

Here is the view with the lid off, served with beer marinated daikon. Perfect dish to make quickly on a weekday evening. I could have worked on the presentation, though.

To make this dish, you could use the special pan shown below (also perfect for Oyako-don 親 子丼) but I do not have one. Any small (8 inch) frying pan with a fitting lid will also work. You have to use one pan for making one serving. So, in our case, I use two 8 inch frying pans.

Broth/sauce: This is a typical dashi, soy sauce, mirin combination. How much and how strong the broth should be depends on personal preferences. Japanese diners tend to go with a strong broth and a small amount. My wife likes enough broth to moisten the rice adequately. I favor less broth but a bit stronger taste. For this evening, my broth is a compromise. For two servings, it iconsists of dashi (1/3 cup, instant granulated dashi dissolved in hot water), mirin (1 tbs), and soy sauce (1 tbs) but you have to taste and decide how sweet and how strong you would like the broth to be. You could also add sugar, if you like it sweet. I tasted and adjusted further (a bit more soy sauce). I seasoned it more severely than soup you will drink but not as strong as a dipping sauce.You could use any type of tonkatsu. I used “hirekatsu” ヒレカツ or fried fillet of pork.

I arranged the ingredients except for the snow peas in a small frying pan, which makes one serving. I used one medallion of pork per serving for us but I suggest two for most people; sliced in 1/3 inch (or about 1 cm) thick. For vegetables, I used fresh shiitake mushroom (one medium, stem removed but not sliced, with a decorative cut but you can not see it well in the picture), onion (1/4 medium, halved and thinly sliced) and snow peas (2 or more). I add the broth above (1/6 cup or half of what I made). Put a tight lid on the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes on a low flame. I add beaten egg (1 large) and the snow peas and cook another two minutes or so with a lid on.  I take the pan off the heat when the egg is just barely congealed in the center.

I place the cooked rice (in our case, microwaved froze leftover rice) in the bottom of the bowl and slide the topping onto the rice with all the remaining broth (The broth reduces a bit. The special pan in the picture comes in handy if you have one). Put the lid on the bowl and let it stand for a one minute or two. If you like the eggs to be a bit runny skip this last step. If you do, please use pasteurized shell eggs). If you have already made rice and tonkatsu, this is a very quick weekday evening meal. Everything tasted pretty good except my wife wanted more broth.

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