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Let’s just get this out of the way at the start – I am not Japanese and this recipe may well stray from traditional methods. There is an abundance of excellent authentic Japanese recipes online that are well worth reading through if you want to recreate the authentic katsu experience.
That being said, I’m sharing my experience of making pork katsu with tonkatsu sauce because it turned out really well, was extremely easy and was delicious! One of the things we Australians like to do is take the most amazing food from all over the world and reproduce it, often with small adaptations to suit our tastes or availability of ingredients. I’m definitely not saying we make things better (nothing will ever compare to my experience of eating the real deal in small diners all over Japan), but we make them suit our circumstances.
For this recipe, I’m skipping the traditional deep-frying in favour of new-fangled air frying. I’m also sharing my “revelation” on the panko bread crumb (at the end of the post).
But first, (because I hate blog recipes where you have to infinitely scroll through a life story before getting to the good stuff) the recipe:
- 4 pork scotch fillets (see below for more information)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Enough all-purpose flour to coat pork
- Panko breadcrumbs (see below for more information)
- Vegetable oil spray
- Air Fryer (shameless plug for the awesome Ninja Foodi Grill)
- Food processor (if making panko breadcrumbs) (equally shameless plug for the Breville Kitchen Wizz 8 Plus)
- Meat tenderizer
- Food thermometer
- Preheat air fryer (approximately 200 C).
- Beat the eggs and vegetable oil together until combined and place in a wide bowl.
- Place flour and panko breadcrumbs in separate wide bowls or plates.
- Use the meat tenderizer to gently flatten the pork. We are not talking paper-thin here. Just whack it enough to release some lockdown-induced stress and then move on with life.
- Dip each pork fillet into the egg, then coat in flour, then back in egg, then panko breadcrumbs. Ensure pork is completely coated.
- Cook pork katsu in air fryer. I used a twice-fried method and it worked really well in the Ninja Foodi Grill –
a. Lightly spray coated pork with oil
b. Place two fillets in air fryer for ten minutes at 200 C, turning once after five minutes
c. Take out and repeat for remaining two pork fillets
d. Turn temperature down on air fryer to 170 C. Cook first two fillets again (you may want to lightly re-spray with oil) for approximately 11 minutes, turning once. Cook until food thermometer shows desired internal temperature
e. Repeat with remaining fillets
f. Rest pork katsu for 5-10 minutes
Serve with rice, vegetables, pickles and store-bought or homemade tonkatsu sauce (recipe below).
- Approximately 3 tablespoons tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon mirin
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 clove garlic, minced
Mix all the ingredients together.
There are a thousand different variations of the tonkatsu sauce recipe online. This one worked for me, and tasted pretty good, but it is by no means the definitive version. I substituted grated ginger and minced garlic for the powdered versions, because that’s what I had. Experiment with options until you find your perfect combination, because that way you get to eat more tonkatsu sauce.
Things you should know
About my choice of cut
Traditionally, a boneless pork cutlet trimmed of fat is used to make katsu. I used what I had, which was scotch fillet, and it worked really well. The texture was a bit different due to the distribution of fat throughout the fillet, but it was cheap, super tender and everyone in the family thought it was delicious.
About Panko Breadcrumbs
I have known that panko breadcrumbs were the (not-so-secret) secret to crispy fried Japanese food for a long time. I have even cooked with them before as they are readily available in local supermarkets. However, I don’t regularly stock them in my pantry as I don’t use them often enough.
When I decided to have a crack at making pork katsu, panko breadcrumbs were the obvious hurdle to overcome. Every recipe I looked at said they were a must have, and I knew it was true. Without panko, the katsu becomes a regular old schnitzel. I’m not knocking schnitzel, I love schnitzel, but I wanted katsu! The difference it subtle, but it is real.
The good news is that panko breadcrumbs are ridiculously easy to make. Even better, I discovered that there are two types of panko crumbs – a dried version (kanso panko) and a slightly moist version (nama panko). For pork katsu, apparently the moist version is the better version and it can be made by taking about 4 slices of day-old bread and using the grater attachment of a food processor to shred them.
The only bread I had on had was Woolies wholegrain in the freezer. I’m no expert, but the frozen bread shredded particularly well in my Breville Kitchen Wizz 8 Plus. The result looked just like a moist version of the panko crumbs I know and love. It worked surprisingly well as the coating for my katsu.
If you want the dried version of panko, the next step is to place them in the over for approximately ten minutes, until crispy but not coloured. That is important as the change in colour happens during the frying process. I didn’t try drying them, because I had no need.
It is fair to say I will never bother buying panko breadcrumbs again. They are ridiculously easy to make and I was very happy with the result.
About using an air fryer
Pork katsu was only the second dish that I had ever cooked in my brilliant new Ninja Foodi Grill (review coming soon). With any new appliance there is a learning curve, but what I have found with the Foodi Grill is that it is particularly easy to get the hang of. I was thrilled with the results from my first attempt, but I will continue to tweak the temperatures and timing slightly until I achieve katsu perfection! I will update this recipe once I have fine-tuned it, but for now, the results make it still well worth following. Feel free to experiment yourself, and send me any tips if you discover the perfect settings!
Feel free to season your meat
There was a time that I would have included salt and pepper in this recipe without even thinking about it. But now, I really have to focus on making food that is suitable for a one year old. Added salt is to be avoided unless absolutely necessary.
To be honest, this katsu tasted great even without the salt and pepper. But if you want to season your meat prior to coating go for it! It will taste even better – that is the nature of salt!