Dish Stories

Tonkatsu | とんかつ

Origin - Japan

#Crispy #Juicy #Fried #Comfortfood

crispy tonkatsu and cabbage
The word tonkatsu is a combination of the word ton (pig) and katsu (cutlet).

Tonkatsu is a deep fried Japanese pork cutlet and one of the many popular dishes in Japan. The pork loin is dipped in a batter of flour and egg, evenly coated with breadcrumbs, deep-fried, and then served in a variety of different dishes. The combination of juicy pork and the crunchy texture of the breadcrumb-coating is very addicting.

[ Fun Facts ]

In its simplest form, Tonkatsu is served with finely chopped cabbage and Tonkatsu sauce. However, it is also popular as part of other dishes too!


This is the most popular way of enjoying Tonkatsu! The tonkatsu is cooked in a sweet soy sauce, onions, dashi (Japanese soup stock) and then lightly beaten egg is added to coat the Tonkatsu. All of this is poured over steamed rice and garnished with green onions. The flavors of the dashi and Tonkatsu blend really well with the lightness of the eggs and the fluffy white rice underneath!

Katsu Burger

Japanese people love mimicking Western culture that they created the Katsu Burger! Tonkatsu is a great alternative to beef patties and is served between two soft buns with finely sliced cabbage and Tonkatsu sauce.

Katsu Curry

Mmmm, Tonkatsu with curry! Steamed white rice and thick curry is topped with a large piece of cripsy Tonkatsu. Sometimes the curry is poured all over the rice and Tonkatsu instead. This dish is very popular among young people in Japan because you get a lot of food for the price!

[ History ]

Prior to the introduction of Buddhism, the Japanese hunted all types of animals to eat, including wild boars. But with the establishment of Buddhism becoming the country’s official religion, attitudes towards consumption of meat changed. The Imperial Court deemed the killing and eating of meat as disgraceful and various restrictions were put into place. Hunting creatures with four legs were frowned upon, and sometimes even two legs as well (Fish was acceptable!).

However, pork was not shunned by all. During the Sengoku period, during the 15th and 16th centuries, the warlords of Satsuma named pigs “Walking Vegetables” and apparently had believed that their meat would give them superhuman strength and stamina!

Meiji Emperor Family Painting
The Meiji Emperor of Japan and the imperial family, by Torajirō Kasai, 1900

During the Meiji era, Emperor Meiji – in his hopes for Japan to become a more modern country, encouraged Western influence to lead the way for development. It was this Western influence that introduced pork and deep frying into Japanese cuisine, and since then the dish has been used in interesting variations that include chicken, fish, and vegetables. The pork version which became known as Tonkatsu was first served in Japan in 1899 at a restaurant called Rengatei in Tokyo.


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