with the early edition monday in play, i walked to the dollar store to get some 16 quart sterilite plastic boxes ($3.50/box). i first began using them to store all my perishables on the kitchen baker's rack that one winter i discovered mice had been eating my food. it wasn't too long before i realized they also worked great in the metal shelves inside my hallway closet (which is now partially a grow house). i used to use cardboard boxes to store my stuff but the problem is whenever i needed to find something, i had to open all the boxes to see what was inside. because these plastic boxes are see-thru, it makes organization a lot easier. i still use the cardboard boxes for stuff i don't use often.
i motorcycled to the cafe in the late morning to finally deliver the camera along with the batteries and a spare memory card. i ended up getting some breakfast there, rice porridge with a salted duck egg (why duck eggs? bigger than a chicken egg i suppose, more bang for your egg bucks). my father and i discussed getting the brake pads on my motorcycle replaced, but after some online research last night, i'm going to hold off on it until inspection time.
back at home, i continued cleaning out my closet, figuring out what should be thrown away, what can be stored in the basement, and what can be consolidated and put into those newly purchased plastic bins. i came across some carrying pouches i got in southeast asia, and remembered my mother wanted one to carry her camera/ipod when she went to china. i called to let her know, and she said my father would come pick it up later, on his way to market basket to get some supplies. i tagged along for the ride and surprised to see my 2nd uncle in the car as well. the only thing i needed from the supermarket was a bottle of canola oil for the tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet) i'd be making tonight.
having recently devoured all 5 seasons of david simon's the wire in a single week, was there any doubt i would watch last night's premiere of treme, simon's new HBO series about post-katrina new orleans? after seeing the first episode, i don't exactly know where the show is going yet, but that's part of the fun. it's weird seeing wire regulars bunk playing the trombone and lester freamon dressed as a mardi gras indian.
tonight's big undertaking was making tonkatsu. i picked up two unwanted packages of boned pork chops from the cafe earlier. originally i toyed with the idea of slow cooking the meat, but felt it was too good a quality for the slow cooker. i've fried foods in the past, but with only moderate success at best. besides stinking up the house for days, i often burn whatever it is i'm cooking, and the cleanup is a real hassle. from my experience popping popcorn over the stovetop i've learned that the choice of pot is important. in the past i've used a tall stock pot because i was afraid of the oil splatters. i realized this is a bad choice because the walls are too thin which causes to food to burn. i'm now using a medium-sized pot, one that has thicker walls. another thing i learned is proper ventilation, to diminish the leftover oil smell. i opened the kitchen window and the door and had a fan blowing the whole time. i'm also using canola oil; in the past i've just used vegetable oil. i don't know if it makes that much of a difference, i think they both taste the same (maybe there's a boiling point thing).
i still think frying is kind of scary, cooking food with scalding hot oil, but there's also something very easy about it, and like barbecuing, it feels like a very manly way of cooking. i cooked with medium heat, and periodically checked with a thermometer to see if the canola oil was at 360° yet. another test was when i dipped my wooden chopsticks into the oil it began to bubble. earlier i'd already prepared the cutlets. i trimmed off the fat and removed the bones. i then scored the meat (to prevent curling) and tenderized them with a mallet. i sprinkled salt and ground pepper on each side before coating the pork first with flour, followed by a layer of egg, then finally covered with panko flakes. i had about 3 large cutlets and 3 small cutlets. there was enough oil initially to completely cover each piece, but by the time i got to the end, the oil was barely covering the pork.
the initial cutlets were lighter compared to the later ones, which has a darker color. the tonkatsu turned out really well, so now i'm tempted to make some genuine fried chicken as my next cooking project (compared to my usual method which is just baking).
i had the tonkatsu with some rice and pickled radish slices. just as important is the tonkatsu sauce, which i had a bottle in the fridge. i could've had the complete japanese dinner experience had i remembered to make some miso soup as well. for dessert i had a bowl of mango ice cream. later i poured the cooled oil into a used plastic bottle (with the help of a funnel), making sure not to get any of the debris at the bottom of the pot. the oil is clean enough that i can probably use it again (fried chicken! i also still have some leftover unused canola).