Extra-Crispy Tonkatsu

published Jan 25, 2022
Tonkatsu Recipe

Breaded and fried pork chop is a weeknight dinner crowd-pleaser.

Serves4

Prep25 minutes

Cook15 minutes to 18 minutes

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A plate of Tonkatsu (a Japanese dish that consists of a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet.) It is on a white plate with a side of shredded cabbage on the plate and a bowl of white rice on the side.
Credit: Meleyna Nomura

Tonkatsu is one of those dinners I know will be greeted with cheers when I bring it to the table. While breaded and fried pork chop is definitely popular with my kids, it’s also integral to Japanese food culture.

Tonkatsu is part of a specific Japanese cuisine known as yoshoku. Yoshoku refers to dishes that originated in the West and got a bit of a makeover to suit the Japanese palate. Dishes include meals like Japanese curry, rice-stuffed omelets, and hamburger steak. But a few differences set tonkatsu apart from its European cousins.

What’s the Difference Between Tonkatsu, Schnitzel, and Milanese?

All three are basically thin cutlets of meat that are breaded and fried. But to be tonkatsu, it must be a thin pork chop breaded in super-crunchy panko breadcrumbs. Panko has exploded in popularity the last 15 years or so, and you’ll very often find a schnitzel or chicken Parmesan breaded in the Japanese breadcrumbs. But traditionally, the latter two are made with a much finer breadcrumb. So while schnitzel may be coated in panko, tonkatsu must use the stuff. 

Is Katsu the Same Thing as Tonkatsu?

Katsu refers to the fried cutlet — “ton” just indicates it’s made with pork. Katsu can be made with chicken cutlets, as well as beef or even slabs of tofu. 

How Do I Serve Tonkatsu?

Tonkatsu is sliced before serving. This makes it easier to eat with chopsticks, but I also find slicing it helps to stretch the amount of meat being served. Instead of serving up a whole cutlet per person, everyone can just take the number of slices they’d like. 

Credit: Meleyna Nomura

Tonkatsu is almost always served with thick katsu sauce drizzled over the top. You can make a version of it, but most people just buy it. It’s also common to find a pile of icy cold cabbage next to the cutlet, presumably to cut through the grease. 

You’ll also find tonkatsu served as the following:

  • Tonkatsu-don: The fried cutlet is served on top of a big bowl of rice, sometimes with a seasoned omelet.
  • Katsu curry: Tonkatsu is smothered in a thick and rich Japanese curry.
  • Katsu sando: Exactly what it sounds like! Tonkatsu cutlet is sandwiched between two slices of fluffy white bread, sometimes with cabbage, always with katsu sauce.

Tonkatsu Recipe

Breaded and fried pork chop is a weeknight dinner crowd-pleaser.

Prep time 25 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes to 18 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 4

    thin-cut boneless pork loin chops (about 1 pound total)

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 1 1/2 cups

    panko breadcrumbs

  • 1 to 2 cups

    neutral oil, such as canola oil, for shallow frying

For serving:

Instructions

  1. Pat 4 thin-cut pork chops dry with paper towels. Use kitchen shears to make small cuts about 1/2-inch apart along the white fat cap around the edge of each pork chop to prevent the meat from curling up while cooking. You don’t need to cut into the meat, just through the fat and connective tissue. Season the pork chops all over with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

  2. Place a pork chop in a gallon sized zip-top bag. Use the smooth side of a meat mallet or bottom of a small pan to pound until evenly 1/4-inch thick. Remove from the bag and repeat with remaining pork chops.

  3. Place 1/2 cup all-purpose flour in a pie plate or wide, shallow bowl. Place 2 large eggs in a second pie plate or wide shallow bowl and whisk until well-combined. Place 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs in a third pie plate or wide shallow bowl.

  4. Dredge the pork chops one at a time: Place in the flour, flipping to coat, then pat to remove the excess flour. Place in the eggs and turn to coat. Let the excess egg drip off, then place in the panko breadcrumbs. Scoop the panko around the pork to cover most of the top and press the crumbs in to adhere. Flip the chop and repeat so that it’s well-coated. Place on a large plate or baking sheet in a single layer.

  5. Add enough neutral cooking oil to a large nonstick or cast iron skillet until about 1/3-inch deep (1 to 2 cups depending on the size of your skillet) and heat over medium heat until 350°F. Using tongs, carefully slide 2 pork chops into the oil and cook, maintaining a heat of around 330ºF, until the panko starts to brown, about 2 minutes. Flip the chops and cook for 2 minutes. Flip the chops again, cooking the first side until evenly browned, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Flip one more time and cook until the second side is evenly browned, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes more for a total cook time of 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate or baking sheet and season with salt. Repeat frying the remaining pork chops.

  6. Slice crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide pieces and drizzle with katsu sauce. Serve with thinly sliced cabbage and rice.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers, preferably uncut, in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat whole cutlets in a 375°F oven directly on the rack until crispy and hot, 10 to 12 minutes.