Tonkatsu (豚カツ, とんかつ or トンカツ, [tonꜜkatsɯ]) pork cutlet, is a Japanese dish which consists of a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet. There are two main types, fillet and loin. It is often served with shredded cabbage. In Korea, tonkatsu is known as don-gaseu (돈가스) or don-kkaseu (돈까스), which derived from a transliteration of the Japanese word.
The word tonkatsu is a combination of the Sino-Japanese word ton (豚) meaning "pig" and katsu (カツ), which is a shortened form of katsuretsu (カツレツ), the transliteration of the English word cutlet, which again derived from French côtelette, meaning "meat chop".
Tonkatsu originated in Japan in the 19th century. Early katsuretsu was usually beef; the pork version was invented in Japan in 1899 at a restaurant called Rengatei in Tokyo. It was originally considered a type of yōshoku—Japanese versions of European cuisine invented in the late 19th and early 20th centuries—and was called katsuretsu or simply katsu.
The dish was introduced to Korea around 1930s during the Japanese rule period, but the thick, Japanese-style tonkatsu failed to seize popularity. don-gaseu became popular in the 1960s, with the spread of gyeong-yangsik—light western food— restaurants. The dish, although called by Japanese-derived name don-gaseu, followed western pork cutlet recipes such as those of Austrian schnitzel: thinned by pounding before breaded and deep-fried. It was not pre-sliced, and served with bread. Western-style appetizer soup was served before the dish. Don-gaseu developed into two distinct varieties. In 1977, gyeong-yangsik-style don-gaseu with thin meat became a popular menu in gisa-sikdang—drivers' restaurant, similar to transport café, for taxi drivers— with the addition of chili peppers and kimchi as an accompaniment. As gyeong-yangsik restaurants nearly disappeared, this style of don-gaseu is now commonly served in drivers' restaurants and bunsik-jip (snack restaurants). Second style of don-gaseu, with thicker meat and served pre-sliced following the Japanese method, was made popular in 1983 by a restaurant called Myeongdong Dongaseu. This style of don-gaseu is now commonly served in authentic Japanese restaurants.
Either a pork fillet (ヒレ hire) or pork loin (ロース rōsu) cut may be used; the meat is usually salted, peppered, dredged lightly in flour, dipped into beaten egg and then coated with panko (bread crumbs) before being deep fried.
Tonkatsu is generally served with shredded cabbage. It is most commonly eaten with a type of thick Worcestershire sauce called tonkatsu sauce or simply sōsu (sauce), karashi (mustard) and perhaps a slice of lemon. It is usually served with rice, miso soup and tsukemono and eaten with chopsticks. It may also be served with ponzu and grated daikon instead of tonkatsu sauce.
As well as being served as a single dish, it is also used as a sandwich filling or in combination with curry.
Korean don-gaseu is different from Japanese tonkatsu in that it is not served pre-sliced—thus eaten with fork and knife, not chopsticks—, thinner, and is served with demi-glace on top of the fried meat (or in case of fish cutlet, tartar sauce on the fried fish). Common accompaniments include shredded cabbage sprinkled with ketchup-mayonnaise mixture, baked beans, macaroni salad, sweet corn, and danmuji (yellow pickled radish). Green chili peppers and doenjang (soybean paste) or ssamjang (wrap sauce) for dipping the chili peppers, baechu-kimchi (cabbage kimchi) or kkakdugi (radish kimchi), and rice with Korean or Japanese style soup can be served with the don-gaseu plate. Alternatively, bread can replace rice, in which case Western-style soup is served before the main plate as an appetizer.
Variations on tonkatsu may be made by sandwiching an ingredient such as cheese or shiso leaf between the meat, and then breading and frying. For the calorie conscious, konnyaku is sometimes sandwiched in the meat.
Several variations of tonkatsu use alternatives to pork:
A similar cuisine with ingredients other than pork, beef or chicken is called furai (fry), not katsu (cutlet), such as aji-furai (fried horse mackerel) and ebi-furai (fried prawn).
Difference between katsu and furai is not defined explicitly; however, cuisine made of fish or vegetables are not called katsu but called furai.
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