Mr. Cook Katsudon
Katsudon (in Japanese: カツ丼) is a popular Japanese meal. It’s a beautiful name for a bowl of rice topped with a deep-fried pork cutlet, egg, vegetables, and condiments. The dish takes its name from the Japanese words tonkatsu (pork cutlet) and donburi (rice bowl dish). Back on Guam, there was a tiny Japanese place with just nine seats at the bar, and it was fabulously called OK U Mr. Cook. The owner would always make a special bowl of katsudon for little Aubry without the bean sprouts. This is our rendition of the classic Japanese dish that would make little Aubry’s heart soar— and still does.
1 PATTY-SIZE CHICKEN CUTLET OR PORK CHOP OR TOFU
VEGETABLE OIL, FOR FRYING
For the Tonkatsu
½ CUP [70 G] ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
½ TSP SALT
¾ CUP [180 ML] JUST EGG PLANT-BASED EGG REPLACER
½ CUP [30 G] PANKO BREAD CRUMBS
For the Donburi
VEGETABLE OIL, FOR FRYING
½ MEDIUM YELLOW ONION, THINLY SLICED
½ CUP [120 ML] DASHI BROTH
3 TBSP SOY SAUCE
2 TBSP SAKE
1 TBSP MIRIN
½ TBSP SUGAR
ONE 12 OZ [360 ML] BOTTLE JUST EGG PLANT-BASED EGG REPLACER
For the Assembly
1½ CUPS [300 G] COOKED SHORT-GRAIN WHITE RICE, WARM
GREEN ONION, SLICED, FOR GARNISH
TOGARASHI (JAPANESE SEASONING)
Prepare the chicken cutlet/pork chop/tofu and set aside.
Set up a cooling rack or line a plate with paper towels. Add a ¼ in [6 mm] layer of oil to a heavy-bottom skillet and heat to 350°F [180°C].
To make the tonkatsu: In a shallow dish, mix together the flour and salt. Add the vegan egg to a second shallow dish and the panko to a third. Dredge the patty in the flour, then egg, then panko, making sure it’s completely coated. Carefully drop it into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown. Drain on the cooling rack or prepared plate and set aside.
To make the donburi: In a small sauté pan or skillet over medium heat, add a small amount of oil. Once heated, add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the dashi, soy sauce, sake, mirin, and sugar and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low. Slice the tonkatsu patty and add it to the pan. Pour in the vegan egg and let cook until it sets in the middle and around the edges, 3 to 4 minutes. (It will look a little runny, but it’s just the sauce that gives it that appearance.)
To assemble: Put the warm cooked rice into a ramen-style bowl and slide the egg and tonkatsu mixture onto the top, allowing the sauce to pour in with it. Garnish with green onions and togarashi.
This meal serves one; just double everything for two people. You will need two small skillets or sauté pans as well. You can also make the sauce mixture in one separate pot, then split it into two pans if that makes it easier.
This recipe uses dashi broth, which is super easy to make and can be used in lots of recipes. To make it, you’ll need a package of dried kombu seaweed, available online or at any Asian market. Boil the kombu in water for 30 minutes. Strain the kombu from the broth and discard in the compost. The broth will smell fishy (because, duh, it’s seaweed), so don’t fret. You can store leftover broth for up to 1 week to make tempura sauce, miso soup, or more ramen.
Reprinted from The Herbivorous Butcher Cookbook: 75+ Recipes for Plant-Based Meats and All the Dishes You Can make with Them by Aubry and Kale Walch, with Sandra Soria and Danny Seo, with permission from Chronicle Books, 2022. Photographs © Rikki Snyder.