What Is Tonkatsu?
Tonkatsu is a Japanese dish of fried pork cutlet traditionally served with shredded cabbage salad, spicy mustard, and dipping sauce. Tonkatsu, which comes from the Japanese word ton, meaning pig, and katsuretsu, which is derived from the English “cutlet.” Tonkatsu originated in nineteenth-century Japan during a period dominated by local takes on European-style dishes.
When served on a bed of rice, tonkatsu is known as katsudon; katsu curry includes a good ladle or two of spiced Japanese curry along with it. Katsu Sandos—tonkatsu served between two pillowy slices of milk bread with the customary cabbage and mustard—are a common sight at cafés all over Tokyo, and becoming even more popular in major cities all over the world.
What Is Tonkatsu Sauce?
Tonkatsu sauce is a sweet Japanese-style BBQ sauce that is typically served with tonkatsu and other fried cutlets. Pre-bottled tonkatsu sauce can be found in Asian grocery stores, but you can always make your own by blending ketchup with a few teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, grated ginger, and garlic.
How to Make Tonkatsu
In the same spirit of German schnitzel, tonkatsu features a boneless pork cutlet (either pork chops or pork tenderloin) pounded thin, dredged in flour, egg, and panko breadcrumbs—airy crumbs made from crustless white bread—and fried until golden brown. The finished cutlet is then cut into thin strips to be more easily eaten with chopsticks and dipped in the accompanying condiments.
While tonkatsu usually involves deep-frying in a fryer, shallow-frying at home works just as well, especially if the meat has been pounded to the correct thickness. And the katsu technique isn’t just limited to pork: Plenty of Japanese variations on the form exist, from chicken katsu made with chicken breast, to gyū katsu, with Wagyu beef.
Prep Time10 min
Total Time20 min
Cook Time10 min
- ½ cup of all-purpose flour
- 1 cup of panko breadcrumbs
- 1 large egg, beaten until smooth
- ½ cup of vegetable oil
- 2 boneless pork chops, pounded if too thick
- First, separate the flour, panko, and egg onto their own respective plates.
- Warm oil in a frying pan with high edges over medium-high heat.
- Season the cutlets with kosher salt and black pepper on either side, then coat in the flour, shaking off any excess before a quick dip in the egg. Next, coat with breadcrumbs, pressing lightly to help the breading adhere to both sides of the cutlet.
- Carefully add the cutlets to the hot oil, and fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side.
- Remove, and set aside on a paper towel to drain. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into inch-wide strips before serving.
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