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An Oriental Dish Foreigners Like: Katsudon

 

I actually learned to eat and make katsudon in Japan, but I have learned it is also served here in Korea. China, Japan, and Korea have had a lot of influence on one another through out the centuries. If you eat a dish in one of these countries, there is a good possibility it came from one of the others, and there is also a good possibility the Japanese changed it to make it better. Katsudon, though, is originally a Japanese dish, but Koreans eat it too, but slightly different. I learned to make katsudon many years ago from a Japanese when I was in Japan, and through the years, many Japanese have given me their versions and their hints on cooking, and I do several Japanese dishes. This is the first dish I ate in a Japanese restaurant in Japan many years ago when I was a student, and the professor took us to eat it because he said it is a dish all foreigners like, and from my experience, he is right. I made this for my kids while they were growing up, and they loved it!
It is also not expensive to make. There was a lady at church in America who said to me once she didn’t know how I fed my kids on the weekly budget I had for groceries because I had four kids and very little money, and this is one of the ways. I have always made everything from scratch. Katsudon is a pork and rice dish, and both of those are cheap in America. If you don’t like pork, some Japanese substitute chicken for pork and make oyakudon. You follow all the steps I will show you, but use chicken instead of pork. My Japanese son in law prefers oyakudon to katsudon, but we all love both. If you don’t like rice, the Koreans use noodles in this dish instead of rice. Katsu mean fried pork, and udon means big fat long noodles, but the Japanese still use rice. If you follow the steps I am about to give you, you will have a very tasty meal.

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First, gather your ingredients: rice, pork, onion, soy sauce, cooking oil, and a dozen eggs.

Measure three cups of rice into a big pot.  One cup of rice is equal to 225 grams.

Next, wash the rice. As you can see, at the beginning the rice is white and milky, but the more you wash, the clearer the water becomes.

 

 

After you have poured the water out of the rice, measure 6 cups of water for three cups of rice and pour it into the rice.  Again, one cup is 225 grams.

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Set the uncooked rice aside to soak.

To begin with, the ingredients are: rice, cooking oil, soy sauce, eggs, pork, and onion.
The first step is to measure and wash the rice. Rice has starch on it. If the rice is too starchy, it will clump up and stick together too much after it is cooked. I use regular oriental rice because I live in Korea and can easily buy it, but if you are living in America, you will need to check your bags of rice. Don’t use instant rice. After you make your rice like this, if you have been using instant rice, you will never go back to it because this rice is so much better. You can’t usually find the natural rice on American grocery store shelves like you can find in the orient, but look for long grained rice. It is the closest you can find. I like to make more rice than we will eat with a meal because I will use the left over rice in another dish later. (If I make Japanese style fried rice, I need my rice already cooked. If I make Korean gimbab, I also need my rice already cooked, so it is expedient for me to make extra for later, but you make the amount you want.) I measure out three cups of rice, but if you are only going to use the rice for this meal, measure out 1 1/2 cups rice. Put the rice in the pan and take it to the sink. Run the water over the rice swishing your hand around in the water, then pouring the water out, then running more water over the rice and swishing your hand around again and again and pouring it out again and again. At the beginning, you will notice that the water over the rice is white and milky looking, but if you do it enough, the water you pour out of the rice begins to look clear. That is when it is time to stop washing it. Next, if you are using three ups of rice, put in six cups of water. If you are using 1 1/2 cups of rice, put in three cups of water. After you wash the rice and put the final water over the rice, put the rice aside. Don’t cook it yet. It still needs to soak a little.

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Cut the onion in thin slices, but don’t use the whole onion.
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Separate the onions, put them in a bowl, and add 
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Put water in the bowl with the onions and ice.
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Put the bowl of onions and ice water aside to soak.

The next thing you will want to do is peel the onion, then cut some of the onion off in very thin slices. How much onion you use is actually up to you. My family doesn’t like a lot of onion, but onion is necessary for vitamins and taste, so don’t leave the onion out. If you are a big onion eater, you still don’t want to cut the whole onion up and use it because it will overwhelm your dish. Be moderate with how much onion you use. After you have cut some thin slices of onion, put the slices apart into rings and put them into a bowl. Add ice and water to the onion rings in the bowl and put it aside for a little while. Soaking the onions in ice water takes the acidity out of the onions so they won’t hurt your stomach.


