Katsu: Not Just Any Fried, Breaded Cutlet

Written by on October 17th, 2017 // Filed under Blog

Westernized and Truly Japanese

Katsu, or “cutlet” in Japanese, refers to meat that’s been pounded thin before being cooked. Chicken katsu is a popular dish of fried chicken wherein the meat is seasoned, then dredged in flour, egg, and finally panko breadcrumbs – a flaky type of breadcrumb made with white bread. Katsu can also be of seafood. Similar in form to a German schnitzel, katsu is one of many Western foods that has been adapted to suit local tastes, and become a key part of Japanese cuisine.

There is no real fundamental difference between katsu and other styles of breaded and fried cutlets. Only two things distinguish it. First, katsu must be made with panko crumbs (as opposed to European-style breaded cutlets, where panko may occasionally be called for but is not a requirement). And second, it must be served with katsu sauce. Katsu is not katsu without the thick, savory-sweet, Worcestershire sauce.

It all started during the Meiji era, when then Emperor Meiji encouraged Western influences. He wanted to turn Japan into a modern country. It was this Western Influence that introduced pork and deep frying into the mix, and since then the dish has gone on to evolve into many variations that include chicken, fish and vegetables.

Pork cutlet was invented in Japan in 1899 at a Tokyo restaurant called Rengatei that wanted to offer a European-style meat cutlet. Originally considered a type of yōshoku (a Japanese version of European cuisine) the dish was called katsuretsu or simply katsu. The term “tonkatsu” (pork katsu) was adopted in the 1930s. Before tonkatsu, katsu was traditionally made from beef.

Now, katsu is available in many places, from convenience store takeaway bento boxes, to yoshoku (Western-style Japanese food) eateries and katsu specialty restaurants. Whether served with a side of shredded raw cabbage and thick katsu sauce, with a side of Japanese curry, on top of a bowl of steaming rice, or as a sandwich, katsu is a highly satisfying dish.

Delighting in Katsu at K-Ton

Katsu in any variation – pork, chicken or seafood – is a truly satisfying meal. K-Ton even offers non-meat varieties as potato and cheese. They come in toppings and sidings of your choice.