I love these crunchy, sesame-coated pork chops, and placing them the on top of a fresh spinach salad turns them into a complete meal.
I sometimes make an extra chop just to have for lunch the next day. Heaven!
If you can find thin cutlets in the market, snap them up. They cook so quickly that you can easily make this whole meal in about a half an hour.
But alas, sometimes the best-laid plans go awry, as they did on the day I decided to make these. My usual thin cutlets weren’t available, so I bought boneless chops. The butcher volunteered to butterfly the chops and pound them flat for me, but I decided to do it myself to see how long it would take.
And the answer is...not as long as I thought. It adds about 10 minutes to the overall prep time. Check out the instructions and photos in the recipe below to see how easy it is if you find yourself in this same predicament.
Still, if time is of the essence, as it so often is in the middle of the week, look for thin cutlets, or ask the butcher at the meat counter to cut you some from a boneless pork loin.
I would much rather you spend your time making the crispy shallots, which I think are essential for this dish. They are a Vietnamese staple and add a pop of flavor and crunch when sprinkled on these pork chops or whatever else you fancy – not unlike bacon bits!
Sesame-Crusted Pork Cutlets with Crispy Shallots
- For the dressing:
- 6 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons red miso paste
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- For the crispy shallots:
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 4 shallots
- For the pork:
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 boneless pork chops, or 8 thin boneless cutlets (about 1 1/4 pounds)
- 4 large handfuls (6 ounces) baby spinach leaves
Make the dressing
In a blender, blend the water, vinegar, miso, soy sauce, honey, ginger, garlic, olive oil and sesame oil until smooth and creamy. Set aside until you are ready to plate the cutlets.
Make the crispy shallots
Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, slice the shallots into very thin rings. Separate the rings with your fingers and press them between paper towels to extract as much moisture as you can before frying.
In a small (8-inch) skillet combine the oil and shallots. Place over medium heat and cook, watching carefully. The shallots will begin to bubble as they cook. Stir often, turning down the heat as necessary to keep the shallots from burning. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes, or until golden brown and most of the bubbling has stopped.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots to paper towels to drain. Strain the oil through a fine meshed sieve to catch any small bits of shallot and set aside to for cooking the cutlets. (Any leftover oil from this recipe can be saved for other recipes.)
Butterfly and pound the pork chops (if necessary, skip if using cutlets)
If using thick boneless pork chops instead of packaged thin cutlets, butterfly and pound the chops flat (or ask the butcher to do it for you).
To butterfly, make a deep, horizontal cut in each pork chop, stopping about 1/4 inch from the edge. Open the chop like a book.
To pound, place each butterflied chop between 2 sheets of plastic wrap, and pound with a meat mallet or rolling pin to a thickness of 1/4-inch. Set on a baking sheet.
Set up an assembly line for coating the cutlets
Crack the eggs into a pie pan or shallow bowl, and whisk vigorously. In a second pie pan or bowl, combine the panko, sesame seeds, salt, and pepper. From right to left on the counter, set the baking sheet of cutlets, bowl of beaten egg, and bowl of panko mixture in a line.
Coat the cutlets
With tongs, dip one cutlet into the beaten eggs and lift it up so the excess falls back into the bowl. Transfer it to the bowl of panko and coat both sides. Return it to the baking sheet. Continue with the remaining cutlets until they are all coated.
Cook the cutlets in batches:
Over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet, heat about 1/4 inch of the reserved vegetable oil until hot. Place a clean sheet pan in the oven and heat the oven to 250oF.
Add 2 or more cutlets to the pan in a single layer (leave room between them so they are not crowded.) Cook for 4 minutes, or until golden on the underside. Turn and cook on the other side for 4 minutes, or until golden.
Transfer to the oven to keep warm while you finish cooking all the cutlets and dress the spinach.
Assemble the cutlets and spinach
Toss the spinach with a tablespoon or two of dressing, to taste. Divide between plates.
Cut the chops in half if they are large, and set one on top of each plate of the spinach. Sprinkle with the crispy shallots and drizzle a little of the leftover dressing on each plate. (Any remaining dressing can be kept refrigerated for a week or so.)