I’ve written about tonkatsu before in the past, and I’ve written about Japanese curry too. However, that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t write about it again. Tonkatsu is breaded and deep-fried pork steak, much like a schnitzel or escalope panée. It isn’t really a traditional Japanese dish, because it was unknown until the opening up of Japan to outside influences in the second half of the 19th century.
If you are going to go to the bother of the process of coating pork steaks and getting the deep fryer hot, you might as well do a few spare pieces. They won’t go to waste. Any leftover pieces of tonkatsu are excellent cold, with salad leave and mayonnaise in a sandwich.
Curry isn’t traditionally Japanese either. It was introduced by the British in the 19th century as well. Japanese curry isn’t anything like Indian food either. If it resembles anything familiar at all, it is most like the kind of curry you might get in a Chinese takeaway and the sauce tastes like the kind of curry sauce you sometimes get from a fish and chip shop. Having said that, I like it for what it is, not what it isn’t. You just have to treat it as being nothing like Indian food.
Japanese curry comes in blocks of what is known as a curry roux. You dissolve the blocks in boiling water and add them to whatever you are cooking. A Japanese beef curry is a bit like a beef and vegetable stew with a spicy, savoury gravy. The blocks contain cornflour or potato flour and this thickens the sauce as it cooks. You can buy mild, medium or hot varieties but none of them are actually that hot really. You could, I suppose make things hotter by adding some chopped chillies or some hot chilli sauce, but I don’t mind a mild curry with my tonkatsu.
Tonkatsu with rice and curry is known as katsu karē.
All you need to do is trim the fat off of your pork, I think that loin steaks work best, and then flour, egg and bread-crumb them, ideally using Japanese panko crumbs. Sushi rice is the best kind of rice to accompany the tonkatsu and your curry can contain a variety of chopped up and fried vegetables. I like to use onions, red and green peppers, carrots and peas, but you could equally use green beans, cubed potatoes or anything else. The important thing, to my way of thinking, is to have a variety of textures and flavours in your mild curry sauce.
This is one of my favourite comfort-eating meals. Breaded and fried things are always great.