This dish is a decorative version of tonkatsu, deep-fried pork cutlet. Tonkatsu (ton=pig, and katsu=cutlet) is a poplular dish that came to Japan through the Dutch influence in the late nineteenth century. Tonkatsu is so popular in Japan that there are even restaurants that serve only tonkatsu and similar items such as kushikatsu (bite-sized fried bits of pork and other things on a skewer).
This picture does not look elegant, but the meal was excellent! Mr. Tess came home later than usual and I was waiting to cook until he got home. I was beginning to worry, when he came in with an knee brace, saying the crutches were in the truck and no, he did not need them. He’d injured his knee! He got “comfortable” with his leg propped up. It was my turn to be the nurse (two years ago he took fabulous care of me when I broke my ankle)—but he kept getting up to put beer in the freezer, to get ice for his knee… Anyway, I brought him a glass of water, and pulled out a little table to put it on. He was trying not to limp as he left for work this morning…
Fried tofu cubes served with dipping sauce is classic Japanese food, eaten at home, in restaurants, or in bars. It can be a snack, a part of a meal, or an appetizer. Imagine: crisp on the outside, smooth inside. Below is the recipe with a basic sauce, but this time I made it with a different sauce: garlic pickled in kombu and shoyu.
This dish is part of the Wafu Steak recipe. Very yummy!
This recipe is surprisingly simple and good. But, this recipe was also daunting. I am afraid of deep-frying. As a newly-wed, I made something that was deep-fried. Because I did not have many pots back then, and needed to use that pot for another part of the meal, I pulled out a bowl to hold the hot oil. I also did not have many bowls then; the bowls I had were all made of glass: pyrex. Heat tested pyrex.
According to Ms. Shimbo, “namban” means “southern barbarian.” This word was applied to the Portuguese and Spanish, the first Westerners who came to Japan in the 16th century. Until that time, the Japanese traded mosty with Koreans and Chinese. “Namban” reflects the shock that the Japanese felt upon encountering Europeans with their large noses and eyes, hairy bodies, and height. Among the new foods and cooking techniques were squash, potatoes, corn, watermelons, chile peppers, figs, sugary sweets, and deep-frying.