Tonkatsu — Light and Crispy Edition

Welcome back to byKumi.  This week, we’ll make tonkatsu, a breaded pork cutlet.  With this recipe, we’ll make tonkatsu in a way that is lighter and crispier than what you’d find at a traditional Japanese restaurant.

Ingredients

  • 1 Pork tenderloin¹
  • ~3 Heaping Tbs. White rice flour², plus more 
    Rice Flour
    Rice Flour
  • ¼ Cup Milk or Non-Dairy Substitute or water, enough to make medium thick batter
  • 6 oz. Panko (Japanese bread crumbs, any brand) 
    Panko (Japanese Style Bread Crumbs)
    Panko (Japanese Style Bread Crumbs)
  • Kosher salt (preferred) Diamond Crystal is my favorite brand. It is my go-to for all cooking and baking.
  • Black pepper
  • Garlic powder (or Garlic salt, omit above salt)
  • Oil to deep fry enough for about 1 inch deep. Refined coconut oil (not virgin coconut oil) or peanut oil are my top choices. These oils are good for high heat cooking.
  • Sauce for serving (Store bought tonkatsu sauce or homemade, see below for recipe.) A-1 or plain ketchup work as well!

¹ Can substitute with chicken. Chicken tenders work well. Remove extra fat and some of the tendon if possible on the tenders. Leave whole or cut in half.

² Purchase white rice flour from an Asian market. Bob’s Red Mill is not as finely ground and will be gritty in texture. And be careful not to purchase the glutinous rice flour. 

Ingredients for Tonkatsu Sauce

  • 3 Tbs. Ketchup
  • ~1-2 Tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Mix the above ingredients and adjust to your taste. This should be enough to make one serving.

Prepare the tenderloin

Remove gristle or extra fat and slice thinly. Cut about ¼ inch, keep thin so meat cooks evenly. Lay the slices of pork on a large plate or baking sheet. Lightly sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. (Or pepper and garlic salt.)

Bread the pork

In a small bowl, make a batter with the rice flour and milk or non-dairy substitute or water. Adjust the batter with more liquid or rice flour to achieve the right consistency. Pour some panko in a different small bowl. 

Dip one piece of pork in the batter to coat both sides and allow excess batter to drip off. Now, lay the pork in the panko. Sprinkle panko on top and press down gently to coat evenly. Flip the pork and press gently. Shake any excess panko off and set aside on a large plate or baking sheet. Continue until all the pork is breaded, making more batter if necessary. Discard any leftover panko from the breading. 

Deep frying

Add enough oil to about 1 inch in depth in the pot. Turn on the stove to medium high. Optimal stove setting will vary. 

While heating the oil, prepare a baking sheet with paper towels and cooling rack.

The oil is ready when a piece of panko dropped in the pot immediately bubbles in the oil.

Carefully place pork into the oil. Add enough to fit the pot without overcrowding, about 5-7 pcs. Be sure no pieces stick to the bottom. Let both sides fry to a nice golden color. Once fully cooked and golden in color, remove and allow to drain on the rack.

If/when the oil fills with a lot of stray panko, remove with a skimmer. The panko will blacken and burn if left inside the pot.

Repeat until all the pork is cooked. And enjoy!

Also, don’t forget to submit a photo of your creations!  You can upload your photos using my Contact form!

Yakisoba

Yakisoba is a savory, vegetable filled noodle dish that makes a great meal during the week. You can make it vegetarian, even vegan or add protein. Local grocery stores carry yakisoba kits with noodles and seasoning, or you can make it from scratch! It is really flexible and easy! (Just be sure to check ingredients as not all yakisoba seasoning is vegetarian or vegan.)

