Tonkatsu (Breaded Pork Cutlets)
I don’t think I’ve ever had Tonkatsu in a Japanese restaurant; I almost always go for the sushi, something I wouldn’t make at home. Tonkatsu is easy to make at home.
Mark Bittman has a recipe that I like in The Best Recipes in the World. It’s pan fried, not deep fried, although he says you can deep fry them if you want.
He also gives his version of tonkatsu sauce; he claims it is much superior to the commercially prepared sauces which tend to include ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, and hydrolyzed vegetable protein.
There are recipes online for homemade tonkatsu sauce. Most of them seem to be variations of a ketchup/Worcestershire sauce blend. They might be more authentic, but I like the flavor of Mark’s sauce.
(Adapted from a recipe in Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World)
Serves 2 (doubles easily)
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1½ teaspoons soy sauce
1½ teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon rice or other mild vinegar
2 boneless pork steaks, about 6 ounces each (I actually bought one 3/4 pound steak and cut it in half to make two.)
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup oil
Flour for dredging
1 egg lightly beaten
1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1½ cups shredded cabbage
Ingredients, counter clockwise from lower left: flour, egg, panko, pork steaks, tonkatsu sauce
1. Combine the mustard, soy sauce, honey and vinegar for the tonkatsu sauce and set aside.
2. If the pork steaks are a bit thick, pound them between sheets of wax paper so they are about ½ – ¾ inch thick.
3. Sprinkle the steaks with salt and pepper.
4. Heat the oil in a pan over medium to medium-high heat. A pinch of flour will sizzle in the pan when it’s hot enough.
5. Dredge the pork in the flour, then the egg, and then the panko. You want a thick layer of the panko.
6. Put the steaks in the pan and cook for 3 – 4 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn over and cook for another 3 – 4 minutes. (If you double the recipe to cook 4 cutlets, you may have to do them in batches. Keep the first batch in a warm oven while you do the second batch.)
7. Divide the cabbage between two plates and drizzle with some of the tonkatsu sauce.
8. Cut each pork steak crosswise into strips, place them on the cabbage and drizzle with sauce.