How to make Tonkatsu
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.
Thanks Adam, your authentic recipes a awesome. Where is the spiked tenderiser to buy in Australia?
Always enjoy your recipes. Really appreciated the details in your sharing. Kudos!
As I don’t eat pork, I want to replace it with chicken and/or beef, but how long should be the frying time ? Same as in 4/5min ?
I finally made this recipe last night. I followed the recipe exactly. The only modifications were using Fahrenheit scale – someday I’ll bond with using the Centigrade scale in the kitchen; I divided the recipe in half since it makes so much, I used my Presto Fryer instead of stove top, and I used a temperature probe for the pork. I used the same small skewer to tenderize the meat as I did to run the pork through the coatings. A bit more poking but the same result. Dragging through the flour and egg 3 times is the way to go, and using the the skewer as a tool genius. I had already made Adam’s homemade Tonkatsu sauce so I used that – which, by the way is the best you’ve ever had. Adam is a talented, world-class chef and a gifted instructor. I think following his recipes exactly is paramount. Adam’s cutting technique results in a perfectly sliced pork display for beautiful plating. I have 3 of his cookbooks and this is just one of the many recipes that I’ve tried and enjoyed. Thank you Adam, all the way from Las Vegas, Nevada USA.
Thank you Adam, your recipes are always straight forward and turn out very very well everytime. Thank you for sharing!
Jus tried this recipe… a complete success!!! Thanks so much for all the detailed instructions and simplifications! (I couldn’t believe when I tasted the sauce, so effective!)