This dish is a Japanese-Italian hybrid of two great ideas.
2 rib pork chops (each about 3/4 inch thick and about 10 ounces)
1/4 cup rice-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
a few drops of Japanese sesame oil
1 quart peanut oil or vegetable oil
flour for dredging
1 jumbo egg, beaten
2 cups panko crumbs*
for the watercress salad
2 loosely packed cups watercress leaves
1/2 cup minced tomato
1 tablespoon finely minced scallion
1/4 cup mung bean sprouts
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon rice-wine vinegar
a few drops Japanese sesame oil
coarse salt to taste
1. Butterfly the chops: Lay them flat on a cutting board and, holding your knife parallel to the board, cut through the meat along the side of each chop until you reach the bone. This cut should evenly divide the meat of each chop into 2 equal flaps, which remain attached to the bone. Spread each chop out in the shape of a Butterfly.
2. Place the chops between sheets of wax paper, and pound each flap with a mallet or a heavy cleaver. Pound until each flap is an even 1/4 inch thick.
3. Mix together the 1/4 cup rice-wine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and a few drops of Japanese sesame oil. Place the pounded pork chops in a wide, shallow dish, and pour the marinade over them. Marinate in the refrigerator, turning occasionally, for 2 hours.
4. When ready to cook, heat the peanut oil in a wok, deep-fryer, or deep, wide pot to 365 degrees.
5. While the oil is heating, remove pork chops from the marinade and shake off liquid. Dredge chops in flour, making sure to cover all spots of the meat and bone. Then dip the chops in the beaten egg, and let the excess egg drip off. Finally, dip the chops in the panko crumbs, making sure to cover the entire meat and bone.
6. When the oil is hot, add the pork chops (if your frying vessel is not large enough, you should do this in 2 batches). Deep-fry until chops are golden brown on the outside, just cooked through on the inside, 3 to 4 minutes altogether. Remove and drain on paper towels.
7. While the pork chops are cooking, make the watercress salad: Toss together the watercress, tomato, scallion, bean sprouts, rice-wine vinegar, and sesame oil. (Make sure the salad has a light taste of the sesame oil; if not, add a little more.) Season with salt.
8. Place each chop on a large dinner plate, and season with coarse salt. Strew each chop with the watercress salad, and serve immediately.
This dish is a Japanese-Italian hybrid of two great ideas. In traditional Japanese cuisine, tonkatsu are deep-fried boneless pork cutlets served with a sweet brown sauce; we love the cutlets, but are less than enamored of the sauce. A new Italian classic of the eighties -- in America's Italian restaurants, anyway -- is a butterflied rib veal chop that's deep-fried and served with an arugula salad on top; we love the concept, but always end up dreaming of what that veal chop would taste like on a grill. Put the recipes together, tweak 'em -- and you've got a butterflied, deep-fried rib pork chop, marinated First in rice-wine vinegar, with a refreshing watercress-and-bean sprout salad on top. The quick deep-frying works wonderfully well with pork chops, giving them a juiciness they don't normally have. Serve this dish to hungry diners only; each portion is very large. Serves 2