List of Ingredients for Yakisoba (1 serving)

  • ¼ Head of cabbage — cleaned and thinly sliced
  • ¼ Yellow onion (large) or ½ small — peeled and sliced
  • 2 Green onion stems — cleaned and chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 Carrot — peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal
    (Can use other vegetables too!)
  • ~1/4 lbs chicken breast/thigh meat or preferred protein (optional) — thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper — lightly sprinkle salt and pepper while frying protein and while frying vegetables
  • 1 Package of yakisoba noodles and seasoning (1 serving size)
  • Oil for cooking meat and vegetables
Packaged Yakisoba
Packaged Yakisoba

List of Ingredients for Yakisoba Sauce (1 serving)

Yakisoba Sauce Ingredients
Yakisoba Sauce Ingredients
  • ¼ C Ketchup
  • 4 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • ½ Tsp Soy sauce or Tamari Sauce
  • ½ Tsp Oyster Sauce (can omit)

Mix the above ingredients. This is very flexible and can be altered to your own tastes. This should be enough to make one serving (which is one single serving package of ramen or yakisoba noodles, plus vegetables).

List of Tools

  • Large bowl or plate — to hold the sliced vegetables (additional plate if using protein)
  • Vegetable peeler — if using carrots
  • Cutting board and knife
  • Small pot — to boil water to separate the noodles
  • Colander — for draining the noodles
  • Cooking chopsticks — to break apart noodles in water and to cook
  • 2 Spatulas — I love my narrow and long spatulas from Ikea
  • Wok like pot for cooking — medium size is sufficient
  • Serving plate

Prepare the Chicken and Vegetables

Remove gristle or extra fat on chicken and slice thinly.

Thinly slice cabbage and yellow onion into strips and place in a bowl or on a plate. If using carrots, thinly slice on an angle and add to other ingredients. Cutting on an angle makes for pretty slices. Green onions should be cut into 1 inch lengths and set aside separately.

Prepare Noodles

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add 1 package of noodles. Turn off the stove and let the noodles soften and separate. You can help separate the noodles with chopsticks but be patient, otherwise you will end up breaking the noodles into small pieces. Once the noodles separate nicely, drain in the colander and set aside.Cook the Protein

Heat the pot with 1 Tbs of oil on medium to medium high. Cook the chicken or preferred type of protein with some salt and pepper until thoroughly cooked. Set aside.

Cook the Vegetables

Add more oil if necessary and cook the crunchy vegetables (cabbage, yellow onion, carrots); just before those are fully cooked, add the green onions. Complete the frying until desired doneness. When using additional vegetables, always remember to cook the harder, crunchier vegetables first, then add other faster cooking vegetables towards the end.

Finish Cooking and Seasoning

Add the cooked chicken and the drained noodles into the pot with the vegetables. Toss to mix the ingredients a bit and then sprinkle in the seasoning packet. Toss again until thoroughly mixed, the dish is ready! Enjoy!

TIP: Too many veggies may weaken the flavor, which can be a problem if using packaged yakisoba. You can make a small amount of sauce, but many times just adding a bit of worcestershire sauce can help.

 

Also, don’t forget to submit a photo of your creations!  You can upload your photos using my Contact form!

Mama-san’s Chicken Corn Fritters

One of my favorite dishes growing up was my mom’s version of corn fritters. In fact, I loved them so much that I would make them for my own girls when they were younger! These corn fritters are hearty and pair well with lighter fare like miso soup and a salad like sunomono. The fritters also come together quickly, which makes for a fast, easy, and tasty(!) meal.

List of Ingredients for Corn Fritters

  • 1 Can of whole kernel sweet corn (15.25 ounce can = about 1 ½ cups) — (or equivalent amount of thawed frozen corn)
  • ~½ lbs chicken breast or thigh meat — cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 Bunch green onions — cleaned and chopped
  • ~5 Tbs. corn starch — doesn’t need to be exact, slightly heaping okay
  • ~5 Tbs. flour — doesn’t need to be exact, slightly heaping okay
  • 2 eggs
  • Milk or non-dairy substitute or water — use what is on hand to thin the batter
  • Salt and pepper — lightly sprinkle in salt and pepper
  • Oil for deep frying — I use an expeller pressed refined coconut oil that does not have the associated smell or taste of coconut. (Please do not use virgin coconut oil. It will flavor your food.) Peanut oil would be my second choice. You need enough to fill your pot with about 1 inch in depth.
    Healthy Traditions Expeller-Pressed Coconut Oil
    Healthy Traditions Expeller-Pressed Coconut Oil


    Both are great for frying as they tolerate high heat well.
  • Optional for serving — Coleman’s Mustard¹, Soy Sauce, or A-1 Sauce 

¹Mix a small amount of the dry mustard powder with water for desired consistency.

