We have covered much ground with our Japanese Kitchen series, visiting Saitama prefecture last month and introducing an all-Japan favourite - Potato Koroke. This month we are back in the Tohoku region to visit Fukushima Prefecture. During the Edo period the western most part of the prefecture was known as Aizu Domain. Famous for its martial skill and maintaining a large standing army, the legacy of this domain and culture of its people is well preserved in Japan today even though the seat of the Aizu domain was eventually defeated in October 1868.

Sauce Katsu-don
Akira Yamada, Japan Information and Cultural Centre

My family and I moved to the UK earlier this year and we often cook Japanese dishes in our London home. I will share a recipe from my wife for Sauce Katsu-don, so I thought it only fair to introduce her hometown of Aizuwakamatsu (although I am from Fukushima city).

Aizuwakamatsu City is in the western part of Fukushima Prefecture. It retains a strong sense of history as a former castle town of the Aizu domain. The most famous local attraction is Tsuruga-jo, which looks especially stunning in the spring surrounded by cherry blossoms, and in the winter covered in snow.

There are numerous legacies of the samurai age in Aizu Wakamatsu, and the influences of samurai society remain strong today. Although Aizu lost in the Boshin war at the end of the Edo period, the history of its samurai is popular across Japan - particularly that of the Byakkotai (young teenage samurai of the Aizu domain).

Aizu is also famous for traditional crafts and souvenirs such as urushi-nuri (lacquerware) and decorative candles. The traditional dolls, Okiagari-koboshi, are also well-known. They are dolls made from papier-mache and designed so that they always return to an upright position if knocked over.

There are also a lot of Sake breweries in Aizu. In fact, this year's champion of the International Wine Challenge Sake Competition was Homare Sake brewery from Kitakata - the northern part of Aizu Region (although this is not in Aizuwakamatsu city itself).

Tsuruga-jo (Photograph ©JNTO)

Regarding food, there are many traditional recipes of the Aizu domain, such as Kozuyu - a hearty soup containing an array of vegetables and balls of wheat gluten, made from dried scallop stock and seasoned with salt and soy sauce. However, there are also many popular yet affordable "B-kyu" (B-grade) dishes, such as Kitakata Ramen and Sauce Katsu-don. I would like to introduce my wife's recipe so that you can try making Sauce Katsu-don at home yourself, but in Aizu, each restaurant has its own secret recipe for the sauce so I recommend you to visit and try some for yourself!

Sauce Katsu-don recipe
(Serves 2)


<For the Katsu>

・2 Pork fillets
・1 egg (beaten)
・Panko* (or bread crumbs)
・Pointed/sweetheart cabbage
・Short grain rice

* Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb. It is rough-grained compared European style crumbs, dry and has more crunch. It is available in some UK supermarkets. Use usual breadcrumbs as an alternative.

<For the sauce>

Tonkatsu sauce*
Tomato ketcup

*Tonkatsu sauce is a thick type of Worcester sauce. Available in Japanese food stores in the UK.

<For the rice>
This makes more than a two-person serving, but the rice tastes better when a larger quantity is cooked. Keep the leftover rice in a freezer and heat it up in the microwave when you want to eat it.

Sushi rice: 450g
Mineral water: 650ml


Part 1: Steamed rice

1. Place the rice in a large bowl and gently wash with water. When the water becomes cloudy, drain the rice. Repeat several times until the water is almost clear.

2. Drain the rice in a colander and leave it for about 30-60 minutes.

3. Place the rice and mineral water in a pot with a tight lid. Put on a high heat and bring to the boil.

4. When it boils, continue to cook for 12-15 minutes on a low heat (so that the rice doesn't burn) until all the water has evapourated.

5. Turn off the heat and let the rice sit for another 10 minutes.

During this whole cooking process, the lid should stay closed as it makes the rice more delicious!

Part 2: Sauce-Katsu

Preparation: shred the cabbage

1. Prepare three trays (or bowls) and place flour, beaten eggs, and Panko in each.

2. Dip each pork fillet in (1) flour, (2) egg, then (3) Panko.

3. Heat the oil in a deep pan to 180 degrees celsius.

4. Carefully place the pork fillets into the oil and fry them until golden-brown. Turn over and do the same for the other side.

5. Dry the pork fillets on a paper towel and cut into large pieces.

6. In another pan, heat the tonkatsu sauce and tomato ketchup together over a low heat.

7. Dip the pieces of pork fillet in the warm sauce and cover completely.

7. Place some rice into a bowl, cover with a layer of shredded cabbage and top with the fresh sauce-katsu.