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Katsu Sando カツサンド

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     Crispy juicy pork cutlets sandwiched between soft pillowy Japanese milk bread, this Japanese Katsu Sando is a homey kind of sandwich but downright satisfying! Get over your sandwich ho-hum with this new favorite. 

    Katsu Sando stacked on top of each other.

    You can always find fresh infusions of imagination in the art of Japanese sandwich-making. Sometimes it can be alarmingly attractive like this Wanpaku Sandwich, and sometimes it can be down-home like a Katsu Sando.

    Think of it like a schnitzel sandwich, Katsu Sando is a thing of comfort, with its crispy cutlet-style meat and soft white bread. It’s my husband and son’s favorite lunch choice whenever we are in Japan. They would pick up katsu sando from different shops at the stations and eat on the trains during our long trip. According to them, Katsu Sando is literally the best meal-on-the-go.

    Watch How to Make Katsu Sando

     Crispy juicy pork cutlets sandwiched between soft pillowy Japanese milk bread, this Japanese Katsu Sando is a homey kind of sandwich but downright satisfying! Get over your sandwich ho-hum with this new favorite. 

    What is Katsu Sando?

    Katsu Sando (カツサンド) is short for Katsu Sandwich (カツサンドイッチ). Sandwiches are called Sando in Japan, like Tamago Sando (egg sandwich). For the bread, we almost always use shokupan, Japanese milk bread, for sandwiches. They are tender white bread with a slightly sweet milk taste.

    Katsu refers to Japanese-style pork and chicken “cutlet” coated with panko breadcrumbs and deep fried till golden brown. Pork cutlet is tonkatsu (トンカツ) and chicken cutlet is chicken katsu (チキンカツ). They are a popular menu among Yoshoku, western-influenced Japanese dishes.

    The difference from western style cutlet is that Japanese katsu uses panko (パン粉), the Japanese breadcrumbs, to coat the meat. Panko is made from bread without crusts (some brands include crusts). The light, airy, larger flakes tend to stay crispier longer than standard breadcrumbs because they don’t absorb as much grease. They make the cutlet so much better. I know you can’t wait to bite into the crispy deep fried katsu!

    But what if you don’t want to deep fry? We’ll cover that next.

    Katsu Sando served in the white basket.

    Healthy Alternative Katsu Sando with BAKED Katsu!

    Typically, tonkatsu and chicken katsu are deep-fried to perfection. Considering the disposal of oil, a smelly and messy kitchen, and the fear of deep frying, I know many of you wish you wouldn’t have to go through that and still enjoy katsu. So I made my Katsu Sando with baked Tonkatsu.

    If you are a 100% original Katsu Sando fan, you may continue with deep frying Tonkatsu. I personally don’t mind deep frying just to eat the crispy and juicy tonkatsu myself, but I want to encourage EVERYONE to try this great sandwich without deep frying.

    My method involves pre-toasting panko before baking. If you have tried my Baked Tonkatsu, Baked Chicken Katsu, Baked Korokke, Baked Salmon Katsu, etc, you know the drill.

    Toast the panko in a frying pan with a tiny bit of oil until golden brown. This will ensure you get the perfectly even-color, crispy, golden panko just like the deep-fried panko would look like. It’s easy, and mess free!

    Katsu Sando served in the white basket.

    Ingredients You Need for Katsu Sando

    Now let’s talk about the ingredients you need to prepare Katsu Sando. They are pretty simple.

    • Tonkatsu (or Chicken Katsu)
      • Pork loin chops (or chicken breast/thigh/tender)
      • Salt and pepper
      • Panko – I used Kikkoman® Panko Japanese-style BreadcrumbsBuy on Amazon ()
      • Neutral flavored oil (just a little bit)
      • Egg
      • All-purpose flour
    • Shokupan (the Japanese-style Pullman bread or any soft white bread)
    • Butter
    • Dijon mustard
    • Tonkatsu sauce – I used Kikkoman® Katsu Sauce (Buy on Amazon)
    • Optional: Thinly shredded cabbage (not all Katsu Sando include it)
    Kikkoman Panko and Katsu Sauce
    Kikkoman® Panko Japanese-style Breadcrumbs and Kikkoman® Katsu Sauce, which may be available at the Asian food aisle in your local grocery stores.

    3 Useful Tips to Make Perfect Katsu Sando

    1. Don’t skip the butter

    If you want to prevent the bread from becoming soggy, it’s a must to spread butter on both sides of the bread to act as a waterproof safeguard. It doesn’t have to be a lot but even a thin layer will help!

