The Wilson’s Katsudon
May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which is a great excuse for us to big-up some of our staff, explore the cultures they claim and, if at all possible, eat food they made. (JK. Kinda.)
As often happens, traditional foods are one of the strongest ways cultural traditions get passed down from generation to generation. My father – who is half Black and half Japanese – was born in Osaka, but moved to the States with his parents when he was a young boy. He was always the cook in our home, and when I was a baby, I was fed octopus and udon, sweet tofu pockets stuffed with vinegared rice, delicious salted plums, fried shiso leaves and steamed soy beans.
Food ways hold on for dear life… and life is better because of it.
One of my favorite family dishes was Katsudon, which Dad always called Poor Man’s Japanese. I always felt the poor man must know what’s up because it was delicious, inexpensive, filling and somehow soothing. It gives serious chicken and dumplings vibes, just Japanese-style, and is always a favorite with the kids. Give it a try!
4 cups water
1 yellow or white onion
1-1.5 lbs. thin, lean pork cutlets, slicked into ½ inch strips.
1 Tbsp milk
Oil for frying, such as vegetable, canola or peanut
¼ cup = 1 Tbsp Kikkoman soy sauce (lower sodium is fine, if you prefer)
1 tsp Japanese Hondashi granules (bonito soup stock)
3 tsps Mirin (sweet rice seasoning)
3-4 green onions, a.k.a. scallions, sliced into thin rings.
Pour the water into a large pot, add sliced onions and cook on medium heat to soften the onions. Go ahead and add the soy sauce and let the whole mixture cook down, uncovered, for ½ -1 hour. You want some of that water to evaporate.
While that’s cooking, prepare your pork cutlet slices for frying. Beat one egg with the Tbsp of milk. Dip each piece of pork into the egg and then place it in the panko crumbs. Use your opposite hand to cover the pork with bread crumps, then clamp your fist around it gently to press the breadcrumbs into the meat firmly. Put the coated pieces on a plate. When your pork is ready, heat ¼ inch of oil in a frying pan and fry the pork until crunchy and golden brown. Place on a paper towel to soak up excess oil.
When the onion mixture has cooked down and the onions are very soft, add the mirin and hondashi and stir until the hondashi dissolves. Now, whisk the last two eggs and slice your scallions. When the onion mixture reaches a simmer, carefully place your fried pork pieces into the soup, arranging them into a layer. Then, slowly pour the whisked eggs into the soup, covering the entire area where you just placed the pork.
Finally, sprinkle the scallions on top of that, cover with a lid and let simmer for 10 minutes and serve over white rice.