Tonkatsu (Breaded, Fried Pork Chops)

My all time favorite dish!

Call it whatever you want, schnitzel, milanesa, katsu…I always go with what I called it growing up-TONKATSU. And it has to be pork chops! Chicken is only acceptable to me when I have no other choice. 😊

Served with very thinly sliced cabbage, freshly cooked white, sticky rice, and of course the essential Bulldog sauce (no, it is NOT made with bulldogs!), I am a happy camper! I can really eat this everyday and I won’t get tired if it!

My mom, being Japanese, used to make this when we were little. It is definitely a comfort food for me and my family. My son actually loves this as much as do so even if I try to avoid serving fried dishes, I do oblige and make this once in a while. I always top the cabbage with Kewpie mayo too!

Of course, this is also the perfect “milanesa” to top my Peruvian Tallarin Verde. But more about that in my later article!

You’ll need pork chops. As much as you like!

I marinate them in lemon juice and fish sauce if I have time. Equal parts of lemon juice and fish sauce will make your pork chops taste really good, not fishy at all! Leave them in your refrigerator, covered, for a few hours, ideally overnight.

If you’re pressed for time, just salt and pepper them. It’ll taste good too!

You’ll also need flour. I start with about a cup of flour in a plate, and mix in a pinch or two of salt and pepper. This will be your first coating on the pork chops.

Next, you’ll need an egg or two mixed with 1-2 tablespoons of water. Beat that well in another plate. This is your second coating.

Panko. Japanese bread crumbs. This will turn your pork chops into Tonkatsu.

Grab a bag, open, and pour some into a clean plate. A third plate. One for the flour mixture, one for the egg mixture, and one for the panko. Yup, this is your final coating before frying. 😋

Step 1: place a pork chop into the flour mixture, lightly press down on it to coat with flour,

Step 2: Turn over and coat the other side well.

Step 3: transfer to the egg mixture, coat well.

Step 4: turn pork over to coat the other side too.

Step 5: move on to the panko, coating one side thoroughly,

Step 6: turn over and press pork onto the panko to coat the other side. Repeat with remaining pork chops.

Step 7: heat a good amount of canola oil in a fry pan over medium heat.

Step 8: When hot, slide a couple of pork chops in. Let cook for about 3-4 minutes.

Step 9: Carefully turn over to cook the other side. I find this is easiest done with a metal kitchen tong.

Step 10: cook the other side until golden snd meat is cooked through.

Step 11: carefully remove tonkatsu onto paper towel lined plate or wire rack.

Step 12: thinly slice a small head of cabbage. Rinse in cool water snd drain thoroughly.

Step 13: arrange tonkatsu, cabbage, and rice on s plate.

Step 14: serve with Bulldog sauce snd Kewpie mayo! Enjoy!!!

Spicy Eggplant

Spicy Eggplant…this is one of my favorite dishes to order when eating out at an Asian restaurant. Of course with COVID-19 I had been cooking almost all of our meals at home for over a year.

Most of the meals I like to eat are easily made at home so I just had to recreate this recipe too as I have been craving spicy, salty, sweet foods lately. Must be because we are in this pandemic longer than anyone thought we would. This dish checks all the boxes – spicy, sweet, and salty – truly delicious with plain steamed rice. As a bonus, you get your veggie serving in there too!

You can make this vegetarian by cooking it as it is but my boys like meat and frowns if they cannot find meat in their plate so I did add a couple of handfuls of chopped meat in there. You can also make it spicier buy adding more chili paste. As always, feel free to tailor my recipes to your tastes!

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For the Sauce:
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon plain white vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili paste (sambal oelek)
1/2 teaspoon ground bean sauce (or hoisin sauce)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

To finish cooking:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound eggplant, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water

*I added about 200 grams chopped pork to this recipe when I was taking photos of it for this article. You can leave it out if you want, but it sure makes it taste better!*

1. Prepare the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl and mixing well. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in a wok to 350 degrees F.

3. Add the diced eggplant and cook, stirring once, for about one minute. Remove the eggplant with a slotted spoon and set on paper toweling to drain.

4. Remove all but about a teaspoon of oil from the wok. Turn the heat to high and add the garlic.

5. Add the chopped pork and let it brown for a few minutes.

6. Carefully pour in the sauce.

7. Let the sauce come to a simmer for 30 seconds.

8. Add the eggplant back to the wok and cook for 10-15 seconds while stirring.

9. Combine the cornstarch,

10. and water to make a smooth paste.

11. Stir it into the eggplant mixture.

12. Keep stirring until it thickens.

13. Let it come to a boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

14. Serve hot with lots of steamed white rice.

15. Enjoy!

Trader Joe’s Thai Style Yellow Curry Sauce

I love the convenience of bottled simmer sauces that are becoming available at the grocery stores. They are truly life savers for when you come home late from work and need something on the dinner table real quick. The trick is finding out which ones you like, which means trying out a few brands.

