Today I’m guest posting at Rasa Malaysia. I was ecstatic when Bee (author of Rasa Malaysia) asked me to make Tonkatsu (Japanese deep fried pork cutlet) for her website. Bee’s site is extremely popular with her countless Asian cuisine recipes and the food photography is simply gorgeous.
Tonkatsu is one of my husband’s favorite Japanese food (which includes yakitori, sushi, shabushabu, and Japanese steak). Whenever we go to Japan, we always make a mandatory stop at Wako or Maisen, popular restaurants specializing in Tonkatsu. Even though there are restaurants focused on Tonkatsu, it is a common home cooked meal as well. Deep frying food might scare some of you away (since it’s messy) and the long recipe might look complicated, but the process is actually very simple. You just need to know a few tricks to make the perfect Tonkatsu, juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside. The key to great Tonkatsu is to double fry the pork. You deep fry once and let the pork sit for a bit, then deep fry again to get the ultimate crispiness.
If there is an Asian grocery store nearby where you live, sometimes they sell waste oil hardener (oil solidifying powder) that allows you to dispose of the used oil easily in garbage. This is what I use to get rid of oil whenever I deep fry.
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- 2 Boneless pork chops (at least ½ inch thickness)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Egg
- ½ Tbsp. oil
- Panko or fresh panko
- Oil for deep frying
- Tonkatsu Sauce (or Homemade Tonkatsu Sauce)
- For Tonkatsu, I highly recommend to use fresh panko (we call it "Nama Panko"). It's fresh bread crumbs not dried one. You can use food processor to make fresh panko from white bread (use only soft part of bread). Or you can spray regular panko with water and leave for 15 minutes. Also, when you select panko, look for packages with bigger crumbs as they are suitable for Tonkatsu.
- Get rid of the extra fat and make a couple of slits on the connective tissue between the meat and fat. The reason why you do this is that red meat and fat have different elasticity, and when they are cooked they will shrink and expand at different rates. This will allow Tonkatus to stay nice and flat when deep frying and prevent Tonkatsu from curling up.
- Pound the meat with a meat pounder, or if you don’t have one then just use the back of knife to pound. When using knife, crisscross by first pounding top to bottom then left to right.
- Mold the extended meat back into original shape with your hands.
- Dust with salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl or plate, add ½ Tbsp. of oil for each egg you use and whisk them up. By adding oil, the meat and breaded coating won’t detach from each other while deep frying.
- Dredge in flour and remove excess flour.
- Dip in egg mixture.
- Dredge in panko. After removing excess panko, press gently. While deep frying panko will “pop up” so at this moment they don’t have to be fluffy.
- Heat oil in a wok over medium high heat and wait till oil gets 350F (180C). If you don’t have a thermometer, stick a chopstick in the oil and see if tinny bubbles start to appear around the tip of the chopstick. Alternatively, you can drop one piece of panko into the oil, and if it sinks down to the middle of oil and comes right up, then that’s around 350F (180C) as well. When the oil reaches to that temperature, gently lower Tonkatsu into the oil. Keep watching the oil’s temperature and make sure it doesn’t go over 350F (180C) or else it’ll look burnt.
- Deep fry for 1 minute on one side and flip to cook the other side for 1 minute. If your pork chop is thinner than ¾ inch, then reduce to 45 seconds for each side.
- Now take the Tonkatsu out and get rid of the oil by holding Tonkatsu vertically for a few seconds. Place on top of wire rack (if wire rack is not available, substitute with paper towel) and let it sit for 4 minutes. The hot oil on exterior is slowly cooking the meat as it sits. Please do not cut to check whether the inside is cooked or not. We need to keep it closed to retain the heat. While waiting, you can scoop up fried crumbs in the oil with mesh strainer.
- After resting for 4 minutes, bring the oil back to 350F (180C) of oil again and deep fry Tonkatsu for 1 minute (about 30 seconds each side).
- Poke the meat with a chopstick and if clear liquid comes out then it’s done. Drain the oil by holding the Tonkatsu vertically again for a few seconds. Then leave it on top of rack/paper towel for 2 minutes. If you have to use paper towel, try to keep Tonkatsu in a vertical position so it does not get soggy on one side.
- Cut Tonkatsu into 3 large pieces (see below) by pressing the knife directly down instead of moving back and forth. This way the breading will not come off. Then cut again in between. Transfer to a plate and serve immediately.