How to Make Tonkatsu

The first Japanese dish I learned to eat was tempura. In the 80s, when Japanese cuisine wasn’t as prevalent in Manila as it is now, tempura was probably the definitive Japanese dish. It was the only thing I’d order as a gradeschooler. So it’s understandable that trying a new dish out, Tonkatsu, was an exciting concept.

Now, years later, I know that Tonkatsu is just a Japanese version of porkchops, everything’s demystified. Still, that doesn’t lessen the tonkatsu love. I mean, you guys have probably noticed how often I do tonkatsu bentos—love definitely. So to fellow tonkatsu lovers, here’s a quick, step-by-step guide to demystifying this ubiquitous Japanese staple.


Tonkatsu in a Bento (#86)

While there’s already a recipe entry dedicated to it, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to do a walkthrough as well, just to stress how easy it is to make.

02Start off with some pork fillets. What I usually use is the butterfly-cut porkloin. I just split it down the center, then trim the fat. Don’t worry if it’s too small, because you’re going to flatten it with a mallet.

03Using a meat tenderizer or the blunt end of your knife, flatten the pork fillet until it’s considerably thinner and larger. The fillet on the left is before, the one on the right is after. Notice the difference?

04Dust them liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.

05Now we start with the triumvirate of Japanese-style breading. Roll your fillet in flour.

06Dip in a beaten egg.

07Then in panko, Japanese-style breadcrumbs. It’s likely that you’ll get gummy fingers from all the dipping. To lessen the gumminess, use one hand for handling the dry dipping and the other for wet. It’s not going to totally prevent the build-up but it’ll take longer before you’ll need to wash your fingers.

08That’s it! You can now fry them in oil, or freeze in a freezer-safe container. If you’re freezing, I recommend lining each layer with wax paper to prevent them from sticking. When frying from frozen, no need to defrost. Just keep your oil on medium heat to let it cook through.

Serve with tonkatsu sauce and lots of freshly steamed rice. Enjoy!

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26 Responses to How to Make Tonkatsu

  1. Drew says:

    First Comment! XD
    The first Japanese dish I’ve tried was Gyudon back when my parents were working from Gift Gate, they took me to the opening day of Tokyo-tokyo back in 1986.

  2. Tony Lou says:

    wow! it’s so easy when one takes time to do it. i think most people upon hearing the word tonkatsu would think it’s a very complicated dish to prepare. But based on this entry, it’s obviously very easy to prepare. :o)

    would you recommend that the flour be seasoned, too? would that add to the taste of the tonkatsu or would that just be a waste of time?

  3. abby says:

    there’s a high chance i’ll try this at home! :) great tip on freezing too!

    muchas grasas!

  4. gita says:

    uy! mukang kakayanin ng powers ko a.. i think ill try this one of these days! any suggestions where to get the best tonkatsu sauce? any brand i should look for? i see a lot of tempura sauce and kikkoman, but not tonkatsu eh…

  5. aoitenshi says:

    Yay I love these things of yours. It really helps culinary-challenged me a lot. I will try this soon (makes promise to self).

  6. dementedchris says:

    Thanks for this! Will try to make my own one of these days… plus one 4-ingredient dish 😀

  7. kaoko says:

    Hehe, Tokyo Tokyo memories.

    @Tony Lou
    It is! And great suggestion, I don’t see why the flour can’t be seasoned—we do that for fried chicken after all, why not porkchops?

    You’re welcome 😀 I like making them in big batches, then freezing. Home-made instant food 😛

    I love Bulldog Tonkatsu Sauce. I use the one with the orange label, most Japanese groceries have them. Kikkoman Tonkatsu Sauce is also good, but harder to find.

    Promise, it’s easy. After frying, you can add gobs of curry sauce and turn it into curry-katsu! Three dishes from 2 recipes, ftw 😀

    Go go go! Don’t forget to feed me too.

  8. gita says:

    thanks, sis. ill go find them. 😉

  9. Mila says:

    Wow, Ive never made tonkatsu before, so this was a perfect guide to it. I like the idea posted in the comment above about seasoning it (and varying the seasoning – spicy, savory, herby, garlicky, etc). I wonder if it would maintain it’s panko-crunchiness if it were baked instead of fried?

    • kaoko says:

      A few other bento bloggers have posed the same question. One said that it’s possible but it doesn’t brown as much. I haven’t tried it myself but it would be great if it can be baked and still be crunchy—healthier alternative definitely.

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  14. Kismet says:

    Thank you very much for this Tonkatsu recipe! The pictures did help in making it easier to understand. I wish all recipes are like yours.:) I’ll check out all your recipes, look interestingly delicious! I hope there’s Ebi Tempura recipe, especially how to make the batter and making it stick to the shrimp. I hope you can enlighten me and everybody who is interested in cooking it. Thanks again! God bless.

    • kaoko says:

      That’s great! I’m glad when this post comes useful.

      Unfortunately about Tempura, that’s one thing I haven’t mastered yet (I don’t try cooking it much since it doesn’t work as good for bento) but I’ll try to put one up when I can.

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  16. nick says:

    This looks real easy to make! I think I’ll try it one time. I wonder if it’s ok to use plain breadcrumbs if we don’t have panko?

  17. nick says:

    Oh, and is tonkatsu sauce something you can buy off the shelf?

    • kaoko says:

      How fine is your plain breadcrumbs? I wouldn’t recommend using the super fine ones like the one for pandesal. I’ve always used panko but if you’re up to experimenting, something coarse and dry with a large crumb might be feasible.

      And yes, tonkatsu sauce can be bought ready-made. I love the Bulldog brand one so I usually buy, but if you want to make your own, I have an UNTRIED recipe here:

  18. Marie says:

    i love tonkantso, ty for sharing the recepi

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