Welcome to Bokksu Grocery’s very own tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet) recipe! Tonkatsu is a fairly straightforward dish for those just learning to cook any kind of Asian food. That’s because it belongs to yoshoku—Japanese cuisine influenced by Western styles of cooking—and uses some familiar cooking techniques. Tonkatsu is also a surefire way to impress someone with your budding Japanese kitchen skills: even if you’re a total beginner, with tonkatsu, you can easily emulate restaurant-level flavor, texture, and especially presentation.
Before we begin, a brief lesson on the differences between tonkatsu, katsudon, and tonkotsu ramen. The names are similar and so are the ingredients. We want to make sure you know what you’re about to make with this tonkatsu recipe.
- Tonkatsu: Today's recipe!
- Translation: Ton (pig) + Katsu (a transliteration of “cutlet”)
What is it?: Breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet served with shredded cabbage and a bowl of rice.
- Translation: Katsu (“cutlet”) + don (suffix for donburi, a meal served over a bowl of rice)
- What it is: Breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet cooked in an umami-bath with sliced onion and beat eggs, served over a bowl of rice.
- Tonkotsu ramen
- Translation: pork bones + ramen (the famous curly wheat noodle)
- What is it?: Ramen served in a milky broth base that has been simmered for many hours. The primary ingredient of said broth? Porkbones!
If you don’t have much in the fridge, but want to make something tasty, cheap, and medium-quick, tonkatsu is a great dish to use. Feel free to sub in boneless chicken breasts, if that’s what you have on-hand, and most vegetables can be used in place of cabbage, need be. (A super easy option is spinach sauteed in sesame oil!) For the health-minded, you can even create a baked version, though you might want to skip the double-breading.
This tonkatsu recipe is for two, but many of our measurements are based on the size of the cutlets and skillet. Feel free to eyeball it and adjust to taste.
First, let’s gather our ingredients:
- 2 Thin-sliced pork cutlets
- 1 Cup flour
- 2 Eggs
- 1-2 Cups panko bread crumbs
- Salt to taste
- Canola Oil (enough to fill your skillet 1” deep )
- ¼-½ Cabbage
- 1 Cup rice (using the rice cooker measuring cup: it’s approx. ¾ standard cup)
- Water (fill with rice to correct measurement line)
- Tonkatsu sauce (we actually used this okonomi sauce because they’re so similar)
- 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
Next, all the equipment you’ll need:
- 1 sharp cooking knife and cutting board
- 1 small skillet
- 3 medium-sized, shallow bowls (one each for flour, egg, and panko)
- rice cooker
- 1-2 pairs cooking chopsticks (or tongs, if that’s easier)
- Meat pounder (or the blunt end of your knife)
- 1 food thermometer
- 1 fine mesh skimmer
- Cooling rack
- Optional: mandolin, for shredding cabbage
Let’s make some tonkatsu!
Set the stage
- First, a PSA: Make sure your rice is CORRECT. Measure and rinse repeatedly (stir the rice around with one hand) until the water runs clear. Leave in the cooker to soak for 30 min - 1 hr.
- Stand your rinsed cabbage on the stem, then cut in four even wedges.
- Cut the bulk of the core from 1 wedge by cutting two cuts angled towards one another
- Shred 1 wedge by cutting it as thinly as possible. (For authenticity, shred half of a cabbage! It’s a lot of ruffage, but in Japan, it's how we improve gut health while also eating fried food.)
- Pour flour, eggs, and panko into the 3 bowls. (Optional: Sprinkle salt into panko, to taste.)
- Mix the eggs together with a fork or chopsticks.
- Don’t forget to set your rice cooker to “cook” once it has finished soaking!
Prepare the cutlets!
- Make a few short, thin slices across the fat and meat where they connect.
- Pound your cutlet on both sides and use your hands to gather it back into its original shape.
- Pour oil into your skillet until it is 1” deep. Heat it to 170-180°F.
- Thinly coat cutlet in flour, egg mixture, then thoroughly coat in panko bread crumbs.
- **Hot Tip!** Repeat Step 11 for restaurant-quality crispiness.
- Once oil has reached 170-180°F, gently set cutlet in to fry. Fry until golden brown on both sides.
- Set cutlet onto cooling rack. While the oil reheats, use your mesh skimmer to remove leftover tempura. This keeps the next cutlet from tasting burnt.
- Slice into chopstick-friendly, bite-sized strips. Top with a generous amount of sauce and sprinkle with lots of sesame seeds.
- Serve with a bowl of rice and plenty of shredded cabbage.
Gochisosama deshita! (Thanks for all your hard work!) Let’s go enjoy some homemade tonkatsu.