Tonkatsu (Japanese Fried Pork Cutlet) / by Cynthia Raub

Print Friendly and PDF

Tonkatsu is a western-influenced Japanese dish that most would consider as comfort food. Similar to German wiener schnitzel, it is merely fried pork cutlets with a crumb coating. Tonkatsu is traditionally served over thinly sliced green cabbage with a side of hot yellow mustard and tonkatsu sauce, a fruit and vegetable based sauce (similar to a thickened and sweet Worcestershire sauce). Home-frying might be daunting, but I assure you that this recipe is not. Crank up your vent, prepare a few extra dishes for the dredging process, and make sure you have a handful of paper towels available. 

My mom makes this at home when she is feeding a group of people - it is inexpensive, delicious and easy. She will send leftovers home with me, which we will rewarm in the oven, (or just eat cold,) and it's one of the dishes that initially inspired me to share meals with the people I care about.

Notes: The three-step dredging process is crucial for this recipe and type of frying. Your diligence will result in tremendously flavorful and moist fried pork cutlets. This is a messy process, but it yields great results. If you don't like your fingers to get sticky, you can use tongs to grasp the pork while you coat the chops. BUT! Cooking is supposed to be a little messy and not to mention, you have more control when you use your hands. You can also substitute chicken (skinless, boneless, filleted thigh meat) for the pork, which will give you chicken katsu. I prefer a shallow fry for this dish because it's easier to clean up and just as effective as deep frying. The pork is thin and cooks quickly, so deep frying is not necessary to save time in this instance. If you happen to have any leftover tonkatsu, have your hand at Katsudon: an incredible remix of an already delicious dish.

Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4

1 1/2 lbs pork loin chops, 3/4"-1" thick
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
Kosher salt, divided
Fresh ground black pepper
Vegetable oil

Depending on the size of your pork loin chops, place 2-4 in a gallon freezer bag and close halfway. On a sturdy and flat surface, pound the pork loin chops into 1/2" thick cutlets.

Prepare three shallow dishes for the dredging process. In the first dish, combine 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. In the second dish, beat eggs with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. In the third dish, combine panko breadcrumbs and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.

Season pork lightly with salt and pepper. Taking the first cutlet, dredge it in the seasoned flour - coating all sides evenly. Once the pork is coated in flour, carefully dip it into the beaten egg mixture, coating the flour evenly with the egg. Then quickly dredge the flour and egg covered pork into the breadcrumbs for its final seasoning. Pat the pork slightly to make sure all of the breadcrumbs are adhered to the pork. Set aside on a large plate, and continue the process with the remaining pork.

Fill a medium to large skillet (with high, straight sides) with 1/2" vegetable oil. Turn heat to medium and allow the pan and oil to heat through about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare a large plate or cooling rack with two layers of paper towels (to absorb oil from the fried pork).

Once the oil is heated through, place a pork chop into the oil, carefully releasing it away from yourself to avoid splashing oil. If there is enough room in your pan, you can cook multiple pork cutlets simultaneously. Just be sure not to crowd the pan and that each pork cutlet is evenly submerged in the oil.

Fry the pork until the first side is golden brown about 2 minutes. Flip the pork over and continue to cook until golden brown and cooked through - about another 2-3 minutes. Remove the pork from the cooking oil and place it on the paper towels to drain. Continue cooking the remaining pork in the same fashion. Slice into 1/2" strips and enjoy!

Serve with: steamed rice, thinly sliced cabbage, tonkatsu sauce