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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Katsu Sando (カツサンド)

I know that Japanese cuisine is famous for it's use of unadulterated white rice. Donburi, onigiri, curry rice all use plain white rice. At nearly every meal, white rice is a star player.

However, the Japanese do eat bread, especially in modern times. They even make sandwiches very similar to ours, albeit with some Japanese flair, called "sando" (サンド). Some popular fillings include egg salad or ham, but you may be surprised to see even varieties like fruit sandwiches.

Marukai's Katsu Sando
The best bread for making a sando is shokupan (食パン), which is a soft pillowy bread that is slightly sweet, and manages to be soft while still having a very tight grain that has some stretch and spring to it. Honestly it's kinda like the mochi version of sandwich slices, soft but stretchy. I also like it because it's perfectly square, and you can get it cut thick. I used it in my Milk Toast post; I like it in this recipe because it doesn't compress down into nothingness like regular sliced bread here in America will, but if you don't have access to shokupan and don't feel like baking, I have some alternatives and suggestions for you down below.

Here's a hearty sando using tonkatsu, one which is a snap to make if you make a whole bunch of tonkatsu at once and freeze the extras. This is also good for those of you who don't have a rice cooker, or you too have your own version of Mr. Mochi breathing down your neck while you edit a blog post. (Hence the less than stellar photography, and I actually only had some pretty wimpy cheap white bread around.)
So-su is a must for this sando

Katsu Sando (カツサンド)

2 slices of bread
shredded cabbage or lettuce
mayo (I prefer Japanese mayo like Kewpie)
1 tonkatsu

For the tonkatsu:
1 boneless pork chops (1/2" thick)
1 tbs all purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Toasting frozen tonkatsu
Either make the tonkatsu (instructions below), or better yet, use a pre-made frozen one that you made in advance. Since you're serving it cold or room temperature and covering it in sauce, it isn't as paramount for it to be straight out of the oil, like if you were serving it plain. If using a frozen katsu, simply toast in the oven or toaster oven at 400°F for about 5-8 minutes until crispy and warmed through. Let cool to room temperature.

To make the tonkatsu, trim the excessive fat off the pork chops and make cuts along the edge of the meat to keep it from curling. Then, either tenderize by making cuts all of the surface of the meat or giving it a couple good whacks with a meat mallet. Season with salt and pepper, then dredge in the following order: flour, egg, then panko crumbs. Make sure the pork is completely coated, paying attention to the edge of the cutlet. Pour the oil into a saucepan, you only need about 1.5-2" of oil. Heat the oil to 350°F and fry the cutlets, turning occasionally, about 4 minutes total. If it's a small pan, fry one piece at a time or two, don't crowd the pieces or the temperature of the oil will plummet. After the panko is a rich golden brown, remove cutlet from oil and drain on a wire rack. Let cool to room temperature.

Spread mayo thinly on both slices. Top one slice with the tonkatsu, then drizzle so-su on the tonkatsu, as little or as much to your liking. Follow with your preferred amount of shredded cabbage or lettuce, then the second slice of bread. For the most Japanese, who for whatever reason love sando crustless, cut off the crusts and cut sandwich in half. Makes one sandwich.

If you don't have access to shokupan: I recommend toasting normal white bread, so that it's not so soft. You could also get a bakery loaf that has a thicker slice and more hefty crumb. Alternatively, if you want to keep the bread ultra-soft and don't want to toast it, cut the bread in half and cut the crust off before assembling the sandwich. If you cut the tonkatsu in half ahead of assembly as well, then when you put it all together you won't have to cut through the whole sandwich, preventing the bread from getting flattened.

See Also:
Tonkatsu Kare Donburi
Braunschweiger Sandwich


  1. Heehee I love Japanese American words! So cute :3

  2. This looks great~ I love the idea of making a batch of katsu and freezing it. I wonder if you could somehow make katsu kare into a sando?

  3. This looks great~ I love the idea of making a batch of katsu and freezing it. I wonder if you could somehow make katsu kare into a sando?

    1. You. Are. A. Genius.

      Stay tuned, totally going to have to master the katsu kare sando.

      So far, I'm thinking you could use the curry sauce as a spread, and then toast the bread so it doesn't get soggy.

      You could also make a rice burger by making two thin and round yaki-onigiri as buns, and mix curry powder into the buns, as well as spread some curry sauce on the insides.

      You could even put some tsukemono in them, or oh! melty cheese to insulate the rice/bread from the curry. Plus cheese is tasty.

      OMG OMG or you could also serve the kare on side to dip the sandwich in, almost like a french dip au jus.

  4. These look sooo good! And fruit sandwiches? Do they slice the fruit and place it in the sandwich or more like a jam kinda thing? Very interesting!

    1. I will totally have to do a fruit sandwich for this blog. I've gotten too many people wondering what it looks like :D