Tonkatsu is deep fried panko crumbed pork. Follow this easy tonkatsu recipe to make juicy and crispy panko crumbed pork!
What is Tonkatsu?
‘Ton’ written in Kanji character means pig, hence why this dish uses pork. “Katsu” is derived from the English word “Cutlets”. Tonkatsu is a classic Japanese home cooked dish but there are also many Tonkatsu speciality restaurants in Japan. Tonkatsu is pork coated with panko crumb and then deep fried. Japanese people love this dish so much and made Tonkatsu into other dishes such as Katsu Karee, Katsu Don Katsu Sandwich, etc.
Which cut of pork ?
Pork loin or fillets (tenderloin) are usually used for making Tonkatsu. When the fillet part of pork is used, it is called “Hirekatsu“. Pork loin is suitable to make Tonkatsu because the quality and texture of this cut is fine, soft, and is the umami-packed part of the pork. When the meat is deep fried, it is still juicy and tender.
Not without finely shredded Cabbage called “Kyabetsu no sengiri”
If you have been to Japan or local Japanese restaurant you would have seen that finely shredded cabbage ALWAYS accompanies Tonkatsu. We Japanese people can not have tonkatsu or any other deep fried panko crumbed food without this finely shredded cabbage! You can use a vegetable shredder. It will shred really fine but just be careful to not shred your finger like I did before. Or you can remove the cabbage leaves one by one, cut it in half and remove the hard stem part then roll 2-3 leaves together and slice it with a sharp knife about 1mm (0.04 inch)thick. Again, you need to be careful not to cut your finger.
Tonkatsu sauce is very easy to find in Japan. Like many other Japanese people, I am a big fan of “Bulldog” brand tonkatsu sauce (I am not sponsored or receiving any sort of commission). It’s a fruity and umami packed thick sauce that perfectly complements Tonaktasu. Just like we can not have Tonkatsu without shredded cabbage, we also can not eat it without tonkatsu sauce. I am lucky enough to have two Japanese grocery stores in Brisbane so I can buy it, but if you don’t have any, you can try either online or make your own.
Usually, the way people deep-fry is by coating with flour, then dipping in egg, then coating with bread crumbs. However, most people like me are very busy with work so we don’t have much time to be doing this. So I want to skip as much as possible without compromising on flavour and taste. My number one hack is to add Japanese mayonnaise and mix egg, water and flour all together to make a batter. Dip the prepared pork into the mixture then straight to panko crumbs.
Tips to make Juicy inside and Crispy outside delicious Tonkatsu
Prepare the pork – score the fat and connecting tissues at 2cm (0.78 inch) intervals so that the meat does not curl up when it is deep fried. The pork I bought was about 2cm (0.78 inch) thick loin so I needed to use a meat hammer to flatten it out to about 1 cm (0.39inch).
I have discussed it so many times why to use Japanese mayonnaise, so I will not go there here but you can check out why using Japanese mayonnaise is good in my other post such as Potato Croquette .
Finally, the deep frying temperature is the key. The tonkatsu meat is usually quite thick. If you add it to really hot oil, it will brown the outside quickly without cooking the inside properly. But if you deep fry in low heat, you will end up with soggy and oily crumbed pork. To avoid those problems, start to deep fry in 160-170 degree celsius (320-338 F)for about 3 minutes then heat up to 180 or 190 degree celsius (356-374 F)and deep fry a few more minutes. It should be evenly golden brown outside and when you lift it up out of oil with chopsticks, you can feel vibration or tremor through the chopsticks.
Here is my recipe for Tonkatsu and If you liked it, please rate it and leave a comment below. Also, don’t forget to follow me on Youtube, Pinterest, Facebook , Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date with all the latest happenings on Chopstick Chronicles. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #ChopstickChronicles so I can see your wonderful creations!
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Juicy and crispy panko-crumbed Tonkatsu
- 3 pork sirloin steak weigh about 400 g *1
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tbsp Japanese mayonnaise
- 4 tbsp plain flour
- 3 cups panko crumb *2
- 50 g deep frying oil *3
- 200 g cabbage I used sugarloaf cabbage
- 6 cherry tomato to serve
- 3 shiso leaves optional to garnish
Prepare the pork. Make small cuts at 2cm(0.78inch) intervals along the edge of the pork in order to avoid the pork curling up when its fried.
Using a meat mullet, bash the meat to flatten to about 1cm(0.39 inch) thick.
Season the pork with salt and pepper
Prepare the batter. Combine egg, water and mayonnaise in a mixing bowl.
Add plain flour to the egg mixture bowl and mix them briefly with chopsticks. Be careful not to over mix it.
Prepare the batter bowl, a tray of panko crumbs, and another tray to place the coated pork.
Dip a piece of pork into the batter and coat well with batter. Remove excess batter and move it to the tray of panko crumbs.
Coat the pork with panko crumbs on both sides well by pressing down to adhere and also make sure that all sides of the pork are covered.
Place the panko crumbed pork to the last tray and repeat the process for the rest of the pork.
Heat the deep frying oil in a deep frying pan or deep fryer (like I did) to 170 degree celsius(338F). At the same time line kitchen paper on a wire rack on a tray.
When the oil reaches the temperature, gently put one pork in. Cook one at a time.
Deep fry the pork for a few minutes without moving it around, when the edge becomes golden brown, flip it over gently and carefully with chopsticks and heat up to 190 degree celsius (374F) to cook for a further 2-3 minutes till golden brown.
Drain the deep fried pork on the kitchen paper-lined wire rack. Cook the rest of crumbed pork in the same way.
Slice the deep fried pork into 1.5cm(0.59 inch) strips and move all pieces in one go by placing the knife underneath the cut pork. *4
Serve with finely shredded cabbage, shiso leaves and tomato.
Pore the tonkatsu sauce over the pork.
*1 The pork I bought comes in 3 sirloin steaks weighing about 400 g
*2 If you are unable to find Japanese Panko crumb, you can make your own. Pulse white crusty bread in a food processor and spread them onto a tray. Allow them to dry until crisp.
*3 50g oil was absorbed, but you will need about 500g or more depending on the size of your deep frying pan.
*4 Japanese people use chopsticks so any large meat or food is usually cut into smaller sizes so that its easy to use chopsticks.
*5 If you are unable to access to Tonkatsu sauce. Make your own. Combine 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tbsp of tomato ketchup and 1 tsp of mirin.
*6 Tonkatsu can be dressed with miso sauce which is called Miso Katsu.