Deep frying food at home might scare some of you away (since it can be 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 buy good quality, nicely marbled pork chops and to double fry the pork. You deep fry the breaded pork chop once and then let it drain and cool for a bit, and then deep fry again for ultimate crispiness. I served my finished, sliced tonkatsu on top of fresh shredded cabbage with a big bowl or steamed rice, fresh refrigerator pickles, extra katsu sauce on the side, and an ice-cold Sapporo. This recipe makes two servings.
- 2 boneless pork chops (at least ½ inch thickness)
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 egg
- ½ tablespoon oil
- fresh panko*
- oil for deep frying
- tonkatsu sauce
* For tonkatsu, I recommend you use fresh panko (“Nama Panko”, it’s fresh bread crumbs not dried one. You can find it in Japanese or other Asian markets). If you can’t find fresh panko, you can come close by lightly spritzing regular supermarket panko with water and letting it sit for 15 minutes. When shopping for panko, look for packages with bigger flakes as they are more suitable for tonkatsu.
- Trim off any excess 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 tonkatsu from curling up.
- Pound the meat with a meat mallet, 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 tablespoon 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.
last updated August 17, 2023