This katsudon recipe makes a Japanese pork cutlet and egg rice bowl topped with spring onions and scallions. Katsudon is a donburi, a rice bowl meal. Like oyakodon, another rice bowl dish, katsudon is a delicious, comforting and filling dish that can be eaten out at specialised restaurants or cooked at home and eaten for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.
Our katsudon recipe will make you a crunchy tonkatsu, a Japanese pork cutlet, cooked in eggs and spring onions, served atop a bowl of rice and sprinkled with slices of scallions. Like our oyakodon recipe, this recipe for katsudon makes an incredibly delicious rice bowl meal. It’s completely addictive, so don’t be surprised if you polish it off in one sitting, though you’d be better off saving some for leftovers, according to Lara (speaking from experience!).
We have been seriously craving Japanese food. We have also been doing a lot of reminiscing lately about our decades-long culinary travels. Not only in Japan, although Tokyo is one of the great global eating destinations that we’ve been longing to get back to and we’ve been salivating over mouth-watering memories.
Rather than Michelin-starred omakase, we’ve been mostly missing the more affordable everyday eating that Tokyo’s office workers do on a daily basis, which brings me back to donburi. The name ‘katsudon’ is derived from ‘katsu’, which means ‘cutlet’ – a breaded piece of pounded meat dipped in flour, egg and bread crumbs (in Japanese cooking, it’s panko breadcrumbs) before being fried – in this case, ‘tonkatsu’ (pork cutlet), and ‘don’ from ‘donburi’, Japanese rice bowl.
This katsudon recipe is the latest recipe in our Weekend Eggs series of quintessential eggs dishes from around the world. If you’re visiting us for the first time, we started Weekend Eggs back in 2010 when we launched Grantourismo with a yearlong global grand tour aimed at promoting slow, local and experiential travel, more sustainable, ethical, engaging, and immersive forms of travel.
We spent two weeks in each destination, staying in apartment rentals and holiday homes to get an insight into how locals lived their lives. In each place we settled into, we explored the local food, connected with local cooks and chefs, and learnt to cook local specialties, which we shared in a series called The Dish, for which I learnt to cook a quintessential dish of each place, and our Weekend Eggs series, which we rebooted early last year.
If you’re an eggs lover and particularly a lover of breakfast eggs dishes, do dig into our Weekend Eggs archive (link above) for inspiration and ideas or browse our collections of our 21 best breakfast recipes of 2021 and our all-time 12 most popular Weekend Eggs recipes in 12 years of Grantourismo, which we compiled as part of Grantourismo’s 12th birthday celebrations.
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Katsudon Recipe for a Japanese Pork Cutlet and Egg Rice Bowl
This Japanese katsudon recipe makes one of our favourite Japanese rice bowl dishes, alongside oyakodon. If you have made and enjoyed our oyakodon recipe and my tonkatsu recipe, then you’re going to love this katsudon recipe.
When it comes to cooking katsudon, there are different methods for making what is essentially the same dish. Our katsudon recipe follows a method that Japanese cooks use.
Firstly, we make a bowl of steamed Japanese rice; then we make a pork cutlet with panko-breaded boneless pork chops, always deep fried (katsudon is never shallow fried); and then we make an egg mixture, sometimes with onions, nearly always with spring onions or scallions, that is mixed with stock. That stock is generally a dashi–based stock, but sometimes chicken stock is used.
Lastly, the sliced pork cutlet is placed on top of the rice and the half-set egg mixture is poured over the pork cutlet. For some people, semi-set eggs trigger thoughts of Salmonella. To us, they are perfect for this dish, still keeping at least some of the pork crunchy, and this is what we use in this katsudon recipe.
Another method of making katsudon is what I call the ‘Instagram method’. This is where the eggs – usually fully cooked through – are placed on the rice and the sliced pork chop pieces are delicately positioned on top of the eggs, and then spring onion pieces are artfully arranged on top of the pork.
This method is not Japanese and you certainly won’t see this method or presentation in a real Japanese restaurant kitchen, where the chef is juggling four orders of katsudon at once, deep-frying pork (and often seafood tempura), cracking and whisking eggs, while stock is boiling on four burners at full blast, waiting for the crunchy sliced pork chops to be placed in them.
It’s this katsudon method, where the sliced pork cutlets are placed in the stock, that is the most popular in Japan. A ladle of the stock is placed in the saucepan (which has the same diameter as the serving bowl), and while boiling furiously, the sliced breaded pork chop is placed in the pan.
Sometimes the chef will ladle a little extra stock on top of the pork. An egg is quickly cracked into a metal container with a little pouring spout, whisked up, and drizzled over the pan in a circular motion.
There is no giant tub of whisked eggs that they’re using to get through during a four-hour service. Each egg is cracked to order and whisked furiously for about 5-10 seconds. The pork has just come out of the deep fryer and has real crunch that would be lacking in shallow-fried pork chops. And all of this happens *fast*.
