Der Perfekte Schnitzel

Schnitzel is something that many cultures have, claim to have invented, and love to eat. Really, it is impossible for a meat eater like me not to like. My first favorite Boneless Breaded Pork Chop came from one my beloved greasy spoons near my university, BRB. If you know where BRB is, then you know where I went to university in the Philippines. It is what I exclusively ordered when I ate there, with rice, a small side of coleslaw, and sweet and sour sauce.

Then I met Pork Tonkatsu. We met at a small Japanese restaurant at the side of the A building of SM Megamall, which I am pretty sure doesn’t exist anymore. I loved eating Tonkatsu-Don, which is chopped up porkchop in a rice bowl, if I was not in the mood for Tempura.

Then of course, I landed in Germany, the land of ze Schnitzel. Please don’t say that to Austrians, as they would get very upset. Yes, ze Germans eat Schnitzel with noodles, but mostly with potato or potato dumplings, a side of boiled cauliflower or broccoli, in a butter-breadcrumb sauce, and a lemon wedge that is squeezed over the Schnitzel.

schnitzel1German Schnitzel is made of pork slices, while the Wiener (Viennese) Schnitzel is calf. Yes, baby cows that go moo. It took me a few years to get Schnitzel right, I really had the hardest time with it! The first few years I started cooking Schnitzel, it really looked awful because they were almost charcoal. Pan frying them made the crust brown and the meat raw! Until a Schnitzel that I ate while on vacation in Heigenbrücken changed my life. It was really the most perfect Schnitzel I’ve had in my life, and the lady who owned the place was generous enough to tell me her secret: Schnitzels are deep-fried.

DUH!!!

It really was the simplest thing on earth, really, and I smacked myself in the head for not thinking that. I immediately experimented once I got home, and I’ve been churning out great Schnitzels since then. As you see in the picture above, Schnitzel is just basically pork slabs, eggs, and breadcrumbs.

Firstly, choose the meat wisely. Pork well-marbled with fat is the best bet for Schnitzel. Not too fatty! Just marbled. Then heat a scary amount of oil into a shallow pan or skillet. The Schnitzel must “float,” as the lady said. A cup of oil (about 200 ml) in medium-high heat in a small pan is enough. Germans have different techniques in tenderizing the meat. Some use their fists, other a meat tenderizer mallet. I use the blunt edge of a knife and “chop” the meat sidewards and lengthwise. Then season it with salt and pepper (preferably cracked), dip it in egg, roll in the breadcrumbs, and straight into the pan. Wait for one side to becoome brown, turn once, and that is it!

It really is the simplest things that are the hardest to master, and it took me three to four years of burned Schnitzel before I was able to consistently make the perfect Schnitzel

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