Katsu Curry (Japanese Curry with Tonkatsu Nuggets and Fried Egg)


Sonoko Sakai's Japanese curry recipe is an ode to two popular Japanese dishes: curry and katsu. The secret to getting the brittle, crispy skin on tonkatsu (Japanese crispy breaded pork cutlets) is to use panko breadcrumbs, which are much larger and coarser than Western-style breadcrumbs. The tonkatsu is served on a bed of rice flavored with curry sauce and topped with cabbage, cilantro, and a fried egg, with pickled cucumber on the side for a delicious blend of textures and flavors.

Katsu Curry (Japanese Curry with Tonkatsu Nuggets and Fried Egg)
Photo: Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen
Active Time:
1 hrs 15 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 25 mins


Curry Powder

  • 2 to 3 cardamom pods

  • 1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick, broken into small pieces

  • 1 dried bay leaf

  • 1 tablespoon brown or black mustard seeds

  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds

  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds

  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

  • ½ teaspoon whole cloves

  • 1 ½ teaspoons black peppercorns

  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger

  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric

  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste


  • 3 tablespoons mochiko (sweet glutinous rice flour) (such as Koda Farms)

  • 3 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth, divided

  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil, unsalted butter, or canola oil

  • 1 medium-size (9-ounce) yellow onion, thinly sliced (1 1/2 cups)

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger (from 1 [2-inch] piece ginger)

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 4 teaspoons ketchup (preferably Japanese Kagome)

  • 2 teaspoons honey or mirin

  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon) or rice vinegar (optional)

  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste

Quick Cucumber Pickle

  • 3 medium-size Kirby cucumbers (about 12 ounces), sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds (about 2 1/4 cups)

  • ½ teaspoon cane sugar

  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice or lime juice (from 1 lemon or 1 lime)

Tonkatsu Nuggets

  • Rice bran oil, sesame oil, or grapeseed oil, for frying

  • 4 (4- to 5-ounce) boneless pork loin chops (about 3/4 inch thick)

  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

  • cup all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 ounces)

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • 2 cups panko

Additional Ingredients

  • 4 cups cooked white rice

  • 3 cups finely shredded red or green cabbage (about 8 ounces) (from 1 small head cabbage)

  • 4 lemon wedges

  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves

  • 4 fried eggs


Make the curry powder:

  1. Cook cardamom pods, cinnamon pieces, bay leaf, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, and whole cloves in a medium skillet over medium, tossing or stirring often, until toasted and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool 2 minutes. Transfer toasted cardamom mixture and black peppercorns to a spice grinder; process, stopping to shake grinder a couple of times to make sure cinnamon stick is pulverized, until a powder forms, about 15 seconds. Continue processing until a fine powder forms, about 15 seconds. Pour ground spices through a fine wire-mesh strainer set over a medium bowl. If any coarse pieces remain in strainer, return to spice grinder, and process until they form a fine powder; sift again. Discard any remaining coarse pieces. Add ground ginger, turmeric, salt, paprika, and cayenne to ground cardamom mixture in bowl, and whisk to combine. Add additional cayenne to taste. Reserve 1 tablespoon curry powder; store remaining curry powder for another use.

Make the curry:

  1. Whisk together mochiko and 1/2 cup broth in a small bowl to form a slurry. Set aside. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add chopped ginger and garlic; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in remaining 2 1/2 cups broth. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium. Stir in soy sauce, ketchup, honey, lemon juice (if using), salt, and reserved 1 tablespoon curry powder. Stir mochiko slurry in bowl; drizzle slurry into onion mixture, stirring constantly to combine. Cook mixture over medium, stirring bottom of pan often to prevent sticking, until flavors marry, mixture thickens, and onion breaks down further, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, process mixture in pan until creamy and smooth, about 1 minute. Taste and season with additional salt if needed. Return pan to heat, and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring often, 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and set aside until ready to serve.

Make the quick cucumber pickle:

  1. Place cucumbers in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and salt; gently massage with your hands for 10 seconds. Let cucumbers stand in brine 5 minutes. Holding cucumbers in bowl using your hands or a slotted spoon, pour out and discard excess brine in bowl. Add lemon juice to cucumbers in bowl; toss to combine. Set aside.

Make the tonkatsu nuggets:

  1. Pour oil into a medium-size Dutch oven to a depth of 1 1/2 inches; heat over medium until oil reaches 350°F. Trim fat around edges of pork chops; discard. If necessary, pound pork chops using flat side of a meat mallet to slightly flatten them so that all pieces are 3/4 inch thick. Cut each chop in half crosswise to make 8 nuggets total. Rub nuggets evenly with salt and pepper. Place flour, egg, and panko in 3 separate shallow bowls. Dredge 1 pork nugget in flour; shake off excess. Dip in egg; let excess drip off. Coat generously with panko, pressing gently to adhere. Transfer coated nugget to a plate. Repeat process with remaining nuggets.

  2. Add half of the tonkatsu nuggets to hot oil in Dutch oven; fry until lightly browned on bottom sides, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and fry until golden brown all over, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer fried tonkatsu nuggets to a large paper towel–lined plate. Repeat process with remaining tonkatsu nuggets.

  3. Reheat curry in pan over medium, stirring occasionally, until warmed through, about 3 minutes. Divide rice evenly among 4 shallow bowls. Spoon curry evenly over half of each bowl. Slice tonkatsu nuggets, and arrange evenly divided pieces on the other half of bowls, using rice as a pillow. Top evenly with shredded cabbage, lemon wedges, and cilantro. Place 1 fried egg on each bowl. Serve alongside quick cucumber pickle.

Make Ahead

Curry powder can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 month. Curry can be prepared through step 2 up to 2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Sonoko Sakai's Curry Brick Kits may be substituted for homemade curry powder; find them at sonokosakai.com.

Suggested Pairing

Malty Japanese beer: Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale

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