Tonkatsu 돈까스: Japanese Breaded Pork Cutlets

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Another weekend gone!  We packed in our Saturday with dental appointments, T-ball game, ballet class, friend’s birthday party, and cleared out our little patio to make some extra room for the kiddos to hang out in.  We are planning to be adventurous and TRY to make our own DIY teepees in the near future so the kids don’t burn outside since we don’t have any good trees for shade.  But in the meantime, I made A and B’s favorite dish: Tonkatsu!  We like to serve it up with cabbage slaw, white rice, and the special tonkatsu dipping sauce.

Back in March, I asked A what dish she wanted for her birthday dinner and she asked for Tonkatsu! She loves the crunchy breaded pork dipped in the sauce with the slightly sweet and tangy cabbage slaw on the side.  I think it’s safe to say it’s a family favorite.  My kids have never been huge meat eaters but I can always count on them to clean their plate when I serve them Katsu.  C likes to lick her dipping sauce bowl clean… … …

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Before you start on anything, you want to make your rice since it takes a good 40 mins in my rice cooker.  I used my handy dandy electric rice cooker and made 3 cups of white rice (we like to have rice leftover for making rice balls or fried rice for lunch the following day).  After you cook your rice, you want to make the cabbage slaw, the tonkatsu sauce, and the tonkatsu (pork) last.

Tonkatsu is a Japanese dish, but is quite popular with Koreans and was a favorite of mine growing up (now you know why my kids love it).  I like adding some garlic into my egg to help offset any “pork smell” and I think it makes it taste better.   You could “hammer” down the pork to make it more tender, but I don’t find it necessary.  Feel free to substitute pork with chicken or beef, too. And you can add tonkatsu to curry, ramen, and other dishes. How can you go wrong with crunchy, fried pork?

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Look how pretty and green the cabbage is!

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I used half a head of cabbage and sliced it nice and thin.

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Make your cabbage slaw sauce by mixing the mayo, vinegar, and sugar.

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Then mix the sauce with your sliced cabbage and add some shredded carrots. I usually have a bag of shredded carrots on hand from Trader Joe’s.

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Make the Tonkatsu sauce by mixing all the ingredients together.

Before you touch the pork, you want to get all the prep ready.

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Heat the oil on medium heat in a pan deep enough and wide enough to fry about 4 cutlets at a time.

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Prepare the flour mixture by mixing in the salt and pepper.

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Start with 1 cup of panko bread crumbs in a wide dish. I ended up using 2 cups total.

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Lightly beat the egg (I used a fork) with 1 TB of milk and a cube of frozen crushed garlic (from Trader Joe’s)

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Get your assembly line ready! 1.Flour 2.Egg 3.Panko

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Now time to handle the meat!

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You can buy the thin cut pork, or if it’s thicker, just slice it in half, horizontally.

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All sliced and ready to “bread”

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Coat in flour mixture

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Dunk it in the egg mixture

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Press it into the Panko bread crumbs until coated

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Bread half (4) of the cutlets then carefully place into hot oil to fry before breading the rest

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Gently and carefully place the pork into the hot oil and fry

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It should be hot enough that it bubbles. I had my heat on Med high heat. Raise or lower the temperature as needed.

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Flip it and fry until nice and golden.

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You can cut one in half to see if it’s ready.

Now for the recipes.  The ingredients are all easy to find.  Mirin is a sweet rice wine and can be replaced with these and they can be found in the Asian aisle at most grocery stores.  And I can’t imagine any grocery store that doesn’t stock Panko Bread crumbs in this day and age.  🙂  And you know where to find all the other ingredients.

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Cabbage Slaw Recipe
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 TB vinegar
  • 1 TB granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Mix mayo, vinegar, sugar, and salt together in a small bowl then add it to the cabbage and carrots and mix.  You can add more or less vinegar and sugar to taste.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Tonkatsu Sauce Recipe
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2-3 TB worchestershire sauce
  • 1 TB light soy sauce
  • 1-2 tsp Mirin
  • 1-2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl.  Adjust worchestershire, mirin, and sugar to taste.  (If you like a stronger kick, then add 3 TB worchester, otherwise, just 2 TB) You can also omit the Mirin and add another 1/2 tsp of sugar, if desired.

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Tonkatsu (Breaded Pork) Recipe
  • 1.5 lb bonless pork loin chop (thin cut preferred)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 TB salt
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 TB milk
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (1 cube frozen crushed garlic from Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs
  • Canola or Vegetable Oil (approximately 4 cups, enough to fry the pork)
  1. Heat the oil over medium to medium-high heat in a saucepan or pot that is wide and deep enough to fry the pork (4 at a time).
  2. Prepare the flour mixture by placing 1/3 cup of flour into a wide plate and mixing in the 1 TB salt and 2 tsp ground pepper
  3. Lightly beat 2 eggs and add in 1 TB milk and garlic and mix.  Place in a wide plate deep enough to hold the egg mixture.
  4. Place 1 cup of bread crumbs into a wide plate and add more as needed.
  5. Prepare the pork by coating it in the flour mixture, dipping it completely in the egg mixture, then coating it with the panko bread crumbs.  Lightly press the pork into the bread crumbs to ensure a full and even coating.  Set aside and repeat for half of the pork.
  6. Check that the oil is hot, then carefully slide the breaded pork into the oil.  Fry about 2 mins on each side.
  7. Meanwhile, bread the remaining pork following the same order: flour, egg, panko.
  8. Fry the remaining pork cutlets in the hot oil and place the fried cutlets on a plate lined with paper towels.
  9. Cut and serve immediately with the dipping sauce, the rice, and cabbage slaw.

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If you’ve never tried Tonkatsu, then TRY IT!  L&L Hawaiian BBQ’s Chicken Katsu is sort of a spin-off of the Japanese Tonkatsu if you’ve tried that before.  I used to frequent L&L for their chicken katsu many times during my college years (I lived right behind it). Now I just make my own.  🙂

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week!

-Flora

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