Tonkatsu is a Japanese meat dish consisting of a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet, either fillet or loin. It is usually served with shredded cabbage. The dish dates back to the late 19th Century when Japan threw open its doors to Western influence. The ingredients and attention to detail are thoroughly Japanese. Tonkatsu – especially when it’s kuro-buta (Berkshire pork) from Kagoshima – is delightfully tender, and is served with a side of miso soup and a generous portion of shredded cabbage.
Since Tonkatsu is a simple dish that only has a few ingredients, the quality of the ingredients make a huge difference. The most important ingredient is the quality of the pork, so select a tender cut with some fat marbled in. Pick either loin or rib cutlets with even marbling and without much connective tissue and you can’t go wrong. Heritage breeds like Berkshire (kurobuta) or Iberico are the best since they retain a decent fat content.
- 1/2 a cabbage
- 1kg of Pork loin cutlets
- Salt, Pepper & Flour
- 1 large Egg
- 60 grams Panko
- 1 1/2 cups Oil for frying
- 1 tablespoon of toasted Sesame oil
The Cooking Steps
- To prepare the cabbage salad, remove the core and rough outer leaves
- Roll the leaves together and use a sharp chef’s knife to slice the cabbage into thin threads.
- Allow the cabbage to soak in cold water while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Prepare two bowls, one with a well beaten egg and the other with the panko.
- Prepare a wire rack lined with 2 paper towels.
- Add 1 1/2-inches of oil to a heavy bottomed pot and then add 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil.
- Heat the oil to 340 degrees F (170 C). For the pork, salt and pepper both sides. You can also add other seasonings here.
- Dust the chops with an even coating of flour.
- Dip the cutlet in the egg and coat evenly.
- Transfer the pork to the panko and dust evenly, pressing down gently on the cutlet to ensure you get a good coating of breadcrumbs.
- Fry the cutlets until the panko is golden brown and they register 145 degrees F (63 C) with an instant read thermometer. Flip once to ensure even browning and use a skimmer to remove any foam that accumulates on the surface of the oil.
- Be sure to remove the katsu from oil before measuring the temperature or you’ll end up getting a false reading. Depending on the thickness of the chops, they will require 7-10 minutes to cook thoroughly.
- Drain the pork on the paper towel lined rack and let it rest for a few minutes.
- While the pork rests, drain the cabbage and use a salad spinner to remove any excess moisture.
- Place big mounds of cabbage on each plate. Slice the tonkatsu and plate with the cabbage.
Serve with Tonkatsu sauce.
(If you don’t have tonkatsu sauce, substitute by mixing a 1:1 ratio of tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce.)