One of my favourite cuisines is Japanese. If I could marry a platter of sushi, I probably would (hold the wasabi – I’m a wuss like that). The Japanese have a way with food; when I see those really made-up bentos, I wonder how anyone can eat them when they’re too pretty to pick apart. Now, I’m also a hard-core carnivore so even if I do love the fresh seafood prevalent in Japanese dishes, I still demand meat in my diet (or you know, lack of one).
Tonkatsu has always been a go-to dish of mine whenever I’m in Japanese-themed fast food places, for all of the reasons mentioned above. While tonkatsu isn’t traditionally Japanese – more of a West-meets-East kind of food that’s always mistaken for authentic Japanese fare, I love it. And what’s not to? It’s tender, breaded pork cutlets! Served with a healthy dose of sweet, tangy tonkatsu sauce or spicy curry, it can buoy me through even the worst of days.
Prep Time: 1 hour
- 4 centre cut pork chops (2.5 cm thick)
- all-purpose flour for dredging
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg
- 1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- oil for frying
- Tonkatsu or Worcestershire sauce for serving
- Prepare the pork by removing any extra fat or tough skin from the sides of the cutlet. Use a chef’s knife to tenderize the cutlets in a cross-hatch pattern by using a drumming motion across the surface, then turning the meat 90 degrees and repeating. Do this to both sides of each cutlet until they have become around 2cm thick.
- Season both sides of each cutlet with salt and pepper then dredge them in flour, making sure to coat all sides evenly.
- Get two shallow bowls ready. Beat the egg in one, and put the panko into the other. Over medium heat, pour oil into a heavy bottomed pan, around 3cm deep.
- Coat a cutlet in egg then transfer to the bowl of panko. Shake the bowl to coat the cutlet well, then press on the cutlet to get a nice thick coating of panko. Flip and press on the other side then repeat with the rest of the cutlets.
- Wait for the oil to heat to around 170C. Gently lower the tonkatsu into the oil, taking care not to scrape too much panko off. Once the the cutlets are golden brown on one side, carefully flip them over and brown the other side. If you want to check for thorough cooking, use a meat thermometer to test the thickest part of the meat. If it’s at 58C, it’s done.
- Transfer to a paper towel lined wire rack and let rest for about 5 minutes. This allows the internal temperature to continue rising while allowing the proteins to relax, reabsorbing some of the juices so they don’t run all over your plate.
- You can choose to cut the meat or leave it whole. Serve with sauce and enjoy!