Tonkatsu (トンカツ) is a Japanese food which consists of a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet. It originated in Japan in the 19th century. As well as being served as a single dish, Tonkatsu is also used as a sandwich filling or with curry. While I don’t think it is as popular as Ramen, Tonkatsu is nevertheless a major dish for Japanese people, and for tourists!
Either a pork fillet or pork loin cut may be used in the Tonkatsu dish, with meat usually being salted, peppered, or dredged lightly in flour, dipped into beaten egg, and then coated with panko bread crumbs before being deep fried. Tonkatsu is seemingly always served with shredded cabbage, and this is what surprised me most when I first started taking in interest in the dish. Whether it be in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, or Hiroshima, I always saw the Tonkatsu served with this shredded cabbage – and coated with sōsu (sauce), karashi (mustard), and perhaps a slice of lemon. It is usually served with rice, miso soup, and tsukemono, and eaten with chopsticks.
In Nagoya and surrounding areas, miso katsu, tonkatsu eaten with a Hatchomiso-based sauce, is a specialty. Variations on tonkatsu may be made by sandwiching an ingredient such as cheese or shiso leaf between the meat, and then breading and frying. For the calorie conscious, konnyaku is sometimes sandwiched in the meat.
Tonkatsu is also popular as a sandwich filling (katsu sando) or served on Japanese curry (katsu karē). Tonkatsu is sometimes served with egg on a big bowl of rice as ‘katsudon’, which I noticed was a very popular fast food snack from convenience stores in Tokyo. However, there’s no doubt that the traditional breaded version from the deep-fat fryer is the tastiest option – and Tonkatsu remains one of my favourite Japanese foods!
May the Pork be with you!