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Table for one / Pan-fry with small amounts of oil

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Shiitake, cheese-rolled beef cutlet

Ageyaki pan-fried dishes

When cooking for one, people tend to shy away from deep-frying because of the large amount of oil that is needed. Cooking expert Keiko Iwasaki, however, suggests pan-frying as an alternate option.

Deep-fried food is popular even among elderly people, who can often be seen buying fried deli foods at supermarkets.

“With ageyaki shallow-frying, you don’t have to use a lot of oil and can still cook something simple. On top of this, the food will be hot and fresh,” Iwasaki said.

Complete a precook of your chosen menu items in the morning and leave them in the fridge. Then pan-fry quickly in the evening to serve for dinner.

Iwasaki uses a smaller-sized frying pan of 18 centimeters diameter, and pours in oil to a depth of about 1 centimeter, or about 180cc. Ingredients should be about 1-centimeter thick so that they are submerged in the oil. The ingredients for beef cutlet and kakiage mixed tempura, as introduced in this column, should be cut to this thickness.

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  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    Curry-flavored fried shrimps

  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    Kakiage mixed tempura with pork, veggies

By cutting ingredients into thin strips or small chunks, you can reduce frying time to just a few minutes.

Iwasaki heats the oil at high heat and tests it using cooking chopsticks. The oil is ready for cooking when small bubbles appear around the sticks. For the actual frying, the temperature should be slightly above low heat or on medium heat. This is because the temperature of the oil tends to rise more easily due to the small amount being used, which can cause the surface of ingredients to burn easily. She recommends turning up the heat right before the food is done to give it a crunchy texture.

Do not flip the food in the oil right away, says Iwasaki, because that will cause the coating to stick to the chopsticks or affect its shape. She advises ladling oil onto parts of the ingredients not yet soaked. The key is to flip the food when it becomes firm to some extent.

The beef cutlets are both appetizing and filling, while the fried shrimps are seasoned with curry powder to complement their taste.

Potatoes and onions go well with pork in the kakiage tempura. Julienne carrots or burdock roots as well as mizuna (potherb mustard) can be used as replacement vegetables.

Used oil is filtered through kitchen paper and poured into a bowl. Iwasaki suggests covering the bowl with wrap and leaving the oil in the fridge, to be used a couple more times in deep-frying or stir-frying.

“For fried chicken, cut the meat into slices. Cut fish such as salmon into bite-sized chunks. A variety of ingredients can be used if they are cut into smaller pieces,” Iwasaki said. “Frying food for a single-person meal won’t take a lot of ingredients nor preparation. I hope many people discover the joys of pan-frying.”

Recipes for shallow-fried dishes

Shiitake, cheese-rolled beef cutlet

Cut 1 shiitake mushroom into thick strips and fold ½ sheet of cheese slice in half. Lay sliced beef (50 grams) lengthwise and season with salt and pepper. Place shiitake on lower part of sliced beef and then cheese and roll up tightly from bottom. Sprinkle wheat flour over rolled beef, dress with milk and then coat with bread crumbs. Make 2 pieces. Pan-fry for 3-4 minutes on both sides and serve on plate. Serve with lettuce as side if desired.

Curry-flavored fried shrimps

Peel and devein 4 shrimps. Wash them and dry off. Toss them with seasonings in order of 2 pinches of curry powder, ½ teaspoon soy sauce, a pinch of salt, ½ teaspoon roasted white sesame. Sprinkle wheat flour over shrimps and pan-fry until they change color. Serve on plate with baby-leaf side salad.

Kakiage mixed tempura with pork, veggies

Cut 1 small potato into thick strips, soak briefly in water and dry off. Cut one-eighth of onion into thin slices and 60-gram sliced pork into 5-millimeter-thick strips. Mix 2 tablespoons milk and 2 tablespoons wheat flour in bowl, add ingredients and further mix. Ladle bite-size portion of mixture and flatten it in the ladle before placing softly in heated oil. Pan-fry for about 1½ minutes on both sides. Spread shiso leaves on plate and top with kakiage.

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