Sous vide Tonkatsu

On May 23rd, 2023 in Food

One of my favorite dishes while living in Japan was Tonkatsu. That perfect cooked pork meat fried with panko and a dash of that sweet sour salt sauce was one of those dishes to be eaten at home on a not very regular day, or on weekends at tonkatsu restaurants.

If you’re looking for a good recipe, I recommend Namiko Hirasawa’s Just One Cookbook Tonkatsu Recipe. Her recipe is simple, in english and works very well. If you know japanese, you can always search for variations at Cookpad, but Namiko keeps her recipe classic.

By the way, when I mean “classic”, I’m talking about the most common recipe you find at restaurant chains in Tokyo where they cook the 豚ロース (pork roast) of the 豚ヒレ (pork fillet). Pork roast would be the pork loin in US or the “lombo” in Brazil. A quite lean and tender meat that, if not cooked properly, can become too dry.

The cut is also quite thick, something like almost 1 inch (like on the photo above). Others regions in Japan have their tonkatsu made different. I’m not exactly sure where, but I think it was in Hiroshima where I ate a tonkatsu that was thin and small.

That’s where the sous vide part begins. I always cooked tonkatsu using a recipe similar to Namiko’s, but sometimes my pork was too rare at the end needing the microwave to finish it. I was always worried to overcook and have an unappetising dry meat.

Cooking the meat using sous vide solves all those problems because you have a already cooked product that only needs to be deep fried and served. For safety, I cooked my pork at 62º C (about 145 F) for 1.5 hour for pasteurization.

For better texture and for a perfect salty meat, I also brine the meat. If you don’t know what is that and what are the advantages, I suggest taking a look at this video from ChefStep.


  • Buy a pork loin. If needed, trim the excess fat.
  • Brine the pork loin for 12 hours in a solution of 2% of salt (weight the meat with the water and add 2% of it’s weight in salt). Keep it in the refrigerator.
  • Remove the pork loin from the brine solution, sprinkle black pepper and add it to the ziplock bag.
  • Cook it at 62/63ºC (145F) for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  • Remove it from the heat and leave at room temperature (if you are planning to cook much later, maybe it’s better to put the cooked meat at the refrigerator).
  • When ready to cook, remove the meat from the bag, remove the excess liquid, cut the desired slices and use them as a regular loin for tonkatsu. DO NOT add salt to the meat because it’s already seasoned.

The difference from Namiko’s recipe for mine are:

  • You shall not season the meat with salt, because it’s already seasoned (but you can season with black pepper)
  • You may fry the pork at 180ºC (360ºF) instead of 170ºC (340ºF). You only need to fry the crust, the meat is already cooked.

And that’s all. You’ll have a perfectly seasoned cooked tonkatsu with a crispy exterior.

For the sauce, I also recommend Namiko’s recipe for Tonkatsu Sauce. I actually prefer her recipe instead of the Bulldog store bought.

Bonus: some tonkatsu restaurant’s recommendations

For those going to Tokyo, I do recommend those restaurants:

  • Tonkatsu Marugo (とんかつ 丸五(まるご)): it’s located near to Akihabara Station. It’s a Michelin Bib Gourmand. The restaurant is small, you MUST arrive before opening to avoid waiting for over an hour.
  • Yamabe Okachimachi (とんかつ 山家(やまべ)御徒町店): it’s located near to Ueno Station. The restaurant is small and delicious. I do recommend arriving before opening to avoid waiting too long.
  • Tonkatsu Maisen restaurants: there are a lot of Maisen’s restaurants in Tokyo. It’s very possible that you find one in your way. It’s delicious and rice, cabbage and miso soup are refill.
Tags: 2023 tonkatsu