Tonkatsu: Japanese Style Pork Cutlet
In fact, this is one of these dishes that seeped into Japanese cuisine from the West over many decades. Ton=pork, and the “katsu” comes from “katsuretsu”, which is a corruption of “cutlet”! Wherever it came from, ton-katsu is now firmly established in the Japanese repertoir.
Granted, nobody would confuse this for a simple recipe. There are a lot of ingredients and a lot of steps, and it makes a big mess in your kitchen. Trust me, though, it’s worth it. And I’ve made sure this recipe is full of little kitchen secrets that will allow you to make “real Japanese ton-katsu”.
- Pork Loin, sliced about 3 cm. thick (450 grams, two cutlets per diner)
- Eggs (two)
- Wheat flour (normal, unbleached – 1/2 a cup)
- Regular sandwich bread (about seven slices)
- Tonkatsu sauce (if you can’t find it at your local Asian store, you can get surprisingly close by just mixing equal parts Worcestershire Sauce and Ketchup!)
- Plenty of frying oil
- Slice a third of a cabbage into very thin slices. Then soak under cold water.
- Make the bread crumbs by putting the six slices of regular sandwich bread in a blender. Blend them.Making your own bread crumbs is the secret to great ton-katsu, so resist the temptation to skip this and use store-bought bread crumbs. Use bread that’s fresh for this, not stale.
- Season the pork on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Set up a little production line for the cutlets, in this order:Pork
Two Eggs (beaten a little bit)
- Dunk each cutlet in flour until it is completely and evenly covered on both sides. Pat to remove excess flour.
- Then dunk it in the egg, covering it thoroughly on both sides.
- Then dunk it in the bread crumbs covering it thoroughly, evenly and completely on both sides.
- Set the cutlets aside.
- Optional Tip: if you have a bit of flour, egg and/or bread crumbs left over, you can make mix them together to make a quick bit of batter. Dunk some vegetables in it and make fritters. (In these pictures: we used onions.)
- Heat a big frying pan and add a good quantity of cooking oil gently over a medium-low fire.
- As with tempura, you don’t want the frying oil to get too hot. If it’s smoking, it’s wayyyy too hot.
- Fry the cutlets slowly, over a fairly low flame.
- Once fully cooked, remove from pan onto the newsprints to absorb the excess oil. Then cut each cutlet into strips (so you can eat them with chop-sticks)
Pour ton-katsu sauce on top and serve hot.
click to enlarge
Just before serving, drain the cabbage and serve alongside the cutlets. For some reason, it’s only real ton-katsu if it’s served with lots and lots of cabbage.
If you have left over cutlets, refrigerate them, then re-heat them in a toaster oven and serve them with mayo and lettuce in a sandwich: that’s “katsu-sando”!
Tonight, we had tonkatsu with white rice and some nattou with steamed okra on the side.