15 September 2014

Pork Tonkatsu with Watermelon-Tomato Salad

There is some sort of unwritten rule that watermelon is best eaten in the heart of summer, when it is blazing hot outdoors and the cool watery fruit with just a bare hint of sweetness serves as a refreshing treat. Our summer in New York barely reached the 90's, staying cool throughout the season, enough for me to sleep with the windows open most nights, as a light breeze from Prospect Park wafted through our apartment along with the echoes of the bandshell across the street.

Celebrate Brooklyn ended in earl August and still it was never hot enough for watermelon. I then came upon this recipe which uses watermelon as a salad/condiment, joining it with its ruby sister the tomato, as a combined tart topping for a crispy cutlet of pork. 

Pork Tonkatsu, from what I can tell, is fairly identical to Pork Schnitzel. I love a good schnitzel. So much that I've recently been following the movement of Schnitzel and Things, a dedicated schnitzel food truck, here in New York. Honestly, what's better than a freshly fried, newly breaded cutlet of meat? I'll tell you what, one with a pile of salad on top of it to make you feel better about eating fried meat. That's what.    
Pork Tonkatsu with Watermelon-Tomato Salad
Adapted from Epicurious
Serves 4

2 cups watermelon cut in 1/4-inch cubes
2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 cups baby arugula
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice plus 4 lemon wedges
1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
2 large eggs
2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
4 4-ounce boneless center-cut pork chops, pounded to 1/8' thickness
Vegetable oil

Combine watermelon, tomatoes, and arugula in a large bowl. Whisk olive oil, 1 tablespoon mustard, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Set salad and dressing aside.

Pork Tonkatsu: 
Whisk eggs and 1 tablespoon mustard in a medium bowl. Combine panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper on a large plate. Season pork lightly with salt and pepper. Dip in egg mixture, then in panko, pressing to adhere.

Working in 2 batches, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and cook pork until golden brown and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side, adding 1 tablespoon vegetable oil after turning. Drain on paper towels.

Toss salad with dressing; season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve pork with salad piled on top and extra lemon wedges.

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