sometime last week i had a craving for japanese tonkatsu, which is just fried breaded pork cutlet served over white rice. i've never made it before but it seemed simple enough. the only slightly difficult ingredient to procure was authentic tonkatsu sauce (which is just a variant of barbecue sauce) but i managed to pick up a bottle from the korean supermarket yesterday. as for cooking, tonkatsu requires deep-frying, a technique i've never tried before so that was exciting. i basically emptied a whole bottle of vegetable oil into a tall metal pot. i waited until the oil looked hot enough (a few water drops sizzled in the oil bath) then dropped in the breaded cutlets with chopsticks. i tenderized the porkchops first with a mallet, then salted and peppered them, before coating in a thin layer of flour. each cutlet was then dipped in egg before covered in bread crumbs.
i thought the whole process would be messy - i was imagining hot oil splattering everywhere - but it turned out pretty clean. i think the oil was too hot and the first two cutlets started turning black and hard before the pork had sufficient time to cook all the way through. i pulled them out with the chopsticks and cut inside. sure enough, they were still raw. i ended up cutting them up into slices and re-frying them. the final results looked more jerky than cutlet, as i fished them out and placed them on a napkin on a plate to soak up some of the excess oil. on my second attempt with the last two cutlets, i actually turned off the heat and let the cutlets slow cook in the oil. these turned out much better, although still a poor facsimile to the tonkatsu you'd find in restaurants.
the whole time i had a cup of white rice steaming in the cooker. i sprinkled some nori gomashio furikake seasoning on top of that, and served my tonkatsu with some pickled radish and a bowl of instant miso soup along with a glass of passion fruit juice. later on i tried one of the charred pork pieces - although it looks unappetizing, it wasn't all that bad. when the pot of hot oil cooled down, i used a funnel and poured it all back into its original container, to be used the next time i do any deep-fry cooking.
although i didn't smell anything when i was cooking, afterwards i realized the whole house reeked of oil, like a greasy restaurant. i noticed it on my jacket (which was in the kitchen) when i went outside to shovel the sidewalk, and i especially noticed it when i came back inside the house.
i spent most of the day in my bedroom. with the space heater turned on for just 30 minutes, it warmed up my room well enough to last several hours. i turned it once in the morning (11am) and then once more at night (6pm). it got so hot in my room during the day that i was having problems breathing. the heater has a distinctive smell, that of warm (not melting) plastic. it's the same smell as my macbook pro if i hold my nose close to the keyboard. i only ever ventured out to the living room to check on my mail and to close the blinds. for dinner i had more tonkatsu.
i watched the invasion today, that 2007 scifi thriller loosely based on the invasion of the body snatchers. despite being a failure at the box office as well as with critics, i actually liked the movie, thought it was well-made and engrossing. starring nicole kidman and daniel craig, the story takes place in washington dc, which i recognized from the subway stations. it touches on an interesting idea that in this new alien order, wars become obsolete once baser human instincts like aggression are eradicated when the alien host takes over. throughout the movie this is hinted at with background television broadcasts, as alien-converted world leaders lay down their arms in exchange for peace (it's also then explained, for those who didn't catch it, like myself). to be sure, this isn't the sole premise of the film, but it's one of the things i took from it. as for nicole kidman, she's pretty, but there's something about her i can't put my finger on. it's almost like she's too perfect, and i don't mean it as a compliment. i hope she can shake her current status as box office poison.