I threw caution to the wind and tried my hand at tonkatsu making tonight, and learned many valuable things, which I will now pass along:
First: Cooking oil has a temperature called the “smoke point.”
This is not just a clever name.
It’s the temperature – around 450 degrees – where the cooking oil, without any visible change in appearance, starts putting off smoke and sets off every smoke detector in your apartment.
Second: If you put a breaded piece of pork into cooking oil that is too hot, the breading instantly burns while the pork stays completely raw. This again sets off every smoke detector in the apartment.
Third: Once you get the temperature of your cooking oil down to reasonable levels, if you don’t use a timer, tonkatsu cook very quickly and go from “browned” to “almost blackened” while you’re standing there asking yourself “has it been two minutes yet?”, although in this case it did not set off every smoke detector in the apartment because by this point, we had all the windows and the door open. (Outside temperature: 38 degrees Fahrenheit)
Fourth: If you were smart enough to start with four pieces of pork and lucky enough to only screw up two of them, homemade tonkatsu is yummy.
Side bonus: I have leftover steamed rice that I can use to make fried rice with tomorrow.