If we’re talking about the ultimate Japanese comfort food then hot plate of Tonkatsu Curry will always be my choice. I love Japanese food, from an inspired sushi omakase to a home style donabe, it’s one of the few cuisines I never tire from. Yet this simple curry and cutlet dish is my favorite thing to get on a cold, rainy day after walking around kappabashi on the hunt for new cooking tools.
I always talk about how I take a cooking class in every city I visit, but Japan is one of the few places I don’t. Why? Because I usually stay with family and end up cooking all those delicious recipes with my aunt. And it was through her I learned some wonderful recipes I make to this day.
Now I didn’t learn how to make a tonkatsu through her, but I do use box curry mix just like most Japanese families. Yes you can make it from scratch, but the box is so, so much easier. All in all this dish is four separate recipes: Japanese curry, Tonkatsu, White Rice, and Bulldog Sauce. I’ll get the the last entry later down.
What You Will Need
- Frying Pan – Use something with high walls if you can. While I will show how to shallow fry the tonkatsu, some people prefer a deep fry.
- Dutch Oven or Pot – I use a clay dutch oven from Emile Henry when I make curries as it weighs quite a bit less than cast iron but still has great heat retention.
- Rice Cooker or Pot – Yes, I recommended an expensive Zojirushi. No, it is not absolutely necessary. It is in my mind one of my favorite kitchen tools and way better than the cheap $40 versions from Wal*Mart and the like.
How To Make Tonkatsu Curry At Home
This recipe is separated into four parts. But the first two are the most important; The Japanese curry and the tonkatsu. I already have a guide showing how to make Kokumaro Japanese curry but you can use any brand you like. However Kokumaro is my favorite easily accessible brand and you can even buy it online here.
Japanese Curry Ingredients
For this instructional guide I am going to follow the instructions on the box exactly. Ok, I make one substitution in ingredients, but it is an acceptable one in my opinion.
Kokumaro Japanese Curry Ingredients
- 1 box Kokumaro Curry Sauce Mix – you can usually find this at a Japanese grocery store or online.
- 300 grams Beef – the original recipe just states ‘MEAT’ but that just means you can use any meat you want. I prefer to use beef when making Japanese curry.
- 400 grams Onions – as you can see I am using shallots instead. I would say I have a culinary reason for making the substitution, but to be honest I just didn’t feel like walking to the market. (about 1 pound)
- 300 grams Potatoes – I suggest using starchy yellow potatoes. (about 2/3 pound)
- 200 grams Carrot – this is about 1-2 carrots depending on size, but what is more important is finding straight, non-tapered carrots as they are more uniform in the final dish.
- 2 tbsp Oil – I use sunflower oil, but you can use any neutral oil with a high smoke point.
- 1 liter Water – 4 and 1/5 cups
Directions For Kokumaro Japanese Curry
The first step to making this Japanese curry is to prepare all your ingredients. Start by cubing your beef (or meat of your choice) into bite size pieces.
After the beef you can slice the shallot. I cut them into thick half rings, but they will nearly dissolve in the final dish so you can go smaller if you like.
In a thick pot add the oil and turn the heat up to medium-high. When hot add the beef and onion/shallot and allow the meat to brown on all sides. While this is happening you can peel and cube the potatoes, and peel and slice the carrots into bite size pieces.
Once the meat is browned add in the potato and carrot and give the pot a good mix. I like to use a sturdy wooden spoon here to make sure none of the meat is sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning.
Lower the heat to low-medium and add the water. I am using a 3 liter Dutch oven and with all of the ingredients plus the liter of water it is almost full. I suggest using a pot no smaller than 3 liters. Let the pot simmer for about 15 minutes.
Take the brick of curry roux and break it along the scores. Just drop them into the water and give the pot a few good stirs. The boxed mix dissolves quite quickly so don’t worry about having chunks of powder in your final Japanese curry. Simmer for another 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
Making A Quick Tonkatsu (Panko Fried Pork Cutlet)
With the amount of curry made you can make four tonkatsu cutlets. And since most of the flavor is coming from the curry and sauce, you only need four ingredients total to make this quick and easy tonkatsu.