    2. Don’t skimp on Tonkatsu sauce

    Tonkatsu sauce is a key flavor in Katsu Sando. I used to just put the sauce on the cutlet alone, but I learned that spreading the Tonkatsu Sauce on the bread and shredded cabbage makes a huge difference.

    3. Put weight on the sandwich

    Make sure the Tonkatsu is nicely hugged between the shokupan bread. In Japan, putting weight on the sandwich is a pretty standard method prior to cutting in half. You don’t want the ingredients to fall off from the sandwich, so I highly recommend doing this. Since Tonkatsu is situated in the center, I suggest using two plates on top and bottom to keep both shokupan and tonkatsu snugged from both sides.

    Katsu Sando held between hands and about to be enjoyed.

    Hope you enjoy the sandwich! Other sandwich choices you may be interested in…

    Katsu Sando stacked on top of each other.

    Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.

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    4.84 from 18 votes
    Katsu Sando stacked on top of each other.
    Katsu Sando
    Prep Time
    20 mins
    Cook Time
    30 mins
    Total Time
    50 mins

    Crispy juicy pork cutlets sandwiched between soft pillowy bread, this Japanese Katsu Sando is a homey kind of sandwich but downright satisfying! Get over your sandwich ho-hum with this new favorite. 

    Course: Main Course
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: sandwich, tonkatsu
    Servings: 2
    Author: Namiko Chen
    • 1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) (I use Kikkoman® Panko Bread Crumbs)
    • 1 ½ Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, canola, etc)
    • 2 boneless pork loin chops (½ inch thick) (½ lb or 227 g each)
    • ½ tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; Use half for table salt)
    • freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour (plain flour)
    • 1 egg
    • 1 leaf cabbage (1.4 oz, 40 g)
    • 4 slices shokupan (Japanese pullman loaf bread)
    • 2 tsp unsalted butter
    • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
    • 4 Tbsp tonkatsu sauce (I used Kikkoman® Katsu Sauce in this recipe)
    1. Gather all the ingredients.
      Katsu Sando Ingredients
    Toast the Panko
    1. In a large frying pan, add 1 cup panko and 1 ½ Tbsp of oil and turn the heat to medium to medium-high.
      Katsu Sando 1
    2. Lift the pan and shake it once in a while to evenly toast the panko.
      Katsu Sando 2
    3. Once the panko is getting darker, keep shaking the pan to get even color. Once the panko is nicely brown, transfer to the tray.

      Katsu Sando 3
    Prepare the Tonkatsu
    1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). For a convection oven, reduce cooking temperature by 25ºF (15ºC).

    2. Remove 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 Tonkatsu to stay nice and flat when deep frying and prevent it from curling up.
      Katsu Sando 4
    3. Pound the meat with a meat pounder. If you don’t have one, just use the back of a knife to pound. When using a knife, crisscross by first pounding top to bottom then left to right.
      Katsu Sando 5
    4. Mold the extended meat back into original shape with your hands. Season the meat with salt and pepper.
      Katsu Sando 6
    5. 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.

      Katsu Sando 7
    6. Dredge in flour and remove excess flour.
      Katsu Sando 8
    7. Dip in egg mixture. Dredge in panko.
      Katsu Sando 9
    8. Press panko onto the meat and transfer to the baking sheet lined with parchment paper or even better if you have an oven-safe wire rack (as air goes through on the bottom so panko doesn’t get crushed).
      Katsu Sando 10
    9. Bake at 400ºF (200ºC) until the pork is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove the tonkatsu from the oven.

      Katsu Sando 11
    Assembly of the Katsu Sando
    1. Thinly shred the cabbage leaf.
      Katsu Sando 12
    2. Spread the butter on both bread slices (butter would act as a waterproof guard so sandwich doesn’t get soggy). Spread Dijon mustard on top of butter on one side.

      Katsu Sando 13
    3. Spread the Katsu Sauce on the other side.
      Katsu Sando 14
    4. Put the thinly shredded cabbage evenly on the Dijon mustard side. Then drizzle Katsu Sauce over the cabbage.
      Katsu Sando 15
    5. Place the tonkatsu on top of the cabbage and top with the other bread. Place the sandwich between two plates for 5 minutes.
      Katsu Sando 16
    6. Cut off the crust of the bread and cut in half.

      Katsu Sando 18
    7. Serve the Katsu Sando on a plate or box.

      Katsu Sando 19

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