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Tonkatsu or Japanese Pork Cutlet or Pork Katsu is a typical Japanese dish of a deep-fried breaded pork cutlet. In this recipe, I did a few tweaks to the recipe, by adding sesame oil to the marinade (I love sesame oil in my Asian recipes, it really alleviates the flavour with enhanced smokiness and a very unique aroma). I’ve used butter crackers, crushed them into fine particles, as the final coating of the pork katsu, it gives a really buttery flavour to the finished dish. Instead of deep frying in oil, I coated the pork with a thin brush of oil, then cook it using my Ninja XL air fryer. It cooks well and fast, without the absorption of too much oil from conventional deep frying.
Tonkatsu uses either pork fillets or pork loin cut, typically marinated with salt, pepper, then coated lightly with flour, beaten egg, and finally coated with panko or bread crumbs. It’s then deep fried to a crispy golden brow, sliced and served with shredded cabbage or grated daikon. When you visit any Japanese restaurant, they will serve the tonkatsu with rice and miso soup, or even ramen or udon, and eaten with chopsticks. A type of thick brown savoury-sweet sauce called tonkatsu sauce and karashi (or mustard) are usually served on the side as a dip.
In case you are wondering the other types of meat that can be used, I’ve tried using pork shoulder to make this dish and it turns out just as tender and juicy. The key differences between the different cuts of meat are:
- Pork shoulder comes from the shoulder of the animal, as the name implies, but it’s also referred to as pork butt sometimes. It’s rich in fat and connective tissue, thus making it perfect for slow roasting, for dishes such as pulled pork.
- Pork fillet is also known as pork tenderloin. It is a thin and long rectangular boneless cut from the loin muscle, which is not for movement. It is a particularly tender cut of meat with very little fat.
- Pork loin is a leaner cut of meat, with less fat than pork shoulder, it is also the most tender. Pork loin is usually used in pork chop dishes.
I used the Pagoda brand corn flour I bought in Singapore. It’s a fine white coloured flour. In other parts of the world, it might be called corn starch. Apparently corn flour is a yellow coloured powder made from dried finely ground corn, and corn starch is a fine white coloured powder derived from the starchy part of a corn kernel. Corn starch is mainly used as a thickener or added to meat marinade to help tenderise the meat.
Ingredients for the Air Fryer Tonkatsu recipe
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Air Fryer Tonkatsu (Japanese Pork Cutlet)
- Using a meat pounder or the back of a knife, pount the pork loin to tenderise it. Note: do this on both sides of the pork loin.300 g boneless pork loin
- Marinate the pork loin by adding 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt, 1 tbsp sesame oil. Rub the marinade all over the pork loin to ensure even coating. Cover and keep in fridge for an hour.1 tbsp sesame oil, 1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper
- Crush 6-7 butter or cream crackers into fine particles using a food processor.6-7 butter or cream crackers
- Beat the 2 eggs and set aside.2 eggs
- Coat the marinated pork loin evenly with corn starch. Then coat evenly with egg. Then coat generously with crushed butter crackers. Brush a thin layer of cooking oil all over the pork loin. (or you can spray the oil on)3-4 tbsp corn starch
- Pre-heat air fryer at 190C / 374F for 3 minutes. Place pork loin into the pre-heat air fryer and make sure there is no overlapping of the meat. Air fry at 190C / 374F for 12 minutes. Flip the pork loins halfway to ensure even cooking on both sides. The internal temperature of the meat should reach 63C / 145F when it's cooked.
- Serve warm with rice and condiments.