Some chefs place a lid on the saucepan to steam the eggs a little while they prepare the rice bowl, transferring steaming hot rice straight from a giant industrial rice cooker to the bowls.
Taking the lid off the saucepan again, another fresh egg is whisked and just tossed over the pan. Some spring onions are thrown into the mix before the lid goes on for another 30 seconds to allow the egg and pork mixture to become as one, so the chef can easily slide it out of the pan and onto the rice.
It’s literally three minutes from the sound of the crunchy pork cutlets being sliced to the final rice bowl dish topped with the eggy pork waiting on the pass for a server to take it to the table. Take a look at this YouTube video of a katsudon chef in Japan making katsudon three at a time – it’s amazing!
While you don’t have to work like a line cook to make this katsudon recipe, it’s not an easy one to make at home for more than two people, unless you don’t mind not eating at the same time. This is not a great dish to eat cold, so make sure to serve your katsudon immediately.
Tips to Making This Katsudon Recipe for a Japanese Pork Cutlet and Egg Rice Bowl
If you’re making this katsudon recipe for adults older than 65 years, children younger than 5 years, and people with weakened immune systems, the ‘undercooked’ eggs can be an issue worth thinking about and you will probably want to cook the eggs right through.
To make the pork cutlets, we either use boneless pork chops or pork shoulder that’s not too fatty. Our supermarket (we’re not braving the normal markets at the moment due to omicron) generally tends to have bone-in pork chops, which we love for our marinated pork chops dish, otherwise we tend to use pork shoulder.
In this katsudon recipe, we specify 150 gram pieces of pork as we find that this, along with the rice and eggs, is enough for a really filling breakfast, unless you’ve been for a hike, work-out, surf or swim beforehand.
Katsudon is prepped in three minutes in a Japanese restaurant, so if you’d like to aim for that it’s a good idea to have everything prepped before you even deep-fry your pork chops.
Some restaurants top katsudon with extras such as finely sliced ginger, an egg yolk, some Japanese chilli powder, or a big squeeze of Japanese mayonnaise, but we find that there’s a good balance of flavour in this katsudon recipe as is.
Katsudon Recipe for a Japanese Pork Cutlet and Egg Rice Bowl
- 2 150 g pork shoulder or boneless pork chops
- salt and pepper
Pork Crumb Coating
- 4 tbsp plain flour
- 1 egg
- 80 g Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 cup neutral oil - for frying
- ½ cup dashi stock - or chicken stock
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp mirin
- 4 eggs - extra large
- 2 cups steamed Japanese rice
- 1 bunch spring onions - scallions, base pieces cut into 6 cm pieces, tops chopped finely
- Prick the pork pieces all over with a sharp skewer.
- Brine the pork pieces in a mix of 1 tbsp of sugar 1 tbsp salt, both dissolved into a container of water. Brine for at least 1/2 an hour on a kitchen bench and up to 2 hours in the fridge.
- Prepare the stock by adding the sugar, soy sauce and mirin to the dashi or chicken stock. Keep warm in a saucepan.
- Line up a flat plate, two bowls large enough to hold the pork pieces, and a fourth plate for the coated pork pieces: transfer the flour to the first plate; whisk the egg in the second bowl; and the breadcrumbs in the third dish.
- Press a pork piece into the flour, one side then the first, ensuring it’s completely covered in flour.
- Dip the flour-dusted pork piece into the egg wash.
- Press the pork piece into the Panko breadcrumb mix, one side then the other, ensuring its completely covered in crumbs.
- Move the pork piece to the empty plate, then repeat with the other pork piece.
- Heat a saucepan with the oil to fry the pork. You want a stable 175°C (350°F) and carefully place the fillets in the pan. They should be fully cooked and golden brown within 3-4 minutes.
- Place the Japanese rice in your serving bowls, ready to plate up the final dish.
- Place 125 ml of stock in a saucepan that has the same top diameter as your serving bowls (so the final pork and egg fits in the bowl). Heat the stock until boiling.
- Crack a single egg into a dish and whisk. Or if you're good with measuring, do all four eggs at once.
- Chop each pork piece into 1.5 to 2cm slices and add one entire sliced pork piece to the pan. Drizzle the whisked egg over the pan, mainly around the pork slices. Cook for 30 seconds.
- Whisk and add the next egg to the pan and some sliced spring onions
- Place a lid on the pan for 30 seconds.
- Remove the lid. At this stage you should be able to move the egg and pork layer as a whole piece. If not, cook for a little longer.
- When the dish is ready – note that there will still be some liquid in the pan – place the pan over the rice dish and starting at the edge closest to you, slide the egg and pork on top of the serving dish. Garnish with a little green spring onions.
- Repeat the process with the second dish.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make our katsudon recipe for a Japanese pork cutlet and egg rice bowl, as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.