The Japanese have pretty much perfected the art of making food extra delicious by covering it in a crispy coating. I’ve already shared my Chicken Katsu Curry recipe with you this week and hot on its heels comes this recipe for Pork Belly Tonkatsu. The main difference between this and the Chicken version being that I oven-bake the pork to get it nice and crispy, rather than frying it. It not really a fat-reduction method here – I wouldn’t be using pork belly if I wanted low-fat after all. It’s because it’s a little bit easier and doesn’t require a pan full of hot oil. If you’d rather fry the pork then go ahead – I just don’t think you need to…
For the pedants out there, I should mention that I am aware that calling this Pork Belly dish “Tonkatsu” is a little bit naughty. Traditionally it would be made with pork loin cutlets, cooked whole and served in slices in a similar way to the Chicken Katsu Curry. It’s nice enough but I much prefer the contrast of crunchy coating and melt-in-the-mouth pork belly and that’s what I’ve used here. Permit me a little bit of artistic licence here, won’t you?
The only downside to using pork belly is that this isn’t something you can make on a whim. The meat needs to be slow-cooked well in advance and allowed to cool before being coated in the breadcrumbs. It does however mean that you can prepare a lot of this in advance of the final steps – so you could even cook the pork the day before if you’re pressed for time. Just don’t try and cut any corners here. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried cooking pork belly quickly but it’s really not worthwhile and you’ll hate yourself for doing it. It’s not actually time consuming either, as you don’t need to keep an eye on it whilst it’s in the oven. It will baste itself quite happily and as long as it’s well covered you could probably leave it in for a bit too long without any serious consequences. Indeed, I should confess that I went back to bed for oven an hour whilst I was cooking this for my parents, as I was suffering from a mild hangover!
Get the pork belly right and the rest looks after itself. Panko breadcrumbs have never let me down and unless you’re totally reckless you won’t be disappointed either. They add a crispness that you just don’t get anywhere else – allowing you to cook these in the oven without any compromise on the texture. When drizzled with a generous helping of Tonkatsu Sauce you’re in for a real treat. Fortunately, the sauce is just as easy to make as the rest of the dish and, unlike the pork, can be prepared in a matter of minutes should you be short on time…
Oven-Baked Pork Belly Tonkatsu
- 500 g Pork Belly Slices
- 1 tsp Sea Salt Flakes
- ½ tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 2 tbsp Plain Flour
- 1 Egg beaten
- 100 g Panko Breadcrumbs
- Spray Oil
Roast the Pork Belly
- Pre-heat the oven to 150°C.
- I find it best to use pork belly that's been cut by the butcher, but you're using a whole pork belly then cut it into slices of around 2-3cm in thickness. Pat them dry with some kitchen towel. Season well with the salt and pepper, then place into a roasting tin. Cover with foil and put into the oven for 90 minutes, until tender.
- Remove the cooked pork belly from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Put into container (or on a plate and cover with cling film) before putting into the fridge. Allow to chill for an hour - this will make the next steps easier.
Prepare the Tonkatsu Pork
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
- Remove the chilled pork belly slices from the fridge and cut into 3-5cm wide pieces. This should give you 3-4 "cubes" from each slice.
- Put the flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs onto three plates. Coat each piece of pork with flour first, tapping off any excess, then dip them into the egg making sure they're well coated. Finally dip them into the breadcrumbs on all sides until well coated. Put them onto a baking sheet.
- When all the pork is coated put the tray into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. You will want to turn them once during cooking to ensure an even colour and crispness all over.
- Serve hot from the oven, either drizzled with Tonkatsu Sauce or with a bowlful of it alongside for dipping.