We're always looking for ways to keep weeknight cooking interesting, from quick but impressive options for weeknight entertaining to simple, satisfying meals that can be endlessly riffed on. We've partnered with Hidden Valley Ranch to highlight one recipe that does both.
Many cuisines have a version of a breaded fried cutlet; the Japanese take, called katsu, is pretty terrific. It’s considered an east-meets-west Japanese comfort food, usually made with pork (tonkatsu), sometimes chicken or other meats, that has been sliced or pounded thin, dredged in four, then beaten egg, then finally panko breadcrumbs before being fried. Sometimes katsu is deep-fried, sometimes it's more reservedly sautéed in a pan. It's usually served with slivered cabbage or lettuce and rice, and often a sweet-salty sauce called, appropriately enough, tonkatsu sauce.
The dish is so easy to make at home, and subsequently so easy to play with in terms of mixing things up. And really, who doesn’t like a great fried cutlet? Have at it!
Serve with rice and a pile of thinly shredded crisp lettuce or cabbage, or make this asparagus slaw to really round out the plate. You'll want to make a tonkatsu-style sauce for dipping or drizzling over the cutlets, too: In a small bowl mix together 1/4 cup ketchup, 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon mirin (rice wine; optional), 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. If you want a super simple, super fast version of katsu sauce: mix 1 to 2 parts ketchup to 1 part Worcestershire sauce—true refrigerator door sauce.
Instead of pork or chicken cutlets, try using skinless salmon filets. Make sure the heat is high enough that the breaded fish really sizzles when it hits the pan so that the fish doesn’t overcook in the time it takes the outer coating to brown and crisp up nicely. These will probably take only 2 minutes per side.
Make katsudon, a traditional dish that takes fried crisp katsu and cooks it further in a broth, all of which is then served over rice. A dashi broth is brought to a simmer, usually with a bit of mirin, sugar, soy sauce and onion added, then the sliced fried katsu cutlet is added and warmed through. A beaten egg is stirred in, and then the whole thing is transferred to a bowl of steaming rice and served hot.
Instead of plain white rice, try serving the sliced cutlets over kimchi fried rice for a Korean-Japanese fusion meal.
For extra flavor (or just a little variation), you can mix in different seasonings with either the dredging liquid or the panko breadcrumbs. For a lovely tangy version of these fried cutlets, skip the beaten eggs and use a ranch dressing for the liquid part of the dredging process. Mix together 2 tablespoons Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning Mix with 1/2 cup whole milk and 1/2 cup mayonnaise in a shallow bowl. Dip the cutlets into that dressing in between the flour and the panko steps.
You can also make a katsu sandwich by piling slices of the cutlet onto a roll and heaping it with this slaw. Add the Tonkastu sauce if you like, or just give the roll a slather of mayo, such as Kewpie (a Japanese-style mayonnaise). Or, if you went for the ranch variation of the cutlet, you may want to mix up some ranch sauce for your sandwich, too.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).