I think think you could cover just about any food in panko and fry it, and it would turn out delicious. In case you’re not familiar with panko, it’s a Japanese-style breadcrumb. Panko breadcrumbs are bigger, airier and fluffier than American or European breadcrumbs, with a flake-like shape. They don’t absorb a lot of oil, so they make a perfect light, crispy coating for breaded pork katsu, or tonkatsu.
Katsu means cutlet in Japanese, and tonkatsu means pork cutlet. Chicken katsu, or torikatsu, is also popular. Tonkatsu was developed in Japan in the 19th century, when Japanese chefs wanted to create their own version of European pork schnitzel.
You can make pork katsu with thin-sliced pork loin or pork sirloin chops. These are inexpensive and easy to find in most grocery stores.Choose a cut that has a little bit of marbling, so your katsu will be juicy and not dry inside.
You want boneless chops that are about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick. If the chops are too thick, they will not cook through. If you have thick chops, you can pound them thinner. Even if your chops are already thin, you may want to pound them lightly to tenderize them.
Season the pork chops lightly with salt and pepper, and set them aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
Preparing pork katsu is a simple three-step process. Dip the pork cutlets first in seasoned flour, then in beaten egg, then in panko breadcrumbs. The breaded cutlets are fried in canola oil or another light oil until brown and crispy.
I usually fry pork katsu using my T-fal self-cleaning deep fryer, one of my absolute favorite kitchen gadgets. It keeps the oil at the exact right temperature, which helps the crumb coating stay light and crispy, rather than greasy. The thing I love about this deep fryer is that when you’re done frying, the oil passes through a filter and into a storage tank so you can use it again. I only use my deep fryer once or twice a month, but I really do love it. I got very excited when I saw the same model used on “Master Chef” and “The Great British Baking Show.”
You can also make katsu pork in a frying pan, in about 1/3 inch of oil over medium-high heat. If you have a good quality instant-read food thermometer, like the Thermapen MK4 or the Thermopop, it will help you keep the oil at the right temperature.
Fry your breaded pork cutlets for about four minutes, or until they are a medium golden brown. Pork should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees.
Serve your katsu pork with tonkatsu sauce, or Japanese barbecue sauce. It’s a mixture of ketchup, brown sugar, and soy sauce, with a few “secret ingredients” that give it extra zing. I’ve tried a bunch of different recipes for tonkatsu sauce, and this one is by far my favorite. If you would rather buy authentic Japanese tonkatsu sauce already made, Bull Dog Tonkatsu Sauce is a popular brand.
There’s a reason pork katsu has been popular for almost 200 years. Who doesn’t love a juicy pork chop with a light, crispy crumb coating? This recipe is easy and quick enough for a weeknight dinner, and fancy enough for company. It takes only five ingredients to make, plus salt and pepper. I hope you and your family will love it!
Japanese Pork Katsu (Tonkatsu)
- For the pork:
- 6 thin-sliced pork loin or sirloin chops
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- Salt and black pepper for seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 1/2 cups Panko bread crumbs
- Canola oil or other light oil for frying
For the sauce:
- ½ cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon allspice optional
- Trim excess fat from the pork chops. Cover the chops with plastic wrap, and pound with a meat mallet, working from the center outwards, until they are 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick.
- Season the chops lightly with salt and pepper, and set aside.
In a shallow dish or pie plate, mix the flour, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. In another dish, beat the 2 eggs with 2 tablespoons water. In a third dish, place the panko bread crumbs.
- Dip each piece of pork first in flour, then in egg, then in breadcrumbs, pressing to make sure the pork is well coated.
*Deep fryer cooking instructions:* Preheat the oil in the deep fryer to 375 degrees.
- Cook 2 chops at a time in the hot oil for about 4 minutes until medium golden brown and cooked through.
- *Stovetop cooking instructions:*
- Heat about 1/3 inch of canola oil in a large skillet over medium high heat to about 375 degrees. If you don't have a frying thermometer, you can test the temperature of the oil by putting in a one-inch cube of bread. If it browns in about 50 seconds, the oil is the right temperature.
- Fry the pork 2-3 pieces at a time, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until medium golden brown and cooked through.
- Prepare the Japanese barbecue sauce (tonkatsu sauce) by whisking together all ingredients thoroughly.
- Serve katsu pork with Japanese barbecue sauce and steamed rice. Shredded cabbage is also a traditional accompaniment to this dish.