The next step is to cut your meat up. I use about a half a package of pork. You really don’t need a whole package because you will have a lot of protein once you add the eggs and can use the rest of the meat for another meal. I usually use the other half of the package of pork if I make Romanian ciorba or Japanese fried rice, and you will eventually see blogs from me about those too . The meat should be cut into bite sized pieces.

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Use a very small fire.
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Put the pot of rice on the small fire to cook with the lid on it.

Next, it is time to put the rice on to cook. If you have a rice cooker, use it. It is a lot easier, but we broke ours, so I use a big pot. I put the pot with the rice and water in it on a small fire on the stove and put the lid on. I don’t plan on stirring it at all until it is finished. However, if you are unaccustomed to making rice and don’t know if you have the fire down far enough, you can stir it occasionally. The nice things about using a rice cooker is that you don’t have to stir it in the rice cooker and the rice cooker automatically goes off when the rice is done. However, if you are cooking it on the top of the stove like I do, you should keep an eye on it. My lid is made of glass, so it is easy for me to glance at it and see how it is cooking while I am working. This will cook until the water is all cooked out and you just see a few places of small bubbles left.

Fry the pork in a frying pan and add soy sauce while it is cooking.

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When the pork is done, take it out of the pan and put it in a separate bowl.

While the rice is cooking, the next step is to put some cooking oil in a frying pan. Fry the pork pieces. Add soy sauce as if you are adding salt. In America, we use salt and pepper in our dishes to give them good flavor, but in Japan, they use soy sauce like we use salt. Stir the pork around in the oil and soy sauce as it is cooking until it is brown on all sides and you are sure it is cooked all the way through. It won’t take long. When it is done, take it out of the pan and put it in a separate bowl.

Fry the onions in the same pan adding soy sauce.

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When the onions are soft, take them out of the pan and put them in the bowl with the pork.

Next, take the ice out of the onions and pour the water off them. Turn a small fire on under the same frying pan you used for the pork and put a little more oil in the pan. Put the onions in the pan and add a little soy sauce for taste again. Stir them around as you are frying them so they won’t burn. When they are soft, turn the fire off, pull the onions out, and put them in the bowl with the pork.

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Crack a dozen eggs into a big bowl.
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Stir the eggs with a wire whip and add soy sauce.

Next, crack your dozen eggs and put them in a big bowl. Mix them around. I use a wire whip. Add some soy sauce to your eggs. If you add too much, your eggs will be just too brown and taste too salty, but you need to add a little. If you don’t add enough, your eggs will still be yellow and they will be bland.

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Dump the pork and onions into the eggs, the stir them around.

After you have stirred the eggs and added soy sauce to them, dump the pork and onions in the eggs. Stir it around.

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Don’t forget to keep an eye on your rice.  This rice is full of bubbles, so it is still cooking.
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Put some cooking oil in the frying pan and dump the egg mixture in it.

Slowly cook the eggs, pork, onions, and soy sauce like you are cooking scrambled eggs.

Put a small fire under the frying pan you used to cook the pork and onion. Put a little cooking oil in it. Dump the egg, soy sauce, pork, and onion mixture in the pan. Get a spatula and stir them around as your are cooking as if you are making scrambled eggs. Slowly, the eggs will harden. When they eggs are cooked, turn it off, and look at the rice.
The rice is probably done at this point, so turn it off too. You will know the rice is done if all the water has cooked out and you can only see a couple of small bubbles coming up through the rice. Put the lid back on the rice one the fire is turned off. Let it sit and steam a few minutes to be the best it can be.

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The rice is cooked, but not quite finished.
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Put the lid back on the pot and let it steam a little.
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There is a special spoon used for serving rice.
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In each dish, first put rice, and then put the egg, pork, onion, and soy sauce topping over the rice.

Your katsudon is finished. It is time to serve it. The Japanese and Koreans eat this in a bowl, but my family likes to use plates. You put the rice in the dish first, and then you cover it with the egg, onion, pork, and soy sauce mixture. Yum! Enjoy yourself!! My Korean son in law and my daughter came in after I finished, and my Korean son in law got all excited by the smell in the kitchen. He couldn’t wait to eat!

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