This tonkatsu sandwich or Japanese cabbage salad tonkatsu is an easy-to-make, delicious breaded pork sandwich with cabbage and sauce.
A delightful and comforting tonkatsu sandwich perfect for any day of the week.
Japanese food is amazing, isn't it? I cannot say that I have tried so much of it, but what I did have was always beyond good: sushi, different donburi bowls, onigiri, yakitori.
And now this Japanese cabbage salad tonkatsu sandwich! So easy to make and so satisfying. Not to mention that my kids went crazy for it, this Japanese pork sandwich has become one of their most requested recipes.
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What is katsu sando?
Basically, a pork cutlet sandwich. You can find versions of breaded sandwiches in many other countries (for instance, in Germany, the delicious Schnitzel-Brötchen that you can buy in most bakeries), and the katsu sando is the Japanese version of a Schnitzel sandwich.
Katsu means cutlet, and sando is the abbreviated form of the word sandwich. The breaded piece of meat is also called tonkatsu or pork cutlet when the katsu sando is made with pork.
But, although a pork cutlet might be the most common piece of meat used for the sandwich, chicken or beef can be used instead.
A typical Japanese cabbage salad tonkatsu consists of two slices of crustless white bread, a panko-breaded cutlet, a little mayonnaise, some cabbage slaw, and tonkatsu sauce.
How to make it?
Well, it is a sandwich, after all, so you can imagine that making it will not be very difficult.
- Shred the cabbage finely. Knead the cabbage with salt using your hand to tenderize it. Add the vinegar and the oil, mix well, adjust the taste, and leave the cabbage salad until you've made the rest.
- I always make a large bowl of cabbage salad using at least ½ a cabbage or a whole smaller one. You see, I adore cabbage salad or cabbage slaw and I know just how good it keeps in the fridge, we eat it for at least 2 or 3 days in a row and it is always delicious.
The panko-breaded cutlet - tonkatsu
- I used boneless pork chops.
- I had really small pieces of about 80 g/ 3 oz and about 1 cm/ 0.4 inch thick.
- Larger can be used instead, but make sure that they are thinly cut; they should not be thicker than ½ inch/ 1.2 cm.
How to roast panko breadcrumbs
- Usually, the Japanese breaded pork is fried in lots of fat. As I am not a fan of frying stuff (the oil, the mess, the smell...), I preferred to cook them in the oven, the way I cook my schnitzels most of the time.
- Baking them in the oven is a piece of cake indeed, it is fast and the results are delicious: tender meat surrounded by a crispy, golden panko crust.
- However, the baking times are not long enough to allow the panko breadcrumbs to become nice and golden, that is why an extra step is necessary. So, I always roast the panko breadcrumbs.
- In order to do that, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large non-stick pan and fry the panko for about 2-3 minutes, stirring often, until the breadcrumbs are golden. Add some salt and pepper.
How to bread the pork chops
- You will need one large shallow bowl and two large plates. Place the flour on one plate, the panko breadcrumbs on another, and the egg into the shallow bowl. Beat the egg lightly with a fork.
- Remove the fat from around the meat to prevent it from curling, and beat it lightly with a meat pounder. If you don't have a meat pounder (I don't), you can use a small heavy saucepan instead.
- Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper. Don't forget this step, I sometimes do, and I always regret it; unseasoned meat is not so great.
- Dredge through the flour to coat. Pat with the palm of your hand over the plate or the sink to shake off the excess flour.
- Dip in the beaten egg. Hold the piece of meat hanging over the bowl for a few seconds to allow the excess egg to drip back into the bowl.
- Coat with panko breadcrumbs. Press gently with your hands to secure the breadcrumbs onto the cutlet.
How to bake tonkatsu?
- Bake in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit between 8 and 15 minutes, depending on size.
- My chops weighed 80 g/ 3 oz and were about 1 cm/ 0.4 inches, so they needed about 8 minutes in the oven.