List of Tools

  • Medium bowl — for mixing batter
  • Spoon for mixing — I use a flatware soup spoon
  • 1 Tbs measuring spoon — to measure cornstarch and flour
  • Cooking chopsticks or tongs — for deep frying
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Heavy pot for deep frying — medium size is sufficient (~5 qt)
  • Skimmer or slotted spoon and resting plate — to remove excess stray batter pieces
  • Baking sheet or plate lined with paper towels — to soak extra oil from fritters
  • Serving plate

Making the Batter: Drain the can of corn and add to a medium mixing bowl. Cut excess fat and gristle from chicken. Cube chicken into ~½ inch pieces and add to the bowl. (Please keep the pieces small so they cook thoroughly.) Clean and chop the entire bunch of green onions and add to the bowl.

Measure about 5 Tbs cornstarch and 5 Tbs flour into the bowl. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Mix the ingredients. Now add the 2 eggs and mix to begin to form batter. Thin the batter with milk/non-dairy substitute/water to make a batter similar in consistency to thick pancake batter. Start with about ¼ cup liquid and add more if necessary.

Preparing to Deep Fry: Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot to about 1 inch deep. Turn on the stove to medium high, which is typically a good place to start. (Note: Optimal burner setting is based on type of pot, type of stove gas or electric, size of burner.)

While heating the oil, prepare a plate or baking sheet with paper towels to drain the freshly fried fritters.

The oil is ready when a drop of the batter rises to the surface immediately.

Stir the batter before adding a spoonful (~1 ½ Tbs) into the oil. Try to scoop a nice balance of chicken, corn, and green onions in each spoonful. Add enough to fit the pot without overcrowding, about 8-10 spoonfuls. Sometimes, the batter may stick to the bottom of the pot and if this happens, loosen with chopsticks or with tongs so the batter can rise to the surface of the oil. Let both sides fry to a nice golden color. Once fully cooked and golden in color, take out the fritters and allow to drain on the paper towels. (Sometimes if the oil fills with a lot of stray batter pieces, remove with a stainless steel skimmer or slotted spoon.) Add more spoonfuls of batter and repeat until all the batter is cooked. When finished, be sure to move the pot of oil off the hot burner to cool safely.

Now enjoy your fritters plain, or with hot mustard and soy sauce (which I grew up on) or with A-1 (which the rest of my family loves)!

Also, don’t forget to submit a photo of your creations!  You can upload your photos using my Contact form!

Matcha Up Your Life

Adding matcha into your life is not only tasty but also has some health benefits! One such benefit is the high amount of catechin which is an antioxidant believed to help fight cancer. However, aside from the health benefits, matcha also tends to be lower in caffeine than coffee — but there is a catch. The caffeine in matcha is slowly released over a longer period of time:  this slow release helps you avoid a coffee crash, but the caffeine effects stay with you a lot longer. So be careful what time of day you enjoy matcha, if you are sensitive to caffeine.

With that in mind, let’s dive in! We will start with a basic guide for buying matcha, and then explore ways to add matcha throughout your week. (That goes beyond just mixing with water and drinking!)

Matcha Buying Guide: (highlights)

  • Country of Origin: For highest quality only purchase matcha using tea grown in Japan. The Kyoto and Aichi prefectures are regions known for their quality.

  • Color: The color should be bright and not dull. Look for matcha that is green without a brown or yellow hue.

  • Grind: Should be finely ground preferably by stone milling. Stone milling eliminates the risk of overheating the leaves during the grinding process. Overheating can alter the flavor.

