Inspired by Hunger

When Karin asked me to write a guest blog for Another Piece of Me, I have to admit that I was a little nervous about doing so. I didn’t know that there was anything interesting enough about my life that I’d be able to share, and that certainly hasn’t changed in these last several weeks, but here I am to give it a try anyway. But, let me start with a little introduction first –

My name is Tania-Marie and I’m a Veteran, a mama, a member of the resistance and a Pacific Islander. I live in Hawai’i (no, definitely not as glamorous as it sounds), and I love poke bowls, boots, the First Amendment, Target, reading and Matthew Daddario. I don’t like mismatched drum beats, messes, writing introductions about myself, chicken, racists and hospitals. I’m a strong, fiercely independent woman who prides herself on being the best mom possible and loving my family as hard as possible.

I’m also very glad this is over, because now I can move on to what this guest post is really about.

For as far back as I can remember, cooking and/or baking has always served as an activity that has calmed me down. (Along with cleaning, but let’s not get into that today.) I can’t say for certain why that is, but I like to theorize that the reason it calms me down is because it gives me something else to focus on – and both, but especially baking, are things that need a person’s undivided attention. The more complicated a recipe, the calmer I am by the time I’m done. And I know that, to some, it may seem counterproductive. I’ve had my own family and friends say as much more times than I could ever begin to count – because why would anyone do something complicated as a stress reliever? To each his or her own, though, and just because this works for me, that doesn’t mean it works for everyone.

Then, there’s the other side of the proverbial coin. The side that has, for most of my life, meant a very complicated relationship with food for me. There’s never been an eating disorder, for which I am grateful, but struggling with the effects of a traumatic childhood combined with health issues has definitely made eating much more of a luxury than most people. I love food, and I love to eat, but sometimes that’s not always possible with so many illnesses. And sometimes it’s just too much work to find something that I can eat without getting sick, which means that there are often foods and/or dishes that I need to avoid altogether. Not always, and there are definitely pockets of opportunity that I tend to take advantage of, but in general – I try to avoid anything too greasy, too spicy or too heavy. All of that said, though, eating is just about as happy as I can ever get and, today, I wanted to share with you all one of my personal favorite recipes of a dish that I don’t get too eat as often as I’d like: Tonkatsu.

Before I jump into that, though, I want to circle back to the fact that I’m from Hawai’i because that has always meant having a veritable melting pot of cultures and cuisines in one place, and that is perhaps one of my favorite things about living here. I can find dishes rooted in at least two to three different cultures in almost any restaurant that I go to, and when I first started trying to recreate dishes without having a recipe to look at, that was how and when and where I found my inspiration. This is a random fun fact that certainly applies to the following recipe. (And, one last thing here: I haven’t made this in a long time because I haven’t been able to eat it for a long time. So, unfortunately, I don’t have any accompanying photos to go with this, which I apologize for.)

Ingredients

  • Tray of pork tenderloin (at least 6 pieces)
  • Panko flakes (1-2 bags)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Garlic salt (optional, to taste)
  • All-purpose flour (2-3 cups)
  • Large eggs (4-6)
  • Vegetable oil (enough to cover pork in skillet or frying pan)

Directions

  • Pork should be as thin as possible, so if necessary, use a food mallet to thin the pieces out a little more.
  • Mix salt, pepper, and garlic salt (optional) with the flour.
  • Place the flour mixture, the eggs (beaten) and the panko flakes into three (3) separate containers, in that order, and set aside.
  • Season pork tenderloin with salt, pepper and garlic salt (optional), and set aside.
  • Turn stove on to medium-high, heating the oil in the skillet or frying pan.
  • While the oil heats up, take each piece of pork tenderloin and roll it around in the flour mixture, the egg wash and, lastly, the panko flakes. Make sure that it’s covered completely at each step before moving on to the next one. Do this for each piece. (You may dump whatever is left of the flour mixture, egg wash and panko flakes when done.)
  • Lower the heat on the stove to medium or medium-low (whatever works best for your stove/skillet) and, no more than two pieces at a time, set the cuts into the oil. Cook each side until golden brown and set aside to drain oil.
  • Cut into long, thin(ish) pieces and transfer to another dish.

Ingredients (Sauce)

  • Ketchup
  • Worcestshire
  • Soy Sauce
  • Mirin
  • Sugar
  • Mustard
  • Garlic powder

All of the above, to taste. I eyeball it and taste frequently while making it, so I don’t have specific measurements for each component.

Directions

  • Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl, tasting frequently. Sauce should be at about the consistency of ketchup, or close to it.

I usually serve the above with plain white rice (medium grain, prepared in a rice cooker), but it’s just as good served with potatoes (baked or scalloped).

There is so much to love about this dish – the simple nature of the pork paired with the tangy, robust flavor from the sauce is just magical. The garlicky, crispy crust on the pork does a great job of locking the juices inside the meat, so it comes out perfectly tender. And the sauce is kind of the star of the whole dish, and it goes so perfectly with the crispy, garlicky pork. I hope your family loves it as much as mine does! And, believe you me, my family definitely loves it.

3 thoughts on “Inspired by Hunger

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