Japanese Crisp Breaded Pork Cutlets

January 3, 2014

Tonkatsu is often served on a plate with shredded cabbage, but I made these today as sandwiches. Chris Kimball’s recipe using a familiar assembly-line technique of 3 pie plates, but he uses cornstarch instead of typical flour. While my two sons loved the recipe, rating it 4-1/2 stars, it seems to me that Cook’s Illustrated specifically designed this recipe to make the biggest possible mess in my kitchen in the shortest amount of time. While good, I didn’t think it was sufficiently special to justify the huge mess. So I only rate it 3-stars.

Big mess not worth the average meal

Big mess not worth the average meal


  1. My supermarket was only selling boneless, center-cut, pork loin chops in 8-packs for $14. Instead, I bought the bone-in variety for $6, and de-boned the chops myself, which only took a few minutes. My bone-in chops included both the loin and tenderloin muscles, but because Chris Kimball had a variation of this recipe using the tenderloin I used the meat from both muscles. Whereas I pounded the loin muscle to 3/8″, I left the tenderloin at 1/2″ thickness.
  2. I bought the bone-in chops based upon cost, so wanted to give you a breakdown for a cost comparison. The weight of the bone-in chops breaks down as follows: 50% boneless loin, 20% tenderloin, 30% bones/other waste. The boneless chops were $4.29/lb, where the bone-in were $1.99/lb. If I were to have only used the loin, my meat would have been $4.06/lb. Using both loin and tenderloin my meat cost me $2.98/lb.
  3. The original recipe calls for 3 cups of Panko, but I reduced the recipe below for two reasons. Firstly, 3-cups of bread crumbs do not fit in a pie plate, so the bread crumbs spilled onto my counter-top as I tried to cover the chops in step 5. Secondly, didn’t use anything close to 3-cups of panko.
  4. The original sauce recipe was double that which I’ve shown below. The reduced amount that I give should more closely correspond to how much you will actually use today.
  5. The $10 price tag includes hamburger buns. Actually, I bough some beautiful, super-size buns (24-ounces per 8-pack instead of the typical 12-ounces). Without the buns, the recipe would cost $8.50.

Rating: 3-stars.
Cost: $10
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  High.
Start time 5:15 PM. Dinner time 6:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here, and the original recipe for the sauce is here. The descriptions of how I prepared everything today are given below:

Pork Cutlet Ingredients:
2-cups panko breadcrumbs
1/3-cup cornstarch
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup vegetable oil
6 boneless, center-cut pork loin chops.
Hamburger Buns (optional)

  1. Set a rack to the lower/middle of your oven and pre-heat oven to 200-degrees. Set a large heat-proof plate (such as Pyrex casserole dish) in your oven.
  2. Prepare 3 pie plates as follows: (Plate 1) 1/3-cup cornstarch, (Plate 2) 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, mixed together. (Plate 3) 2-cups panko breadcrumbs.
  3. Trim away and discard the silver skin and fat from your pork. Use a meat pounder until your pork an even 3/8″-inch thickness (but leave any tenderloin at 1/2″ thickness. Pat your pork dry using paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Working with one chop at a time, dredge in cornstarch and shake off any excess. Use tongs to dip both sides in egg mixture, and allow any excess to drip away. Cover both sides of chops in panko, using your fingers to press and ensuring an even coating. Set breaded chops onto a wire rack set over a rimmed backing sheet, and allow coating to dry for 5 minutes.
  5. Add 1/2-cup vegetable oil to a 12″ non-stick skillet and set over medium-high burner. Pre-heat for 2-1/2 minutes until oil is shimmering (but not yet smoking). Fry 3 chops for 2-1/2 minutes per side until nicely browned, using a wide metal spatula to press down ensuring even browning. Use a splatter screen if you have one to avoid a big mess on your stovetop. Use tongs to flip to the chop and fry the second side of another 2-1/2 minutes per side until nicely browned. Line the plate in the oven with paper towels, and put the chops in the 200-degree oven while preparing the second batch.
  6. While the chops cook, prepare your sauce as described below.
  7. Discard the oil in the skillet and use a wad of paper towels to wipe skillet. Repeat step 5 with the remaining pork, but only pre-heat the oil for 2 minutes.
  8. Slice into 3/4″ wide strips and drizzle with Tonkatsu sauce.

Tonkatsu Sauce Ingredients:
1/4 teaspoon dry powdered mustard
1/2 teaspoon water
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoons soy sauce

  1. In a small bowl, mix mustard powder and water.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined.

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