  • Price: Admittedly, I love a good deal and unfortunately, matcha is one item where I have to resist that urge. While you absolutely don’t need the best, the cost can indicate the quality and flavor. And trust me, quality makes a big difference in flavor, so be prepared during checkout.

  • Grade (Ceremonial versus Culinary): Unfortunately, there is no standard grading system for matcha. Every brand has a system which makes things…well, complicated. But there are usually two broad categories.

    • Ceremonial: Typically the highest grade made from the 1st harvest (also known as Spring harvest) tea leaves. This is usually reserved for the traditional style consumption of mixing matcha with hot water. Ceremonial grade is smoother, sweeter, and less astringent, which is perfect when drinking without any extras.

    • Culinary: Typically a lower grade made from the later 2nd or 3rd harvest (also known as Summer and Autumn harvest) tea leaves. This is used for lattes or baking where the stronger, more bitter flavor can be beneficial.

  • Organic (my preference): Since matcha is a ground tea leaf, I prefer a brand that is organic to eliminate the chemicals.

While I don’t purchase top ceremonial grade (since I really don’t need that level of matcha), I do look for a 1st harvest matcha using less premium leaves. I have tried using different harvests but I prefer the flavor of the 1st harvest. My current brand that I am very happy with is Midori Spring “Emerald Class” matcha. I use it for drinking and for baking, while also shaving some of the cost.

Add Matcha to Your Favorite Recipes

I personally love taking my favorite recipes and modifying them for a fun uplevel. Not only can the color be pretty, but it is so delicious and oh, so easy! Here are some tips and recipes for you the next time you find yourself in the kitchen with some matcha in hand.

Baked Goods

Let’s take Sugar Cookies. Here is how I transformed the recipe into a wonderful dessert to serve after a meal.

Matcha Sugar Cookies

  • Add 1-2 Tbs of matcha to the dry ingredients
    Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl with the matcha and thoroughly mix together. (I use a whisk to do this.) You are set to add your dry ingredients into wet ingredients per your recipe!
  • TIP — My general rule is to add 2 tbs of matcha for every 2 cups of flour. This is a loose guideline based on taste AND grade of matcha. A culinary grade matcha may need less. Too much matcha and the bitterness will overpower so be careful the first time around.
  • TIP — Dough Consistency
    I typically add my matcha in addition to the original amounts called for by the recipe. However, you can help dough consistency by reducing the amount of flour by the amount of matcha you intend to use. An example would be if adding 2 tbs of matcha to a recipe, then reduce the amount of flour by 2 tbs.

Takeaway: Adding 1-2 tablespoons matcha to your dry goods and mixing is all you need to remember! Don’t be afraid to try cakes, pancakes/waffles, etc…There are a number of items that can be transformed by following the same basic rule.

Smoothies

Another favorite is adding matcha to smoothies. I have a favorite frozen drink that I make that is not only very simple but refreshing and tasty.

Matcha Smoothie

Matcha Smoothie Courtesy of Annalisa Pao
  • 1 Ripe Banana
  • 1 Cup Ice
  • 1 Cup Milk or Non-dairy Substitute or Water
  • 1 Tsp Matcha
  • 2 Tbs Hemp Seed (Optional, highly recommended if using water)
  • 1-3 Tsp Maple Syrup or Sweetener to taste (Optional)

Blend the above until desired consistency. Enjoy! (Sprinkle cinnamon on top for additional flavor and color!)

Takeaway: Adding ~1 teaspoon Matcha to your smoothie and blending should do the trick. However not all smoothies pair well.

Keeping it simple will help.

Cocktails

And finally, for those of you over 21…..how about a Matcha Whiskey Sour? My daughter (Yes, she is over 21 and certified in bartending!) crafted this for me!

Matcha Whiskey Sour

Matcha Whiskey Sour Courtesy of Christina Pao
  • 4 Tsp Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • ¼ Tsp Matcha
  • ~½ oz Simple Syrup
  • 1½ oz Whiskey

Add all the ingredients and dry shake well. (Dry shake = shaker is without ice) Once the matcha is fully incorporated, add ice to the shaker and shake again! Pour into a serving glass (and if you want, add a maraschino cherry to add a pop of color to this beautiful green cocktail). Enjoy!