- Larger pieces that are not thicker than ½ inch/ 1.2 cm, should also not take long, about 13-15 minutes. Just check by cutting one in the middle; it will be easy to see if it is cooked through.
How to make tonkatsu sauce?
- For a good katsu sando or Japanese sandwich, you will need a good tonkatsu sauce recipe. Tonkatsu sauce is a thick, sweet, and savory Japanese sauce, which is usually served with tonkatsu, but not only.
- Actually, all you need to do is combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.
- And just in case you have some leftover tonkatsu sauce, you could use it to make other kinds of sandwiches – for instance, a cheese sandwich or an egg sandwich. All tested and found absolutely delicious.
- Tonkatsu sauce will also go well with these chicken nuggets, on these schnitzel burgers, or on these potato crust schnitzel.
- It is also great slathered on stir-fried vegetables or on pan-fried tofu.
How to build a katsu sando
- Cut the crust of the bread, if you wish. I forgot that completely and did not even notice it until I saw the pictures again the other day.
- Spread a little mayonnaise and then tonkatsu sauce on each bread slice.
- Cover one slice with a little of the cabbage salad.
- Add the tonkatsu and cover with more cabbage salad.
- Press the second bread slice on top and cut the katsu sando in the middle.
- Serve with more cabbage salad on the side, if you made a larger batch of it.
Tonkatsu Sandwich – Katsu Sando
- 1 cup white or green cabbage 100 g, Note 1
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ teaspoon sugar if necessary
- fine sea salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs 90 g
- Tonkatsu sauce:
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 ½ teaspoons oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon fine sugar
- 4 thin boneless pork chops Note 2
- 1-2 tablespoons all-purpose flour as needed
- 1 large egg
- 8 slices white bread
- 2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise as needed
- Shred the cabbage finely and place it into a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and knead with the hand for about one minute; this will help tenderize the cabbage.
- Dressing: Add the vinegar and the oil and mix well. Taste and add some sugar if you find it necessary. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper.
Roasted panko breadcrumbs:
- Roast panko: Heat the oil in a large, non-stick pan. Add the panko and fry, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
- Combine: In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients. Set aside.
- Pound meat: Remove the fat from around the pork chops to prevent them from curling. Pound the pork chops lightly with a meat pounder. Season with salt and pepper.
- Breading station: You will need one large shallow bowl and two large plates. Place the flour on one plate, the panko breadcrumbs on another, and the egg into the shallow bowl. Beat the egg with a fork.
- Bread pork: Dredge the meat through the flour to coat. Pat the pork chops with the palm of your hand over the plate or the sink to shake off the excess flour.
- Dip the floured meat into the beaten egg. Hold the piece of meat hanging over the bowl for a few seconds to allow the excess egg to drip back into the bowl.
- Coat the pork chops with the panko breadcrumbs. Press gently with your hands to secure the breadcrumbs onto the meat.
- Bake the breaded pork chops in the preheated oven between 8 and 15 minutes, depending on size. My pork chops weighed 3 oz/ 80 g and were about ½ inch/ 1.2 cm. They needed about 8 minutes in the oven. Larger pork chops that are not thicker than this, should also not take long, about 13-15 minutes. Just check by cutting one in the middle; it will be easy to see if it is cooked through.
Assemble the katsu sando:
- Bread: Remove the bread crust if desired. Smear each slice of bread with a little mayonnaise and then with some tonkatsu sauce.
- Spread some cabbage salad on 4 of the bread slices.
- Place one tonkatsu – pork chop on top and cover it with some more cabbage salad.
- Cover each slice with one of the remaining pieces of bread to form a sandwich and press lightly. Cut the sandwiches in the middle and serve.
- Cabbage salad: I always make a large batch; it keeps very well in the fridge for several days and goes well with many other dishes.
- My pork chops weighed about 3 oz/ 90 g each and were about ½ inch/ 1.2 cm thick. You can use larger, lean, boneless pork chops, but make sure that they are not thicker than ½ inch/ 1.2 cm.