A tonkatsu fried pork cutlet on a black plate topped with brown sauce and some yellow mustard. Behind it is a small black bowl of shredded cabbage

Tonkatsu – Japanese Pork Cutlets

Tonkatsu are Japanese style fried pork cutlets.  My family loves them and they are easy to prepare when guests come by.  They are served hot and are crispy, crunchy, and oh so good!  Make sure to remember the shredded cabbage and the tonkatsu sauce.

Tonkatsu (fried pork cutlets) is a very popular dish in Japan.  You can find tonkatsu restaurants in almost every town where tonkatsu is the main dish, and it is also an ingredient in other dishes such as curries and rice bowls.  Tonkatsu were inspired by veal cutlets that were imported to Japan from France and later adapted for Japanese palettes.  The original Tonkatsu restaurant, Rengatei, is located in Tokyo’s Ginza district and opened in 1895.  Rengatei first served tonkatsu in 1899 and remains open to this day.  Most tonkatsu restaurants offer other types of cutlets now – chicken cutlets are known as “Tori Katsu”, beef cutlets are “Gyu Katsu”.  Some shops offer specialties like stuffed cutlets, where the meat is stuffed with other ingredients such as cheese or shiso leaves.

Although I try and avoid fried food as much as possible, I cook this one up when we have guests over because it is such a delicious and versatile dish.

Tonkatsu is always served with shredded cabbage.  The cabbage is a nice complement to the fried cutlet, and can be topped with some oil free dressing to make a healthy salad.  Tonkatsu sauce is a must – the two brands I am most familiar with are Bulldog and Kagome – both are delicious.  You can make your own sauce as well – two teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce in 1/4 of ketchup approximate it pretty well.  I like tonkatsu with spicy yellow mustard as well- a dollop on the side of the plate is all you need.  Finally, many people like to grind up sesame seeds and mix it in with the sauce.  Nice restaurants will give you your own mortar and pestle to grind the seeds yourself – but you can also purchase them already ground at any Asian grocery.

Grinding Sesame Seeds using a Mortar and Pestle

Tonkatsu are delicious and is an easy and delicious meal that your whole family will enjoy.  If you try it, let us know how it comes out in the comments.

Tonkatsu - Japanese Pork Cutlets

Tonkatsu is a simple dish to prepare and usually comes out perfectly as long as the temperature of the oil is maintained.  I recommend using pork loin, although any boneless cutlets will work.  Fat tends to shrink and curl when fried, so it’s best to either remove the fat completely, or if you want to eat it with the fat, score it by cutting slices through the fat every 1/4 inch along it’s length.  It’s also good to either tenderize the pork with a mallet or by scoring the surface of the chops by making diagonal cuts along the surface.

PREP COOKING YIELD
10 mins 10 mins Serves 2
PREP 10 mins
COOKING 10 mins
YIELD Serves 2
A tonkatsu fried pork cutlet on a black plate topped with brown sauce and some yellow mustard. Behind it is a small black bowl of shredded cabbage

Ingredients:

Cutlet

  • 2 boneless pork chops
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • Cooking Oil

Toppings

  • Tonkatsu Sauce
  • Ground Sesame Seeds (optional)
  • Japanese spicy mustard (optional)
  • Shredded cabbage

Tonkatsu ingredients as listed arranged on a board. Shredded cabbage is not shown.

Instructions:

  • Score the pork chops with a sharp knife.  Trim off the fat on the edges and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Two Pork chops with fat trimmed off, scored with a knife, and sprinkled with salt and pepper

  • Dip each pork chop in flour to coat.

  • Dredge each pork chop in egg and then dredge through the panko.

  • Preheat the cooking oil to 340 degs F/ 170 degs C.
  • Fry the pork chops until golden brown for 5-7 minutes turning one or twice.

  • Drain on a rack or using paper towels.

  • Slice the pork and serve.  Serve with shredded cabbage, tonkatsu sauce, and ground sesame and/or spicy mustard to taste.

Tonkatsu on a white rectangular There is another bowl on the top right with only the base in view and we can’t tell what’s inside.

Notes:

  • Make sure that the cooking oil is preheated to 340 degrees F / 170 degs C and remains at that temperature through cooking.  Don’t turn the stove up past medium – that should be more than enough to keep the oil hot. Use an oil thermometer to ensure that the oil is preheated before adding the cutlets.
  • Remove or score the fat on the edge of the pork chop.
  • Remember to slice the tonkatsu into bite sized pieces.  In Japan, tonkatsu is eaten with chopsticks and never served with a knife.
  • Always serve with fresh shredded cabbage.

 

 

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