I’ve always been lucky with almost anything I get at Trader Joe’s. They’re reasonably priced and always delicious, but sometimes you get hooked but you can never get it again. I had some favorite cheeses and sauces that was not available anymore when I came back for more. Sad.

So if I see something I want to try, I usually buy a couple to start with. They do have expiration dates so I cannot really get a dozen or so as we will get tired of it if I cook it too often. 😊

So…this is my most recent find!

I’ll cook this with some cut up chicken, garlic, onions, carrots, potatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, and a couple of bell peppers from the garden.

You can definitely eyeball the amounts and adjust anything to your taste.

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Begin by preparing all of your ingredients. I used the following:

1-2 tablespoons oil

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 onion, peeled and diced

1 pound of chicken breast, cubed

1 big potato, peeled and diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 zucchini, trimmed and cut into half moons

A handful of mushrooms, chopped

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 bottle of Trader Joe’s Yellow Curry Sauce

Water

Freshly cooked rice and chopped cilantro, for serving

1. Heat oil in a saucepan. Sauté garlic and onions until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned. Next add the potatoes and carrots. Stir and cook for a few minutes.

3. Add the zucchini, mushrooms, and bell pepper.

4. Pour the curry sauce over. Fill the bottle halfway with water, cover and shake to get every last bit of the delicious sauce, open the bottle then pour contents into the pan.

5. Stir the mixture and cover with a lid. Lower heat to medium low and simmer until chicken and vegetables are done, around 10-20 minutes.

6. Serve over freshly cooked, hot rice. Top with chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

Moo Goo Gai Pan

Here is a quick and easy version of a staple Chinese restaurant take out!

Once in a while I’d crave Chinese food really bad. Most good restaurants are not close to where I live so it’ll be about a 20-30 mile drive to get to one and I’m too lazy to drive out to hunt them down. So I made this using an older cookbook I saw at the library a while back.

The cooking process takes no time at all so make sure to prep everything in the beginning (chop, dice, mince…)and have it all ready to go.

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Ingredients:

1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons Chinese shao xing wine

2 teaspoon cornstarch

1/3 cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons oil

2 teaspoon garlic

2 teaspoon minced ginger

6 oz snow peas

8 oz mushrooms, sliced

Salt and pepper

Green onions, to serve

Procedure:

1. Prepare all ingredients and set close by.

2. In a medium sized bowl, mix together chicken, soy sauce shao xing wine, cornstarch, chicken stock, oyster sauce, and sugar.

3. In a wok, heat up oil. Sauté garlic and ginger until fragrant.

4. Drain chicken, keeping the marinade, and add the chicken to the wok. Stir fry until cooked through, about 5 – 10 minutes.

5. Add the snow peas, and stir fry for a minute.

6. Add the mushrooms and stir fry for another minute.

7. Add in the reserved marinade and boil for 3-4 minutes. Make sure you boil it.

8. Serve hot with freshly cooked white rice.

9. Enjoy!

Electric Lunchbox #91: Taco Soup

Taco Soup!

Perfect for the cold weather we are having right now…not that it compares to the snow storms experienced in Texas and other states. But still, everyone needs a good recipe for a delicious warm soup, right?

This is another Brentwood recipe, one that we tasted at a potluck more than once and got the recipe to make it ourselves at home whenever we craved it. It’s got everything to make it hearty and filling yet it’s not too heavy. A perfect balance of flavor and healthy ingredients.

I like my taco soup with all the fixings…sour cream, cheese, green onions, chopped onions, tortilla chips…but it’s also delicious as is.

Hope you try this ELB version, stay warm and safe my friends!

*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny ELB cup, unless specified.*

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Ingredients:

1/4 cup canned Pinto beans, drained

1/4 cup canned kidney beans, drained

1/4 cup canned corn, drained

1 cup canned diced tomatoes, with liquid

1 tablespoon canned green chili

1 tablespoon taco mix powder

1 tablespoon ranch mix powder

4 oz can chicken meat, drained

1 cup water

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 ELB cups water for the base

*Sour cream, grated cheese, chopped green onions, tortilla chips, to serve

Procedure:

1. In the big ELB bowl, place pinto beans,

2. Kidney beans,

3. Corn,

4. Tomatoes,

5. Green chili,

6. Taco powder

7. Ranch powder,

8. Water,

9. Chicken,

10. Water,

11. Cornstarch,

12. Mix everything together. Place in the ELB base. Add 2 ELB cups of water to the base. Cover and let steam until it shuts off, about 40 minutes.

13. Carefully open the ELB, and stir the soup. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.

14. Serve hot with all the fixings! Enjoy!

Electric Lunchbox #87: Minestrone

It’s been cold this week here in Southern California so when I told my husband that I do not have any ideas on what else to make in the ELB, he said “soup!”

He went on naming different soups he grew up eating in Peru…and I stopped him when i heard Minestrone. I love Minestrone and I haven’t made it in a long time!

When I was a high school student at Herbert Hoover High in Glendale, CA, I chose a cooking/baking as my elective class. Not only as a way to nurture a life skill/hobby, but also to rest my brain between classes. And the basic Minestrone I make all these years always comes back to the recipe I learned in Mrs. Baker’s class.

