Tonkatsu is a Japanese dish consisting of a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet usually served with shredded cabbage and a tangy sauce.
That is a true statement, and just as accurate as saying a Stradivarius violin plays decent music.
Tonkatsu is the ULTIMATE expression of fried pork, Citizens! The Japanese have elevated and perfected this humble dish and I shall share its gospel with you. Tonkatsu actually originated in Japan in the 19th century and has been wildly popular since it was introduced.
First – the pork should ideally be from a black pig (called Berkshire in the U.S. and U.K. and Kurobota in Japan). This heirloom breed has delicious, juicy meat that is the most flavorful pork you can use – seek it out if you can!
Either a pork fillet (ヒレ hire) or pork loin (ロース rōsu) cut may be used; the meat is usually salted, peppered, dredged lightly in flour, dipped into beaten egg and then coated with panko (bread crumbs) before being deep fried.
Panko (パン粉) is a variety of flaky bread crumb used in Japanese cuisine as a crunchy coating for fried foods, such as tonkatsu.
Panko is made from bread baked by grinding the dough to create fine slivers of crumb, yielding bread without crusts. It has a crisper, airier texture than most types of breading found in Western cuisine and resists absorbing oil or grease when fried, resulting in a lighter coating.
Tonkatsu is always served with shredded cabbage – and with good reason (read all about it at my friend Mona’s blog here!). It just is. It is most commonly eaten with a type of thick Worcestershire sauce called tonkatsu sauce or simply sōsu (sauce) – yesterday’s recipe blew the doors off the ultra-secret recipe for true tonkatsu sauce.
Karashi (mustard) and perhaps a slice of lemon are also provided with the cutlet. It is usually served with rice, miso soup and tsukemono (pickles) and eaten with chopsticks. It may also be served with ponzu sauce (a citrusy sauce served with tempura) and grated daikon radish instead of tonkatsu sauce.
Given my elaborate recipe for Tonkatsu sauce yesterday (which you must try!), you know which side of the divide I fall on, Citizens! 😉
Tonkatsu is not hard to make – the secret is double frying the cutlet for ultimate crispness. Paired with my unmatched sauce, you have a feast worthy of TFD!
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