When you serve super crunchy & juicy Japanese pork cutlet over a bed of steamed rice and shredded cabbage, you get this Crispy Tonkatsu Donburi. A rice bowl that will get everyone to the kitchen table in seconds! Drizzle with Japanese mayo and tonkatsu sauce as you like.
When I was little, I wasn’t a big meat eater and I had a hard time swallowing a big chunk of meat. As attentive and amenable as a mom can be, my mother made this Crispy Tonkatsu Donburi (クリスピーとんかつ丼ぶり) instead of regular Tonkatsu for me. Even though I have longer any problem chewing my meat, I continue to make this dish to my family as the cutlets have a lighter and crispier texture which we enjoy very much.
Use “Shabu Shabu Pork” Meat for Crispy Tonkatsu
Tonkatsu is usually made of a piece of thick cut pork chop, breaded and then deep fried. To make ultra crispy tonkatsu, the trick is to stack up a few thinly sliced pork loins to make thin-cut meat. These thinly sliced pork loins are specifically prepared for “shabu shabu” which is a type of Japanese hot pot dish. You can find them at Japanese or Asian grocery stores and look for packages like the one pictured below where they are labeled as “for shabu shabu (しゃぶしゃぶ用)”.
Using thinly sliced pork is much more economical than using a pork chop because you don’t need as much meat for one serving. If you find the thinly sliced pork for Sukiyaki, the you can use one slice per Tonkatsu or use 2 slices for one Tonkatsu.
Difference between Tonkatsu made with Pork Chop and Thinly-Sliced Shabu Shabu Meat
Both Ton (pork) Katsu (cutlet) are equally delicious. The difference comes down to the matter of preparation and textural styles. Tonkatsu made with shabu shabu meat is thinner and crispier, and it cooks a lot faster too. You will only need a very small amount of oil to deep fry, so it’s much easier to clean. Regular Tonkatsu is juicier and more satisfying as you bite into the thick juicy meat. When I prepare regular Tonkatsu, I usually give the piece of pork chop some trimming and light pounding before coating it with egg mixture and the panko breadcrumb. With the shabu shabu meat, you don’t need to trim or pound the meat at all.
If you have young children at home, this thin-cut style tonkatsu will be their favorite. It is simple enough for any busy parents to make when the kids ask for fried food. It is also a good choice if you prefer to cook with less oil. Follow the steps in the recipe, you will get some really juicy tontaksu with an irresistible crust. Get your steamed rice ready in the bowl, pile with a bed of shredded cabbage, and then place the tonkatsu on top before you drizzle in the sweet brown sauce. I like to serve this Crispy Tonkatsu Donburi alongside with miso soup, but that’s optional.
Crispy Tonkatsu Donburi
- ¾ lb thinly sliced pork loin (I used thinly sliced "pork for shogayaki/ginger pork" from a Japanese grocery store)
- ⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
- ½ cup all-purpose flour (plain flour)
- 2 large eggs (50 g each w/o shell) (beaten)
- 1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 1 cup neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, rice bran, canola, etc)
- cooked Japanese short-grain rice
- 2 leaves cabbage (cut into julienned strips)
- Japanese mayonnaise
- tonkatsu sauce (for homemade tonkatsu sauce recipe, click here)
- pickled red ginger (beni shoga or kizami beni shoga)
- green onions/scallions
- Gather all the ingredients. I use thinly sliced pork for shogayaki (ginger pork), which is slightly thicker than thinly sliced pork for shabu shabu. If you only have shabu shabu meat, you need to layer the pork with 2-3 slices.
- Sprinkle salt and pepper on the meat. Then dip each slice of meat into the flour first, then dip in egg, and finally coat it with Panko.
- In a large non-stick frying pan, heat ½ inch of oil on medium-high heat. Check how to deep fry food ifyou are not familiar with deep frying techniques.
- When it’s hot, put 2 pieces, laying it flat. Turn over when the bottom side is browned.
- When both sides are cooked and golden brown, remove the meat from the oil and place it on paper towels.
- Serve rice in a Donburi bowl and spread cabbages over the top. Crisscross the cabbage with Japanese mayonnaise.
- When Tonkatsu cools down a bit, cut it into half-inch strips crosswise. Place the meat on top of cabbage and drizzle with a bit of Tonkatsu sauce. Enjoy!
Editor’s Note: The post was originally published on March 21, 2011. The post was updated with new images in July 2018.