So here it is! The original recipe I scribbled down when I was 15 years old – sure brings back a lot of memories! I didn’t even have to scale it down for the big ELB bowl as it fits perfectly!

Do not feel like you have to follow the recipe to the letter. Any bean or veggie you want, or have on hand, can be used instead of the ones listed in the recipe but I do encourage you to try the recipe as it is at least once. Then you can make adjustments after you’ve tried the recipe as is.

*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny ELB cup, unless specified.*

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Ingredients:

2 tablespoons onions

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon rice

1 tablespoon small pasta

1 tablespoon canned beans

1/2 cup peeled and diced potatoes

1 tablespoon green peas (used celery as I was out of green peas)

Salt and pepper

A few rosemary leaves

3/4 cup beef broth

2/3 cup water

Procedure:

1. Place the chopped onions in the big ELB bowl.

2. Add the butter,

3. Cornstarch,

4. Tomato paste,

5. Rice,

6. Pasta

7. Beans,

8. Potatoes,

9. Celery or green peas

10. Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper, and the rosemary leaves,

11. Add the beef broth and water. Stir to mix everything together.

12. The butter will be a big blob but it will melt as the soup cooks the pasta and rice. It makes this soup rich and velvety!

13. Place the bowl in the ELB base. Add 3 ELB cups of water to the base, cover and let steam until it shuts off, about an hour.

14. Carefully open the ELB. Stir the soup and check the pasta and rice if it’s cooked through.

15. Serve hot! Enjoy!

Green Beans With Chicken

This an easy to make dish for weekday nights. You can serve it as a side or as the main dish. My boys like meat so this will only be a side dish tonight!

Try to cook the green bean only briefly so that it retains the crunchy texture that is perfect with the sauce. AND a lot of rice! 😊

1 tablespoon oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 onion, diced

1 chicken breast, cut into thin strips about 1 inch

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-2 inch pieces

2 – 3 tablespoons oyster sauce

1 cup water

2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

1. Heat oil in a medium sized saucepan. Add garlic and saute until browned. Add onions and saute 5 minutes more, until soft and lightly browned.

2. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink, about 7 minutes. Sprinkle with ground pepper. Cook until lightly browned.

3. Add green beans, oyster sauce, and water. Stir to combine. Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked but green beans are still crisp but cooked, about 5 minutes.

4. Add cornstarch dissolved in water and cook 5 minutes more, until thickened. Adjust seasoning to taste.

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Electric Lunchbox #85: Bodega Beans

I read an article about Bodega Beans a few weeks ago. Have you heard of it? It sounded quite delicious to me that I was planning to make it even before I was done reading the article.

Apparently it is a recipe for when you want a cheap but healthy meal with readily accessible ingredients. And nowadays, who doesn’t want that? It can be a wonderful side dish, if anything!

According to the article, the most basic “recipe” is to sauté garlic and onions in a little olive oil, add a can of drained beans and any seasoning you like, drizzle with more olive oil and you’re done! A sprinkle of cheese is optional, then serve with rice or bread.

I did make it and it was absolutely delicious! I added a few spices to it but feel free to use any that you like or have!

After making it a few times on the stove, I made it in the ELB for you guys! You can prepare rice in the small nesting bowl and you’re all set for a yummy meal!

*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny ELB cup, unless specified.*

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I like to add crispy bacon to my bodega beans as my son doesn’t like beans but loves bacon…so beans with bacon is acceptable to him. 😊

Just place the bacon strips in a clean skillet, let the oil render out and brown till crisp. Crumble when cool.

Ingredients:

Bacon, browned and drained, optional but highly recommended

1 tablespoon minced onions

2 tablespoons chopped carrots

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Cumin, paprika, sazon todo, as desired

1 tablespoon chopped celery

1 can beans, rinsed and drained (garbanzo, pinto, red bean, black bean, any will do)

2 tablespoons olive oil or 1 tablespoon each bacon grease and olive oil, more as needed

Parmesan cheese, optional

Avocado slices, optional

Chopped cilantro, optional

Chili pepper flakes, optional

Procedure:

1. Place onions in the big ELB bowl.

2. Add some carrots,

3. Salt, pepper, garlic powder and any other seasoning you like. I love adding a couple of shakes of cumin.

4. Chopped celery,

5. The can of drained beans,

6. Crumbled cooked bacon,

7. Mix everything together. Add the olive oil or bacon grease and olive oil mix. Cover the bowl with foil and place in the ELB base.

* you can place 2 ELB cups of rice, rinsed and drained with 2 ELB cups water to the little nesting bowl to round out your meal!*

8. Add 3 ELB cups of water to the base, cover and let steam until it shuts off, about an hour.

9. Carefully open the ELB and mix the contents. Serve hot with rice, bread, cheese, chopped cilantro, and/or avocado if desired. Sprinkle with chili pepper flakes if you want a little spice.

10. Enjoy!