What is tonkatsu
Tonkatsu (pronounced ‘ton-kat-suh’) is a piece of pork fillet deep-fried in a crispy coating of breadcrumbs. The word literally means pig (ton) cutlet (katsu, an abbreviation of katsuretu). The meat is breaded with panko, Japanese breadcrumbs, which are made of white bread without the crusts and are coarser than ordinary breadcrumbs. Less fat is absorbed and the crust becomes extra airy and crunchy.
At the end of the nineteenth century this dish was mainly eaten with beef. At the time it was seen as a newfangled, west-inspired dish, a yoshoku. In 1899, a restaurant in Tokyo introduced the pork variant, which is now served everywhere.
Tonkatsu is also used as a basis for other dishes, such as katsu kare: tonkatsu served with a curry sauce and rice, katsudon: a bowl of rice with fried onion, tonkatsu and egg, or katsusando: a sandwich with tonkatsu. In addition to tonkatsu, torikatsu – or chicken cutlet – is a popular dish in Japan.
East versus west
The tonkatsu dish can be considered to be just like a schnitzel or escalope, but Japanese. Perfect if you want to stick to familiar flavours. Thanks to the sauce, you can still imagine yourself in Canadian atmospheres.
Did you know?
There are about as many Japanese sauces as there are Japanese dishes. Just like okonomiyaki, teriyaki and yakisoba, the tonkatsu dish also has its own sosu. The sauce available ready-made in Japanese supermarkets, but it is also easy to make with ketchup, Worcester sauce, oyster sauce and sugar.
How to make tonkatsu?
Tenderise a pork fillet with a meat mallet, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover it with a thin layer of flour, then dip it in some beaten egg and then a good layer of panko breadcrumbs. Then fry in oil until it is brown and crispy.
Before serving, cut the tonkatsu into strips and drizzle with tonkatsu sauce.
How to eat
Tonkatsu is usually served with a salad of raw, shaved cabbage. You eat the tonkatsu with chopsticks.
Add a bowl of steamed rice and a bowl of miso soup to go with it, and you have a full meal ready to go.