Tonkatsu is a Japanese crumbed pork cutlet. A little like a German or Australian schnitzel, tonkatsu is one of the most popular forms of yōshoku (Western food incorporated into Japanese cuisine). You can find it in many forms – as curry, sandwiches, rice bowls etc. – but its most pure form is as a straight tonkatsu. Just the cutlet, served with shredded cabbage, a thick Worcestershire-like tonkatsu sauce, rice and miso soup on the side.
There’s a bit of an art to making a great tonkatsu, and here’s how you do it.
4 pork loin chops, bone removed, around 1-inch thick
1 cup plain flour
5 eggs, beaten
3 cups panko breadcrumbs
approx. 1-2 L canola oil, for deep frying
¼ tsp hot English mustard
finely shredded cabbage
Japanese pickles (such as takuan)
Quick tonkatsu sauce
½ cup tomato sauce (ketchup)
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
½ tsp English mustard
For the quick tonkatsu sauce, mix together all of the ingredients.
Tenderise the pork with a pork tenderiser (or if you don’t have one, the back of a heavy knife). Push the pork back into its original shape. Heat the frying oil to 175C.
Shred the cabbage thinly with a mandoline.
Pick up each piece of pork by inserting a skewer into it, using the skewer as a kind of hook (this will allow you to move the pork between the flour and egg without getting your hands dirty and without tongs disrupting the coating). Dip the pork into the flour first, and then the egg, then back into the flour, then back into the egg (you can even go for a third coating of flour and egg if you like), and then finally into the panko – ensuring that it is coated completely. Fry the pork two pieces at a time for 4-5 minutes, turning once or twice during the frying process. Drain the pork on a wire rack, standing the pork up on its thin end for better drainage. Allow the pork to cool and drain for 5 minutes.
Slice the cutlet and arrange on a plate with the cabbage, pickles, lemon wedge, cucumber and tomato, and add a smear of mustard. Serve with the tonkatsu sauce, rice and miso soup.
Top Tips for Tonkatsu
- You can buy pre-made tonkatsu sauces from Japanese groceries which are excellent. The quick version given here is really just if you can’t find it near you. My real preference, however, is to make my own tonkatsu sauce (recipe to follow).
- You don’t want to overcook your tonkatsu. Listen for when the meat starts to release its juices (the oil will start to sound very active) and remove the cutlet straight away.
- Stay tuned to my YouTube channel for more tonkatsu recipes.