Ham Katsu ハムカツ – ‘Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories’

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  • Crispy panko on the outside and delicious black forest ham on the inside, Ham Katsu is the simplest cutlet you can make with easy-to-get ingredients. Inspired by the Japanese drama – Midnight Diner.

    Crispy Ham Katsu on a plate with Japanese potato salad and cabbage.

    Have you tasted an amazing dish that is made out of super simple ingredient, like slices of ham found in the corner of your refrigerator? Enter Ham Katsu (ハムカツ).

    What is Ham Katsu?

    It’s a deep fried cutlet made with slices of ham that are coated with flour, egg, and Japanese panko, and deep fried till golden color.  It’s such a humble dish, yet there’s something downright satisfactory about biting through the crisp layer of golden-brown breading and salty-savory ham.

    If you are a fan of Tonkatsu and Chicken Katsu, you have to give this Ham Katsu a try. Whether you serve it as a main meal or as an appetizer with cold beer, I know that this will be your next favorite dish.

    This Ham Katsu recipe is featured on the popular Japanese TV drama called “Shinya Shokudo (深夜食堂)” or “Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories” on Netflix.

    Midnight Diner features dishes that are more representative of Japanese home cooked recipes that you might not have seen in your local Japanese restaurants.  “Hamu Katsu” episode is Season 1, Episode 9 on Netflix.

    When I saw the master made Ham Katsu with just slices of ham, I knew I had to head over to the kitchen and make it. My mother makes Ham Katsu, but her version, the one I grew up eating, is more complicated and time consuming. Hers came with Japanese Potato Salad between slices of ham. It’s really delicious, but it requires more effort and time since you need to prepare the potato salad first (unless you have leftover).

    Midnight Diner’s Ham Katsu is much simpler and easier to make than my mother’s, yet my family LOOOOOVED it. Since then I’ve been buying hams for this dish, then I use the leftover to make ham and eggs or Japanese Potato Salad.

    I love that I can whip up a dinner in less than 30 minutes.  My children love this dish in their lunch box too, and they love Onigiriazu with Ham Katsu.

    Holding a slice of crispy Ham Katsu with chopstick.

    3 Tips to Make Delicious Ham Katsu

    1. Use thinly sliced hams

    I have tried both thick and thin slices of ham.  I thought Mr. JOC would like thick slice cut of the ham for this dish, but surprisingly, stacking up two thin slices (each slice is about 2 mm or 0.08 inch) of ham work much better to achieve the overall crispiness. And it’s more economical too.

    2. Fluff up panko 

    I’ve used this trick in my Tonkatsu recipe with execellent result.  By spraying panko with water, it revives the panko and creates this fluffy texture.  Yes, it’s an additional step with additional tool, but if you’re particular about crispiness of panko, I know you’d be happy with this extra step. 😉

    3. Must deep fry (shallow fry is okay!)

    I know some of you are wondering if you can make this dish like my Baked Tonkatsu, Baked Chicken Katsu, or Baked Korokke.  Trust me, I did try.  But the result is not as good as deep fry version.

    The good news is you can “shallow” fry the kastu with one inch of oil in your frying pan instead of deep frying.  You also don’t need to worry if the ham is cooked through or not as it is ready to eat. The frying allows the panko to cook through until crunchy and golden.

    Crispy Ham Katsu on a plate with Japanese potato salad and cabbage.

    Serve these extra crispy ham katsu with a nest of shredded raw cabbage, a side of salad, Japanese mustard and a sweet fruity Tonkatsu sauce. Steamed rice is optional.  I hope this will be your next favorite weeknight dish!

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    5 from 3 votes
    Ham Katsu ハムカツ | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com
    Ham Katsu
    Prep Time
    15 mins
    Cook Time
    15 mins
    Total Time
    30 mins
    Crispy panko on the outside and delicious black forest ham on the inside, Ham Katsu is the simplest cutlet you can make with easy-to-get ingredients. Inspired by the Japanese drama – Midnight Diner.
    Course: Main Course
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: crispy katsu, easy, panko
    Servings: 4 Ham Katsu
    1. Gather all the ingredients.
      Ham Katsu Ingredients
    2. Stack two slices of ham and season with freshly ground black pepper.

      Ham Katsu 2
    3. This is an optional step.  To increase the fluffy and crispy texture of panko, spray some water on panko and fluff it up with hands.

      Ham Katsu 1
    4. Dip the ham into the flour, then shake off the excess. Next, run the ham through the egg to coat it on both sides.
      Ham Katsu 3
    5. Finally, lay the ham in the panko, turn it over and gently press it into the breading to coat. When you deep fry, panko will become fluffy again so don’t worry about pressing it.
      Ham Katsu 4
    6. Add the oil in a heavy-bottom pot and heat the oil to 340F (170C). You will at least need 1 inch of oil.  You can check the temperature by inserting wooden chopsticks. When small bubbles appear around the chopsticks, the oil is ready. Or throw a piece of panko into the oil.  If the panko immediately comes right back to the surface, oil is ready.  Read more on How To Deep Fry Food.

      Ham Katsu 5
    7. Gently drop the panko-coated ham in the oil and deep fry for 1 minute on the bottom side. Try to maintain the oil temperature by adjusting the heat. If you’re new to deep frying, a deep fry thermometer is helpful.
      Ham Katsu 6
    8. Once the bottom side is nice golden brown, flip and cook for about 45 seconds on the other side. Drain the excess oil and remove from the pot.
      Ham Katsu 7
    9. Transfer to the wire rack or plate lined with paper towel. Before you start the next batch, always pick up the crumbs in the oil (they will darken the oil)
      Ham Katsu 8
    10. Once they are cool enough to handle, cut in half and serve immediately. Today I served with shredded cabbage, tomato wedges, and Japanese potato salad, just like how it was served in the drama Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories. Garnish with parsley. Put a small amount of Japanese karashi mustard on the plate.
      Ham Katsu 9
    Recipe Notes

    Tonkatsu Sauce: Click here for homemade recipe.


    Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

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