Kanako's Kitchen

Tonkatsu: Japanese Style Pork Cutlet

Posted in main dish, Recipe, today's meal by Kanako Noda on October 16, 2009

tonkatsuEverybody loves tonkatsu. Seriously, I’ve never met anyone who didn’t. What we have here is a kind of souped-up Wiener Schnitzel with an Asian twist: a family treat everyone looks forward to.

In fact, this is one of these dishes that seeped into Japanese cuisine from the West over many decades. Ton=pork, and the “katsu” comes from “katsuretsu”, which is a corruption of “cutlet”! Wherever it came from, ton-katsu is now firmly established in the Japanese repertoir.

Granted, nobody would confuse this for a simple recipe. There are a lot of ingredients and a lot of steps, and it makes a big mess in your kitchen. Trust me, though, it’s worth it. And I’ve made sure this recipe is full of little kitchen secrets that will allow you to make “real Japanese ton-katsu”.

tonkatsu ingredient Ingredients: (for three or four)

  • Pork Loin, sliced about 3 cm. thick (450 grams, two cutlets per diner)
  • Eggs (two)
  • Wheat flour (normal, unbleached – 1/2 a cup)
  • Regular sandwich bread (about seven slices)
  • Cabbage
  • Tonkatsu sauce (if you can’t find it at your local Asian store, you can get surprisingly close by just mixing equal parts Worcestershire Sauce and Ketchup!)
  • tonkatsu saucePlenty of frying oil
  • Newsprint


  • Slice a third of a cabbage into very thin slices. Then soak under cold water.
  • Make the bread crumbs by putting the six slices of regular sandwich bread in a blender. Blend them.Making your own bread crumbs is the secret to great ton-katsu, so resist the temptation to skip this and use store-bought bread crumbs. Use bread that’s fresh for this, not stale.
  • Season the pork on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Set up a little productionSet up a little production line for the cutlets, in this order:Pork
    Two Eggs (beaten a little bit)
    Bread Crumbs
  1. Dunk each cutlet in flour until it is completely and evenly covered on both sides. Pat to remove excess flour.
  2. Then dunk it in the egg, covering it thoroughly on both sides.
  3. Then dunk it in the bread crumbs covering it thoroughly, evenly and completely on both sides.
  4. Set the cutlets aside.
  • Optional Tip: if you have a bit of flour, egg and/or bread crumbs left over, you can make mix them together to make a quick bit of batter. Dunk some vegetables in it and make fritters. (In these pictures: we used onions.)

cut cabbage soak under cold water preparation Season the pork Dunk each cutlet in flour Pat to remove excess flour Dunk in the egg dunk it in the bread crumbs Set the cutlets aside


  1. Heat a big frying pan and add a good quantity of cooking oil gently over a medium-low fire.
  2. As with tempura, you don’t want the frying oil to get too hot. If it’s smoking, it’s wayyyy too hot.
  3. Fry the cutlets slowly, over a fairly low flame.
  4. Once fully cooked, remove from pan onto the newsprints to absorb the excess oil. Then cut each cutlet into strips (so you can eat them with chop-sticks)
    Pour ton-katsu sauce on top and serve hot.

Fry the cutlets slowly fry vegetables too remove from pan on the newsprints

click to enlarge

Just before serving, drain the cabbage and serve alongside the cutlets. For some reason, it’s only real ton-katsu if it’s served with lots and lots of cabbage.

If you have left over cutlets, refrigerate them, then re-heat them in a toaster oven and serve them with mayo and lettuce in a sandwich:  that’s “katsu-sando”!

Tonight, we had tonkatsu with white rice and some nattou with steamed okra on the side.

16th dinnerItadakimasu!

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10 Responses

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  1. Ana said, on October 17, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    I love this one! Kanako and Quico invited me for dinner and Kanako cooked this. It’s very good!!!
    I may try to cook it myself…

    • caracaschronicles said, on October 17, 2009 at 9:47 pm


      Definitely come again, but…ton-katsu is not the pork dish we made you! (Yours was boiled with daikon, not fried!)

  2. german said, on October 19, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    de todas las cosas non-sushi de la cocina japonesa que quiero probar esta es de las primeritas en la lista

  3. HalfEmpty said, on October 20, 2009 at 6:31 am

    I’m going to give that a shot the next time the SO is out of town for a week. How long to prepare for a 1st timer? 3 hours?

  4. revbob22 said, on October 20, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Definitely on my list to try. Keep them coming!


    When I am breading something, I assign one hand to be the “dry” one and one to be the “wet” one. That way you only end up with clumps on one hand, not both!

  5. revbob22 said, on October 20, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Oh, sorry to post again. When deep frying, it is good to have a thermometer handy to check the oil temp. 350-375 F is the primo range to avoid too much oil being sucked up by the food you are frying. Canola, Corn or Peanut oil work best. Avoid blends, and certainly avoid Olive Oil! Olive Oil begins to break down right around 350 F, making it a lousy choice for deep frying.

    If it is smoking, you are at or past 390 F. Too hot!

    • nodako said, on October 20, 2009 at 3:09 pm

      Thank you for the good advice! I need a calculator to check the temp. in Fahrenheit. One thing, for tempura people say the temperture should be from 320 F (160 C) to 374 F (190C).

      Also, you are right. I always use hands separately, as you adviced! This way you can finish the job quickly and cleanly.

  6. revbob22 said, on October 21, 2009 at 6:41 am

    Sorry nodako, I will try to post in C as well in the future.

    I am intrigued by the low temp of 160. What type of oil is typical for tempura frying?

    • nodako said, on October 21, 2009 at 9:51 am

      The temp of 160 is normally for greens when you don’t want to lose the green color, or for carbohydrate things like sweet potato, renkon (lotus root) which takes time to cook well. For another like meat, temp. 350-360 F is perfect.
      Anyway the point is, I think, fry slowly, not quickly in high heat.
      Even if meat or vegetable absorb a lot of oil, the newspaper absorbs it later. So this way I don’t feel the thing oily.

      I use always Canola oil. In Japan Canola, Corn, and safflower oil are popular. I agree with you avoinding Olive Oil! This is not for frying.

      • revbob22 said, on October 21, 2009 at 12:55 pm

        Thank you, nodaro. I think I understand why for veggies the temp should be lower. Too much heat would release too much moisture at once, actually lowering the oil temp too much.

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