Tonkatsu — Light and Crispy Edition

Tonkatsu - Light and Crispy Edition

Welcome back to byKumi.  This week, we’ll make tonkatsu, a breaded pork cutlet.  With this recipe, we’ll make tonkatsu in a way that is lighter and crispier than what you’d find at a traditional Japanese restaurant.


  • 1 Pork tenderloin¹
  • ~3 Heaping Tbs. White rice flour², plus more 
    Rice Flour
    Rice Flour
  • ¼ Cup Milk or Non-Dairy Substitute or water, enough to make medium thick batter
  • 6 oz. Panko (Japanese bread crumbs, any brand) 
    Panko (Japanese Style Bread Crumbs)
    Panko (Japanese Style Bread Crumbs)
  • Kosher salt (preferred) Diamond Crystal is my favorite brand. It is my go-to for all cooking and baking.
  • Black pepper
  • Garlic powder (or Garlic salt, omit above salt)
  • Oil to deep fry enough for about 1 inch deep. Refined coconut oil (not virgin coconut oil) or peanut oil are my top choices. These oils are good for high heat cooking.
  • Sauce for serving (Store bought tonkatsu sauce or homemade, see below for recipe.) A-1 or plain ketchup work as well!

¹ Can substitute with chicken. Chicken tenders work well. Remove extra fat and some of the tendon if possible on the tenders. Leave whole or cut in half.

² Purchase white rice flour from an Asian market. Bob’s Red Mill is not as finely ground and will be gritty in texture. And be careful not to purchase the glutinous rice flour. 

Ingredients for Tonkatsu Sauce

  • 3 Tbs. Ketchup
  • ~1-2 Tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Mix the above ingredients and adjust to your taste. This should be enough to make one serving.

Prepare the tenderloin

Remove gristle or extra fat and slice thinly. Cut about ¼ inch, keep thin so meat cooks evenly. Lay the slices of pork on a large plate or baking sheet. Lightly sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. (Or pepper and garlic salt.)

Bread the pork

In a small bowl, make a batter with the rice flour and milk or non-dairy substitute or water. Adjust the batter with more liquid or rice flour to achieve the right consistency. Pour some panko in a different small bowl. 

Dip one piece of pork in the batter to coat both sides and allow excess batter to drip off. Now, lay the pork in the panko. Sprinkle panko on top and press down gently to coat evenly. Flip the pork and press gently. Shake any excess panko off and set aside on a large plate or baking sheet. Continue until all the pork is breaded, making more batter if necessary. Discard any leftover panko from the breading. 

Deep frying

Add enough oil to about 1 inch in depth in the pot. Turn on the stove to medium high. Optimal stove setting will vary. 

While heating the oil, prepare a baking sheet with paper towels and cooling rack.

The oil is ready when a piece of panko dropped in the pot immediately bubbles in the oil.

Carefully place pork into the oil. Add enough to fit the pot without overcrowding, about 5-7 pcs. Be sure no pieces stick to the bottom. Let both sides fry to a nice golden color. Once fully cooked and golden in color, remove and allow to drain on the rack.

If/when the oil fills with a lot of stray panko, remove with a skimmer. The panko will blacken and burn if left inside the pot.

Repeat until all the pork is cooked. And enjoy!

Also, don’t forget to submit a photo of your creations!  You can upload your photos using my Contact form!

Author: mpao

Hi there! My name is Marsha Kumi Pao, and I’m a home cook from the Pacific Northwest. Through my videos and blog, I hope to bring you easy, accessible, and tasty recipes that embody my upbringing as a Japanese-American. These recipes are ones that I’ve grown up on and adopted—merging the tastes of my family’s intergenerational and intercultural cuisine

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