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.
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.