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Tonkatsu – Japanese Deep-fried Pork Cutlets

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Katsu Sando

Katsu-sando, a tonkatsu sandwich

Tonkatsu   (豚カツ, とんかつ or トンカツ, pork cutlet),  is a Japanese food which consists of a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet. There are two main types, hire and rosu. It is often served with shredded cabbage.

Tonkatsu originated in Japan in the 19th century. As well as being served as a single dish, it is also used as a sandwich filling or in combination with curry.

Preparation and Serving

Either a pork fillet  (ヒレ, hire) or pork loin  (ロース, rōsu) cut may be used; the meat is usually salted, peppered, dredged lightly in flour, dipped into beaten egg and then coated with panko (bread crumbs) before being deep fried.

Tonkatsu is generally served with shredded cabbage. It is most commonly eaten with a type of thick Worcestershire sauce called Tonkatsu Sauce or simply sōsu (sauce), karashi (mustard) and perhaps a slice of lemon. It is usually served with rice, miso soup and tsukemono and eaten with chopsticks. It may also be served with ponzu and grated daikon instead of tonkatsu sauce.

History

Early katsuretsu was usually beef; the pork version was invented in Japan in 1899 at a restaurant called Rengatei in Tokyo. It was originally considered a type of yōshoku—Japanese versions of European cuisine invented in the late 19th and early 20th centuries — and was called katsuretsu (cutlet) or simply katsu. The term “tonkatsu” (pork katsu) was coined in the 1930s.

Variations

Tonkatsu is also popular as a sandwich filling (katsu sando) or served on Japanese curry (katsu karē).

Tonkatsu is sometimes served with egg on a big bowl of rice as katsudon.

In Nagoya and surrounding areas, miso katsu, tonkatsu eaten with a miso-based sauce, is a specialty.

Variations on tonkatsu may be made by sandwiching an ingredient such as cheese or shiso leaf between the meat, and then breading and frying. For the calorie conscious, konnyaku is sometimes sandwiched in the meat.

Several variations of tonkatsu use alternatives to pork:

  • Chicken Katsu (チキンカツ) – Which uses chicken instead, often appears in Hawaiian plate lunches.
  • Menchi Katsu (メンチカツ) or Minchi Katsu  (ミンチカツ mince Katsu) – A minced meat patty, breaded and deep fried.
  • Hamu Katsu (ハムカツ ham katsu) – A similar dish made from ham, is usually considered a budget alternative to tonkatsu.
  • Gyū Katsu (牛カツ beef katsu) – Also known as bīfu katsu, is popular in the Kansai region around Osaka and Kobe.

Tonkatsu Recipe

Tonkatsu - Japanese Crumbed Pork Cutlets
Ingredients
  • 4 slices pork loin or tenderloin, about 1½ cm thick and 115-180g
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • salt
  • flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups panko or fresh or dried bread crumbs
  • oil for deep-frying
  • shredded cabbage
  • tomato wedges (optional)
  • lemon wedges (optional)
  • carrot sticks (optional)
  • tonkatsu sauce
Instructions
  1. In a few places slash the fat rimming one side of the loin cutlet to keep meat from curling when deep-fried.
  2. Salt lightly then grind fresh pepper over both sides. Dredge lightly in flour.
  3. Dip into beaten egg and then press into breadcrumbs.
To deep-fry
  1. Bring about 8 cm of oil to about 175°C in a heavy-bottomed pot or deep-fryer. Lay 1 or 2 cutlets in the hot oil. Deep-fry till golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, turning them in the oil once or twice. Skim the oil periodically.
  2. Briefly drain cutlets on absorbent paper. Cut pork crosswise at 2 cm intervals into bite-sized slices that are easy to manage with chopsticks. If you plan on eating tonkatsu with knife and fork, do not bother to cut it at this point.
Notes
Against a generous half-plateful of shredded cabbage, arrange cutlet slices as if cutlet was whole. Garnish with wedges of tomato and lemon, and carrot sticks, if desired. The sauce may be poured from a small gravy boat into a small bowl to be used as a dip, or it may be poured over the cutlet and cabbage.

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