Tempura 天麩羅 or Tonkatsu 豚カツ !?
Where is Tempura from? Most people would answer Japan with out hesitation. They would be wrong! What is Tonkatsu?
In middle of the sixteenth century, the Portuguese landed on Japanese shores. In addition to establishing trade, trying to convert the Japanese to Catholicism, the Portuguese introduced tempura, the technique of dipping fish and vegetables into a batter and frying them. This is one example of Japanese food evolution by incorporating foreign influences.Tempura comes from the Latin word tempora, which refers to Ember Days or quattuor tempora. Ember Days refer to the days when Catholics avoid meat and instead eat fish or vegetables. Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, loved tempura so much that he apparently died after eating too much of it. Could you imagine that—dying from overeating? But of cours it’s not a proven historical fact. Still a funny anecdote.
Personally I love tempura, it’s a considerably light fried food. On of the best places to eat tempura in my opinion, is around the Senso-ji 浅草寺 temple in the Tokyo district of Asakusa. Impressively tempura is one of the only Japanese dish that you can eat anywhere in America that would taste like in Japan. Of course some sushi restaurants maybe but it is still a debatable subject. In Japan a good Tempura meal run around 12 to 25$ more would be too much.
Tonkatsu is another Japanese fried dish, mostly called katsu amongst Japanese. Katsu’ roots are not as old as Tempura but still hold a big place in the Japanese food diet. It was invented in the late 19th century as a Japanese version of European cuisine. Katsu is breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet sliced into bite-sized pieces, generally served with shredded cabbage, rice and miso soup. The meat is usually salted, peppered, dredged lightly in flour, dipped into beaten egg and then coated with panko (breadcrumbs) before being deep fried. Tonkatsu has Japanized over the years, today it is usually served with rice, miso soup and tsukemono in the style of washoku (traditional Japanese food) and eaten with chopsticks. Tonkatsu is also popular as a sandwich filling. These days’ tonkatsu may be made by sandwiching an ingredient like cheese or shiso leaf between the meat, and then breading and frying. Tempura is a light fried dish, but it brother katsu is really heavy in the sumo weigh category. But it is a really desishious dish, now served in a fully traditional Japanese way.
The best Tonkatsu I ever had was in Sapporo as crazy as it sounds. But you can eat and enjoy a good Tonkatsu meal anywhere in Japan for around 15$. Plus normally in most katsu restaurant you can all allyou can eat rice, miso and cabbage.