Takeaway: Adding ¼ tsp matcha adds color and nice flavor to a cocktail but dry shake to avoid clumping.

Those are just a few ideas but there are so many more. For instance, my daughter Annalisa makes amazing matcha ice cream (which might have to be included in a video during one of her breaks)! Experiment and see what you come up with! And, as always, let me know how it goes!


As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Mama-san’s Country Style Miso Soup

Today’s video covers miso soup but with a twist! Instead of tofu and green onions which is the traditional style, I show a country style of miso soup with potatoes and yellow onions. My mom made this for us growing up! Miso soup is a great dish to prepare throughout the year. And, when served with sushi and sunomono (from my earlier videos!), you have a complete meal! (Not including dessert, but we will cover that next week.)

Miso soup may seem a bit complicated because of the ingredients, but don’t panic. It’s actually quite simple. I will cover the basics below.

QUICK DEFINITIONS:

  • Katsuo = dried bonito (A type of fish)
  • Kombu = long strips of dried kelp
  • Wakame = cut and dried seaweed
  • Dashi = soup stock (Can be made of any combination of powdered fish, dried fish packets, powdered kombu, and/or kombu strips. I use katsuo as my powdered/dried fish of choice.)

List of Ingredients for Country Style Miso Soup

For Traditional Style Miso Soup see below.

  • 1 Pouch of Dried Katsuo — Katsuo, also know as dried bonito, is a type of fish used in my stock today. This can come in packets of dried powder or pouches of dried fish. I prefer the pouches of fish because I feel the stock has a richer flavor but I have used both with success. And if you use the powder version, just make a mental note if there is salt added or not so you can adjust accordingly. Since not all powdered packets are the same, follow the directions on the packaging for 5 cups of water. Also, note that it’s very easy to add more powder so it is fine to undershoot the measurements initially.

    Katso Pouch (Left) / Dried Bonito Packet (Right)
    Katsuo packaging

    There are several kits for dashi soup stock available on Amazon that include the dried powder or fish.

  • 2-3 pcs Kombu (approximately 5 in. long) — Kombu is a type of dried kelp used to form the dashi (i.e., stock). You can get kombu at any Asian market or on Amazon. You will notice a white powder on the kombu/kelp but that is totally normal. No need to worry, use as is! Look for kombu from Japan but any brand works.
    Kombu
    Kombu packaging
  • 2 Tbs. (I use slightly heaping measurements) of both Red and White Miso — Miso can be confusing because there are so many to choose from. I use Cold Mountain, red and mellow white. These have great flavor and better yet you can usually find this brand at the local grocery store. I have seen Cold Mountain at Safeway and Whole Foods. The blend of red and white miso makes for a nice flavor, but you can easily use just one or the other. I would say purchase what is easiest and experiment.  Amazon also sells red miso paste and white miso paste.
  • 2 Medium Russet Potatoes (About 2 cups cubed) — Red potatoes work well, too. And better yet, if you use red potatoes you don’t need to peel them!
  • 1 Yellow Onion (small is okay!) — Only a small amount is used!
  • ⅛ Cup Wakame (Cut and dried Wakame/Seaweed) — Wakame is a type of seaweed sold in cut and dried form in packages, such as this one on Amazon. Some packages have freeze dried tofu and green onions (or other extras) along with the wakame! For today’s soup, I kept it simple with the basic wakame without extras.
    Wakame Packages
    Wakame packaging
  • 5 cups water — You may need more to add after simmering the stock or to adjust the flavor.

For Traditional Style Miso Soup

Use Tofu and Green Onions Instead of Potato and Yellow Onions

  • ½ Block of Tofu (instead of potato) — Tofu comes in different softness. There is the silken or very soft tofu to extra firm. I typically use firm tofu because it is easier to purchase but use whatever texture you enjoy. Probably best to stay away from the extra firm, though.

