The origin of tonkatsu can be traced back to the Meiji period, during the start of Japan’s Westernization. Chefs of the period adapted Western dishes to suit Japanese tastes, creating a new cuisine called youshoku. The “katsu” in tonkatsu is short for katsuretto, the Japanese word for cutlet. The first katsu were likely made with beef, and were eaten with a knife and fork, similar to their European counterparts. Japanese chefs adapted the dish by using pork which was more affordable and by slicing the katsu into pieces that could be picked up with chopsticks.
Tonkatsu is usually served on a bed of shredded cabbage along with tonkatsu sauce (a sweet thick sauce based on European Worcestershire sauce) and eaten with rice and a side of miso soup. You can also find it in rice balls, sandwiches and served with Japanese curry.
Tonkatsu (Fried Pork Cutlet) – 2 Servings
- 4 slices Pork Loin, about ¼ inch thick
- 1 cup Flour
- 1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
- 2 Eggs, beaten
- 2 cloves Fresh Garlic (optional)
- 2 cups Frying Oil
- 4 cups Shredded Green Cabbage
- 2 T Tonkatsu Sauce
Heat ½ inch of oil in pan. (Optional: add 2 crushed (but intact) garlic cloves to infuse garlic aroma into the oil and remove before frying.) Bring the oil to frying temperature (about 375F). Pound each cutlet until ¼ inch thick. Dry and season both sides with salt and pepper. Place flour, eggs and panko in three separate shallow dishes. Dredge cutlet in flour and shake off excess. Dip cutlet in eggs and then press into panko until well coated. Fry cutlet on each side until golden brown and place onto a paper towel covered cooling rack and let rest for 2 minutes. Cut into strips and place on top of cabbage. Serve with tonkatsu sauce, rice and enjoy.