RECIPES | Lauren and I have eaten tonkatsu several times in Japan. We’ve tried it at a variety of places across the country and it’s one of favourite Japanese dishes.
Tonkatsu originated in Japan in the 19th century at the restaurant Rengatei, which still serves customers today. Based on the French côtelette de veau, the dish evolved to cater to Japanese tastes and, by chance, a lack of staff in the kitchen. Tonkatsu is simply a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet (“ton” means pork and “katsu” means cutlet), and when done right, there’s nothing quite like it.
Our version is inspired in particular by out favourite version of the dish at Tonkatsu Maisen in Tokyo. While we haven’t been able to figure out what magic they use to get their breadcrumbs so buttery yet light, we’re pretty happy with our version, and are sure that you will be too.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes / Cooking Time: 10 minutes / Serves: 2 people
- 2 pork cutlets ~200g each, and 2cm / ¾ inch thick. Preferably Berkshire/Kurobuta
- 60g panko
- 30g plain flour
- 1 room temperature egg, beaten
- salt and pepper
- tonkatsu sauce
- rice bran oil (or equivalent smoke point oil). Enough to completely immerse the cutlets while frying
- Heat the oil to 175°C / 350°F.
- If your cutlets are thicker than 2cm / ¾ inch, use a mallet to bash them down to size. Cut any skin and excess fat off the cutlets. You want about 1cm / ⅖ inch of fat. Lightly score the fat.
- Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on both sides of the cutlets.
- Lightly coat the cutlets in flour, dip into the egg wash, and generously coat with panko.
- Let it sit for 10 minutes to ensure that the panko nicely adheres to the cutlet.
- Place the cutlets into the oil and fry for six minutes, until golden brown.
- Remove from the oil and allow to drain on a cooling rack with a paper towel for five minutes to absorb any excess oil.
- Cut each cutlet into pieces, about 2cm thick. Serve topped with a drizzle of tonkatsu sauce and Japanese rice and cabbage salad on the side.
Two types of cutlet are used for tonkatsu in Japan. Rosu-katsu (loin) and hire-katsu (fillet/tenderloin). Those in the know always go for rosu. It’s cheaper and juicer – a win win situation.
It’s important to use panko instead of Western style breadcrumbs. Panko are larger and result in a lighter, crispier coating.