    Cutting the Tofu: Rinse the top of the tofu container and slice open to drain out the water. Now take the block out of the container and place it on the cutting board. Cut the block in half. Set aside the portion not being used.
    When cutting into cubes for miso soup, I take half a block of tofu and cut lengthwise into 4 slices. I then lay those down two at a time and cut into 3 long strips again working lengthwise. Now turn the strips and cut into half. Those halves will be cut into 3. Now you have cubes. Repeat with the other remaining 2 slices. (Add tofu when instructions call for potatoes.)

    Preserving Extra Tofu: Take the unused block and place in a container that has a tight fitting lid. Fill the container with water (ideally filtered) until the tofu is fully submerged. Cover with the lid and place in the refrigerator. This will keep nicely for future use. Try to use it within a week.

    Cutting Tofu

  • 2 or 3 stems of Green Onions (instead of yellow onion) — Chop the green onions. (Add green onions when instructions call for the yellow onions.)
    Preserving Extra Green Onions: If you find you have chopped too much green onion, place the extra as a thin layer in a Ziploc bag and place inside your freezer. This keeps nicely with a decent flavor until the next time you make some more soup! And when frozen as a layer, you can break off what you need easily.

List of Tools

  • 3 quart pot
  • Ladle and resting plate
  • 1 Tablespoon measuring spoon
  • ⅛ cup measuring cup
  • Chopsticks (The chopsticks are not necessary but helpful, you’ll see why later!)
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Knife and cutting board
  • 2 cup measuring cup (Just to loosely measure the quantity of cubed potatoes)
  • Small serving bowl (I use a rice bowl. I have to admit that I don’t even own any traditional miso soup bowls!)

Making the Dashi (i.e., Stock)

Okay, now let’s get the dashi (i.e., stock) started. While it’s simmering, we will prepare the other ingredients….and then the dashi will be done!

  1. Add the 5 cups of water to your 3 quart pot.
  2. Add 1 katsuo pouch and 2-3 pieces of kombu. This is a popular method for making the dashi. (But don’t be afraid to make this according to your preferences whether that means kombu only, fish only, powdered fish, powdered kombu, etc…)
  3. Then, bring the pot to a boil and immediately drop to a simmer, making sure that everything is submerged. Cover your pot, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Let that continue to simmer and check once in a while.

Prepare the Potatoes and Yellow Onion

(Tofu and green onions covered above)

  1. Peel the yellow onion and set aside.
  2. If using russets, please peel. But if using red potatoes, go ahead and leave the peel on!
  3. Very thinly slice the yellow onion. I use just a tiny bit. You can easily add more if necessary.
  4. Cut the potato into ½ inch cubes. You really want the cubes to be about the same size so they cook evenly together.

Back to the Dashi (i.e., Stock)

Now our dashi should be done! (It should simmer for about 15 minutes.) Remove the kombu and the pouch using chopsticks or tongs. You can dispose of the katsuo pouch and kombu. As you can see, the water level dropped dramatically. Just add back enough water to around the starting level.

Let’s add our miso! This is where the measuring spoon and the chopsticks come in. You will be using two heaping tablespoons of both red and white miso. When you do this, take your chopsticks to break apart the miso as it enters the stock from your tablespoon. This is to avoid a big blob of miso sitting at the bottom of your pot.

Mixing in miso
Mixing in miso

Now, we can add in about 2 cups of potato (or ½ block of cubed tofu). I then added about ⅛ cup of wakame. (add more if you would like, just be careful since it’ll expand!) Add the onions (or chopped green onions) and start up the stove to bring the soup to a boil. Boil for between 30-60 seconds and then turn off the stove, cover and leave on the burner. The potatoes will be cooked after 30 minutes and your soup is ready! (If using tofu, your soup is ready immediately!)

And FYI, miso soup is very forgiving. At this point, try a little, and, if the flavor is weak, add some more miso. Or if the flavor is too strong, add some water. And that’s it! And when you are ready to eat, just reheat!

By the way, my family loves to eat miso soup with Tabasco! Definitely give it a try!

Hope you enjoy!


As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.