Deep-fried pork generally is a cut of pork — or pig — that is cooked at least partially in enough oil to completely cover the meat. Some recipes place an entire prepared roast in a deep fryer for an hour or more, while others call for breading thin cutlets and deep-frying them for a few minutes. In Japan, tonkatsu is deep-fried pork that has been dredged in egg, flour and panko bread crumbs. The Latin American dish known as chicharron is made by deep-frying small cubes of pork or pork skins. Deep-fried pork can be served on its own straight from the oil, used as a filling or topping for another dish, or cooked further in a sauce to reduce any crisp char on the outside.
One of the main challenges involved in making any type of deep-fried pork is maintaining the temperature of the oil. Whether the pork is a whole ham or just some small cubes, the oil must be kept at a fairly consistent level so the pork can cook through and crisp on the outside without burning or charring. In general, oil is the correct temperature to deep-fry pork when the pieces of pork that are added bubble and cook slowly but do not immediately char or sink to the bottom with no reaction. Some cuts of pork need to be deep-fried for an hour or longer, so having a way to maintain the temperature is vital.
Chicharron is a popular Latin American dish that is made by taking small, fatty cubes of pork and deep-frying them in oil until the outside is crisp and the meat inside has just barely cooked. Depending on the region, it also can be just the skin of the pig that is deep-fried until it becomes crisp. The resulting chicharron can be included in recipes for tacos and other entrees, or it can be served as a snack by itself.
Tonkatsu is a Japanese dish and involves taking thin cuts of pork and coating them in flour, egg and panko bread crumbs to form a crust. They are deep-fried until crisp and served with a special dipping sauce that has sweet and earthy elements. Tonkatsu also can be accompanied by hot Japanese mustard and other spicy condiments that help to cut through the greasiness of the deep-fried pork.
In certain cuisines, deep-fried pork entails preparing an entire roast as if it were going to be barbecued. Flavor injections of special sauces, marinades and dry rubs can all be used to help give the meat a tender, moist texture and taste when it is done deep-frying. The roasts can be deep-fried for an hour or more in some cases. In some recipes, the roast is removed from the deep fryer and baked in a moist oven over a pan of water to help reconstitute any bits on the surface that have crisped too much.