Not a bad choice. In fact, I’m guessing his menu pick is a popular selection around the world, as it seems every culture has developed some version of fried, breaded meat. Japan is no exception. One of our classic dishes is called katsu (derived from the word ‘cutlet’), and inside the crisp breading, you’ll usually find pork. Lightly seasoned with salt and pepper and breaded in panko before it’s deep fried, Katsu is my husband’s go-to meal when we are in Japan. For him, this is one of very few Japanese dishes that he finds not only tasty, but satisfying. It usually comes with side of sliced cabbage, rice and soup, and all these components are designed to compliment each other. So imagine my father’s surprise when he first saw my husband eat katsu and skip the rice! Unheard of!
Growing up with only pork katsu, chicken or beef versions of the dish are relatively new to me, but as they say, the more the merrier! With or without rice, I love them all.
So how did I make his birthday meal? I brined the pounded chicken breasts in cold chicken stock with garlic, salt, black pepper and chili flakes for a couple of hours. Next, I dipped the chicken in egg and coated it with parsley and Panko (yes, I know it sounds exotic, but the trendy Panko is just the Japanese word for bread crumbs–sorry to burst your bubble) and fried it in canola oil. Instead of rice and cabbage, my side dishes were mashed potatoes, boiled broccoli rabe, and arugula and tomato in lemon and olive oil dressing. Normally, I would’ve put the arugula salad on top of the Chicken Milanese, but after pounding the chicken breast, it acquired the shape of a perfect heart that I didn’t want to hide with vegetables.
Why Chicken Milanese in the first place? Was it a craving for fried food? Maybe, but I’d like to think it has something to do with the fact that he ordered it on our very first date! Happy Birthday indeed!