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“Tonkatsu”: A Crispy, Savory Mealtime Favorite

Food and Drink

Tonkatsu is a popular dish and a cinch to make. Whipping up a batch requires only a few cuts of pork (beef is also a tasty substitute) and flour, egg, and breadcrumbs for the koromo, or coating. Enjoy it with shredded cabbage as part of a family meal or a lunchtime treat.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 slices of pork loin or tenderloin, each about 300 g and 1.5 cm thick. (Beef can be substituted for pork.)
  • 2/3 tsp salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Cooking oil for frying (up to several cups depending on the size of the pan)
  • Shredded cabbage, as desired
  • Tonkatsu sauce, as desired
  • Lemon, to taste
  • Coating
    • 1/3 cup cake flour
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp water
    • 2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

Directions

  1. Beat together the egg and water.
  2. Make several slashes along the seam of fat to keep the cutlets from curling when fried. If needed, tenderize the cutlets by pounding with a rolling pin or tenderizer.
  3. Salt and pepper the cutlets and lightly coat with flour. Dip into the egg mixture and then coat in panko breadcrumbs.

The cutlets should be completely coated in breadcrumbs. (© Nippon.com)

  1. Pour 3 cm of oil into a skillet and heat to 160°C (breadcrumbs dropped into the oil will sizzle and spread across the surface). Fry the cutlets for three minutes on each side. (Reduce cooking time slightly if substituting beef.) Use a skimmer to remove stray crumbs from the oil.

The cutlets will gradually turn a mouthwatering golden brown. (© Nippon.com)

  1. Turn the heat to high and increase the oil temperature to 180°C (breadcrumbs dropped on the surface will pop). Fry the cutlets for another minute.
  2. Remove the cutlets from the oil and place on a screen or paper towel. They will continue to cook from the residual heat, so allow them to sit for 4 minutes if 1 cm thick, 5 minutes if 1.5 cm thick, and 7–8 minutes if 2.5 cm thick.
  3. Slice cutlets into bite-sized strips and serve with shredded cabbage. Enjoy with tonkatsu sauce or lemon.

An oil container like the one pictured here makes it easy to strain and store cooking oil. Oil can be reused up to three or four times. (© Nippon.com)

Cooking Tips

  • Experiment with different cuts of pork to find which you like most. Tenderloin has a mild flavor while pork roast is savory and tender.
  • Starting the pork cutlets at a lower temperature and frying them slowly ensures that they cook all the way through.
  • Remember to reduce the cooking time if you are substituting beef for pork.
  • It is standard to serve tonkatsu with shredded cabbage. It is not only crunchy and tasty but helps reduce the oiliness of the cutlet and contains Vitamin C that aids in digestion.
  • If tonkatsu sauce is unavailable where you are, you can substitute Worcestershire sauce (somewhat similar in flavor, although not as thick as the real thing) or your favorite steak sauce, mixed with a dash of ketchup.

(Originally written in Japanese with editorial assistance by Usami Rika and published on January 1, 2018. Photos by Natori Kazuhisa, except where otherwise noted.)

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