The original dish is called the Wiener schnitzel a.k.a. Viennese schnitzel. This is a traditional Austrian dish made up of a thinly sliced meat, pounded, breaded and deep fried. It is also traditionally made with veal (young calf).
I first came across this dish at a restaurant called Edi & The Wolf and it was one of the most memorable meals I ever had, for three reasons. This restaurant has the the "chillest" decor (see the pictures below for yourself), and the most amazing piece of fried meat - the schnitzel. What made that evening truly memorable was the atmosphere of that evening. It was one of those cool autumn evenings and I was with a group of buddies. We ate, we drank, we chatted, we laughed while the world passed by us in a slow motion. This is what life is all about - surrounded by friends, enjoying good food in a quirky place.
Image source: www.ediandthewolf.com
Now, back to the star of the evening - Wiener Schnitzel. Two things about this dish at Edi & The Wolf stood out - the crust is super crispy and puffy (more on this later) and the meat is super thin and tender.
Here is what the owner of this restaurant said on TV
Edi & The Wolf's Wiener Schnitzel (image source: CBS News)
"2/8th of an inch, pounded....perfectly fried....crisped and puffed."
There you go again, the word "puff" is used. Let me explain. When you bread and fry a piece of meat, the breading will stick to the meat like glue, but not the Wiener Schnitzel served at Edi & The Wolf. Their breading puffed up, which creates an air pocket between the crust and the meat. This creates two additional effects - the crust is very crispy and the meat feels tender on the teeth.
Edi & The Wolf's Wiener Schnitzel (image source: http://culturesplosion.wordpress.com/)
When asked how he created the puffed schnitzel, this was what he said:
The meat has to be "perfectly pounded, perfectly breaded....the flour has to be perfectly strained...and fried...."
I have two challenges to overcome - I don't know where to find veal and I don't like to fry stuff at home. My solution is to use pork loin and then "shallow fry" it on a skillet.
I sliced the pork loin to about half an inch thick before pounding it thinly then I seasoned the meat with salt, pepper, a bit of light soy sauce and a bit of dark soy sauce (schnitzel purist don't shoot me). Next, I dip the meat in flour, shook off excess flour, dipped it into the egg wash, shook off excess egg wash, then coated it with bread crumbs.
I bought a cast-iron skillet not too long ago and what I really like about a cast-iron skillet is that I can heat the oil to a very high temperature and it will not damage the skillet. This gives me the function of a faux-fryer. Not perfect, I know.
I served my pork schnitzel with a quickly made hummus.
Did my crust puffed up? Clearly not. Was it crispy? Oh yes. The meat was tender, from the pounding, and the flavor was subtle yet flavorful. I am not here to create a replica dish but to cook something new and delicious. On that end, I think I have succeeded.