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Tonkatsu (Fried Pork Cutlet)


Tonkatsu (Fried Pork Cutlet)


Tonkastu is a simple dish that you can find throughout Japan. It’s basically a fried pork cutlet that’s been breaded with panko breadcrumbs and deep-fried. As simple as this dish may be I found that adding a few additional steps transforms this dish into something that little more special. I brined the pork for 4 hours before cooking which made the meat extra tasty and juicy and decided to make my own version of a tonaktsu sauce to go with it to take it up another level. For the panko breadcrumbs, I decided to make my own fresh breadcrumbs with brioche. With all that said lets make tonkatsu!


1. Let’s start this dish by making the brine for the pork. In a pan add 1000ml of water, 40g of Himalayan sea salt, 2 star anise, 1 tsp black peppercorns and 1 tbsp of mustard seeds. Bring up to a boil and boil for approx 5-10 minutes so that the salt dissolves. When ready place into a container and allow the brine to cool. When cool add the pork cutlets to the brine and brine for 4-6 hours.
2. When the pork is nearly finished brining we can start to prepare for the rest of the dish. For the tonkatsu sauce in a pan, add 1/2 roughly chopped onion, 2 chopped garlic cloves and two diced seedless tomatoes. Fry on a low heat with a small drizzle of cooking oil. After 10 minutes of frying now add 1 tsp of Japanese shichimi pepper, 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard, 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tbsp light soy, 1 tbsp ketchup and 1 tbsp of sugar. Cook the sauce on a medium heat until reduced by half then add 200ml of water and reduce again until thickened. When the sauce has finished adjust the seasoning if needed and place to one side.

3. For the cabbage slice the 1/2 of a cabbage into 2 and remove the inner core. Slice the cabbage lengthways as thin as possible then add the sliced cabbage to a bowl of cold water and place to one side.

4. To make the panko for the dredge simply grate 1/2 of a brioche loaf into a container (Its easier if the brioche is frozen). When grated add 100g of panko breadcrumbs to the grated brioche and mix well. In a separate tray crack 4 whole eggs and whisk well. The final tray for the dredge will be 200g of plain flour. When all prepared place the flour, egg wash and breadcrumbs to one side ready for the pork.

5. After at least 4 hours of brining the pork should now be ready to cook. Remove the pork from the brine and pat dry with kitchen paper. Make small scores into the fat part of the cutlets and place onto a plate. For an extra seasoning for the pork in a small bowl add 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard, 1 tbsp dijon mustard, 1 tbsp light soy and 1 tsp of sugar. Mix well and lightly brush the pork with the mustard seasoning. Finally season with some fresh cracked pepper and place the pork cutlets to one side. (Don’t add additional salt to the pork as the salt would already have come from the brine process).

6. Now to dredge the pork, lightly dust each pork cutlet in the flour then dust off any excess. Now add the cutlets to the egg wash, again removing any excess egg wash that is left on. Then add the pork to the breadcrumbs and evenly coat. After the breadcrumbs place back into the egg wash again and then one last final time back into the breadcrumbs to double breadcrumb the cutlets. When all the pork is dredged place onto a tray and prepare to fry.

7. To fry the pork place a generous amount of cooking oil into a pan and place onto a medium to high heat. (You want enough oil so that the cutlets can be submerged into it). Ensure the temperature of the oil reaches 170°c before adding the pork in batches. Fry the pork for approx 4 minutes either side. The pork cutlets are cooked when the core temperature of the pork reaches 65°c. When cooked remove the pork from the oil and place onto a wire kitchen rack and season lightly with sea salt then allow to rest for 3 minutes.

8. To serve the tonkatsu, divide a generous amount of the drained cabbage into bowls then cut the cutlets into bite sized pieces and place over the cabbage. Add a few spoonfuls of the tonkatsu sauce over the top and nourish. Hope you like this super simple take on tonkatsu!

Additional notes

If you want to skip the brining stage out that is fine, however, it does make the cutlets super moist and tasty when cooked. Instead of pork, you could also use chicken, pork shoulder steaks or even prawns are known as Ebi in Japan. This dish is usually served with tonkatsu bulldog sauce if you can find it, although, I love mustard with tonkatsu. Have fun making this one!


To serve 4
4 pork cutlets
1/2 white cabbage
1/2 brioche loaf
100g panko breadcrumbs
4 eggs
200g plain flour
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp grain mustard
1 tbsp light soy
1 tsp sugar
cooking oil
1000ml water
40g Himalayan sea salt
2 star anise
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
Tonkatsu sauce:
2 tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1/2 white onion
1 tsp Japanese shichimi pepper
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp light soy
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp sugar
200ml water