This Taiwanese crispy pork chop is one of the most popular main dishes you can find in bento restaurants in Taiwan. The pork chop itself is flavorful, tender and juicy, and the best part is that it's all covered with a crispy and crunchy shell that makes it really irresistible. If you have tried Taiwanese popcorn chicken, this is like a pork chop version of that.
Unlike many people in the US who pack their lunch for work, Taiwanese people usually just go grab a lunch from a bento restaurant during lunch hour. At the bento restaurant, you can typically pick a main dish of your choice along with 3 other side dishes, and the total cost comes out to just around $2-3 USD. The side dishes usually aren't great, but the main dishes are always something worth looking forward to. And among all the choices, crispy pork chop is probably my favorite.
Each restaurant does their pork chop differently, and in this recipe I will show you how to make restaurant level crispy pork chop at home easily with my special tips.
Tenderize the meat
We want our pork chop to be juicy and tender so that it's easy to chew. So, the first step we need to take is to break down the tough muscles and tissues. This will be a lot easier if you have a meat tenderizer, but the back of knife will do the job as well. I also like to make a few cuts with a pair of scissors on the tough outer membrane, as this will prevent the meat from shrinking after cooking.
Marinating will not only give you a flavorful pork chop, it will also help improve the texture and result in a juicier pork chop. You will need to marinate for at least 6 hours and preferably even overnight in order to achieve the results that we are looking for.
The coating is what makes this pork chop crisp and crunchy. In Taiwan we usually use a kind of coarse tapioca (or sweet potato) starch for this recipe, which is also what we use for making the ever-popular Taiwanese popcorn chicken. You can usually find this kind of tapioca starch at your local Asia grocery store (the one in the picture below is what I used). The coarse starch makes the pork chop extra crunchy; however, you can replaced it with regular tapioca starch if the coarse kind is not available to you. I wouldn't replace it with corn starch, as that cannot provide the crispiness that we're looking for in this recipe.
The trick to preventing the coating from sliding right off is to let the starch absorb the moisture from the pork chop first before cooking. This way, the starch will attach onto the meat tightly and be much less likely to fall off.
This pork chop is usually done with deep frying in the restaurant, but I prefer to pan fried it at home instead so that I won't need to worry about how to deal with a big pot of oil afterward. The egg in the marinade combines with the tapioca starch coating to become something very crunchy and delicious after pan-frying. If you want to achieve an extra crispy texture, you can pan-fry the pork chop a second time for a few minutes after it's done frying the first time. For the second round, simply pan-fry for around 30 seconds on each side. I usually pan-fry all the pork chops first before starting to pan fry each piece again after the last piece finishes the first round of frying.
One downside of pan frying is that the crisp and crunchy texture won't last as long as if the pork chops were deep fried. So I would recommend eating these right away after it's cooked.
This Taiwanese crispy pork chop is definitely one of my favorite ways to eat a pork chop. They're flavorful, tender, juicy, and all wrapped up in a satisfyingly crunchy layer. I like to simply sprinkle some salt and white pepper powder on top of the pork chop and enjoy it with rice. I'm sure you'll love these if you give can give this recipe a try!
Taiwanese Pan-fried Crispy Pork Chops (Taiwanese Tonkatsu)
- Meat tenderizer
- Cooling rack
- 4 piece ⅔ inch thick pork chop , both bone in or boneless will work
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 5 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp white pepper powder
- ¼ tsp five spice or thirteen spice powder, optional
- ⅛ tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp rice cooking wine or Shaoxing wine , optional
- ½ tbsp sesame oil , or other vegetable oil
- 1 egg , beaten
- ¾ cup coarse tapioca /sweet potato starch
- high smoke point vegetable oil
- white pepper powder
- Place a piece of pork chop in a Ziploc bag, pound both sides of the meat with a meat tenderizer from outside the bag until the pork chop becomes about double in size. If you don't have a meat tenderizer, use the back of a knife to "chop" all over the meat. Repeat the same for the rest of the pork chops.
- Use a pair of scissors to make 2~3 cuts on the thick outer membrane on the edge of the pork chops (see the picture in the post) to prevent the meat from shrinking after cooking.
- Place the pork chops in a container or gallon ziploc bag, add all the ingredients for the marinade and mix well. Make sure all sides of the pork chop are covered with the mixture.
- Cover and store it in the fridge for 6 hours to overnight.
- Put the tapioca / sweet potato starch on a plate and coat each piece of pork chop with it.
- Press both sides of the pork chop into the starch to help them stick better. Set aside for about 10 minutes until the starch looks wet. (Refer to the picture in the post)
Cooking (see note)
- Fill a frying pan ½" (1 cm) deep with vegetable oil and turn the heat to medium. Drop a pinch of starch into the oil. When the starch is bubbling and floats to the surface, then the oil is hot enough for cooking the pork chop.
- Place one piece (or two if your pan can fit them) of pork chop in the pan carefully, cook until the bottom side is golden brown (about 3-5 minutes), and then flip to the other side and continue to cook until both sides became golden brown and become very crispy (around 2-3 minutes). Adjust the heat and add more oil if needed while you are cooking.
- Place the cooked pork chop on a cooling rack, pat it with paper towel to absorb the excess oil and continue to cook the rest of the pork chops.
- Sprinkle some white pepper powder and salt and serve right away.