Tonkatsu is the first dish I dream of whenever I go to Japan and, apart from having it several times during the stay, I always do my best to make it my first and last meal of the journey. I have also been preparing it at home for many years, Even though mine is not even half as good as in Japan, I prepare it quite often. Actually, I love it so much that, if it wasn’t for the fat, I would have it at least once a week. With fat content reduction in min I started to bake it in the oven, but it didn’t compare to the real thing (contrary to the baked chicken katsu, which gave quite satisfying results). Anyway, I hoped an air fryer would be a better, less drying and less time-consuming solution and after years of hesitation (my kitchen and pantry lack space for such a bulky appliance), I bought it.
As you have obviously guessed the air-fryer experiment was a success! A real revolution for someone as fond of tonkatsu as I am! Not only is it less dry than the oven-baked, it’s also quicker and much more convenient for small batches. I won’t lie : it’s not as good as the deep-fried original, but I find it genuinely delicious, though different. (By the way, I found air-fried chicken katsu even juicier and closer to its deep-fried version!)
I prepare now both tonkatsu and chicken katsu so often, I have hardly tested anything else in my air fryer (apart from falafels, which were a big flop), so if you have experience with this appliance, please do share it with me!
Click below if you want to make the real original deep-fried tonkatsu:
TIPS: Sprinkling the tonkatsu with sesame oil is not necessary, but it does improve the taste (for sesame oil lovers) and the texture.
I’ve tested different thickness options and my favourite was 1 cm thin and crispy tonkatsu.
If using tenderloin, you can cut a bit thicker slices and shorten the cooking time (I’d test 10 minutes at 180°C), but I haven’t tested this cut yet, so I cannot say for sure.
Of course you can use chicken breasts instead of pork loin, cutting them in two lengthwise, to make them thinner.
Every air fryer is different, so you might have to test first the timing for the brand and size you own (mine wasn’t the most famous brand).
In theory you could use “normal” breadcrumbs, but I have no idea what the texture and taste would be like once cooked. Anyway, whenever I can, I always use the Japanese panko because it’s lighter and crispier.
Preparation: about 30 minutes
Ingredients (serves two-three, 2 batches in my air fryer):
6 thin slices of pork loin (about 1 cm or a bit more than 1/3 inch thick)
about 10-12 heaped tablespoons of panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
5 tablespoons wheat flour
1 egg, slightly beaten
sesame oil (or any other oil)
tonkatsu sauce to serve (or a mixture of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce) or mayonnaise + taberu rayu sediment
Heat a frying pan and heat (medium heat) a thin panko layer until it starts becoming golden (stir constantly and pay attention because it burns easily).
Season the pork slices generously with salt and pepper.
Dust the pork slices with flour, dip them in the beaten egg and coat in panko, pressing so that the whole slice is covered.
Place the tonkatsu in the air fryer basket, spray/sprinkle with oil (only the upper side) and fry at 180°C for 11 minutes.
Keep them in a warm oven until you finish frying all the batches.
Serve on rice, on finely shredded cabbage or in a sandwich, with tonkatsu sauce or with mayonnaise and chili paste (or chili oil sediment).