Tonkatsu is a pork cutlet which is served at many Japanese restaurants. At first, people called the menu “poku-katsuretsu,” “poku” meaning pork and “katsuresu” meaning cutlet. Then, the word pork was translated into “ton” which means pork meat, and the word “katsuretsu” was abbreviated into “katsu.”
The names of the cutlet varies depending on the parts of the pork used. “Hire-katsu,” meaning fillet cutlet uses pork tenderloin meat, and “rosu-katsu” uses pork loin meat.
The origin of tonkatsu goes back to the Meiji period (1868-1912), when pork was sautéed. However, cooking sautéed pork took too much time, so in 1899, the restaurant Rengatei, which is in Ginza, Tokyo, introduced the menu pork cutlet for the first time. The founder of the restaurant elaborated the way tempura is deep fried, and deep fried pork with bread crumbs on it.
The way tonkatsu is made is by first putting on flour on the pork, then dip it in mixed egg, and put on bread crumbs. The treated pork will be deep fried in hot oil. After deep frying, the meat will be cut into bite sizes, and often served with shredded cabbage on the plate.
There are local menus using tonkatsu. Misokatsu is a menu comes from Nagoya city, Aichi prefecture, which dips tonkatsu into fermented soy paste. Katsu-meshi is from Kakogawa city, Hyogo prefecture, which puts demiglace source poured tonkatsu on rice, and boiled cabbage added on the side.
There are also unique ways of eating tonkatsu. For example, “Katsu-curry” is a popular menu which the curry is topped with tonkatsu. Katsu-sand is a sandwich putting tonkatsu in between bread, and can easily be eaten as lunch. Tonkatsu can be elaborated into many kinds of menus.