- 4 Pork Cutlets – I like to do a gentle pounding with a meat tenderizer on these. Not enough to seriously distort their shape and get them super thin like a chicken fried steak or a schnitzel, but enough to reduce thickness by about 1/3.
- 2 large Eggs
- 100 grams Panko (about 2 cups) – This is Japanese style breadcrumbs which are lighter and crispier than Western style breadcrumbs. I always have a large bag on hand for anything from katsu dishes to shellfish. If you cannot find them at your local grocery you can buy them online here.
- Neutral Oil – As needed. I use sunflower oil but you can use soybean, rapeseed/CANOLA, or any other neutral flavor oil you prefer.
To make this tonkatsu recipe just dip your pork cutlet in the egg, then into the panko, then into the egg, then back into the panko. Finally gently lay it in a pool of hot oil (I recommend 175c or 350f) until golden. I find that one and a half to two minutes a side works well for me since I get apprehensive about overcooking my pork.
Homemade Bulldog Sauce
In Japan you will always see a bottle of bulldog sauce on the table at tonkatsu joints. Well, some of the really nice places make their own, but it is one of my favorite parts of the dish.
In truth, Bulldog is just the brand name of a Japanese manufacturer or Worcester sauce (in Japan they don’t call it Worcestershire sauce) but they are extremely well known for their katsu sauce which is more similar to HP brown sauce or A.1. Steak Sauce.
For this recipe I clearly didn’t invent my own, so I recommend the one by Sudachi Recipes:
- 4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 pinches light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp white sesame seeds, optional
Just combine all ingredients in a bowl and spoon or squeeze over your tonkatsu after plating. I love using these restaurant style squeeze bottles to get that perfect looking drizzle over my homemade tonkatsu curry!
Make the white rice how you normally would. If you use a rice maker let it do its thing, otherwise do it in a regular pot.
Plate your dish by spooning some rice on a plate. Then ladle over a heaping amount of Japanese curry. For the tonkatsu it is customarily sliced into strips and then laid right on top of the curry/rice before being drizzled with the katsu sauce. Garnish with a few chopped spring onions and enjoy!!
More Japanese Recipes You Might Like
- 1 box Curry Sauce Mix
- 300 grams Beef cubed
- 400 grams Onions diced
- 300 grams Potatoes cubed
- 200 grams Carrot sliced into whole or half circles
- 2 tbsp Oil
- 1 liter Water
- 4 Pork Cutlets gently pounded to tenderize
- 100 grams Panko Bread Crumbs
- 2 large Eggs beaten
- Neutral Oil as needed
- 4 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 tbsp Ketchup
- 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
- 2 pinches Light Brown Sugar
- 2 tbsp White Sesame Seeds optional
- Follow the box instructions to make your curry at home. Brown your beef in the oil, then add the onions and allow them to soften. Next add the carrots and potatoes and water and bring to a boil. Add the curry bricks and cook until thick. While the curry is simmering you can make the pork cutlets and white rice.1 box Curry Sauce Mix, 300 grams Beef, 400 grams Onions, 300 grams Potatoes, 200 grams Carrot, 2 tbsp Oil, 1 liter Water
- After gently pounding out the pork cutlets make a breading station and set a pan of oil on the heat until it reaches around 175c or 350f.4 Pork Cutlets
- Dip the pork into the egg, then into the panko, then back into the egg, then back into the panko, then into the oil for about a minute and a half to two minutes per side.100 grams Panko Bread Crumbs, 2 large Eggs, Neutral Oil
- After frying the pork you can whisk together your sauce in a minute (or you can do this step way in advance as the sauce will hold well for days).4 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce, 2 tbsp Ketchup, 2 tbsp Soy Sauce, 2 pinches Light Brown Sugar, 2 tbsp White Sesame Seeds
- Plate your rice then ladle over the curry. Slice your tonkatsu into strips and lay atop the rice and curry, then drizzle with the katsu sauce. Enjoy!