What is a Pork Tonkatsu Flatbread?
Pork Tonkatsu Flatbread is a Middle Eastern / Japanese “pizza” of sorts. Soft flatbread is topped with fresh parmesan cheese and crispy pork tonkatsu and baked to a slight crisp. Thinly sliced cucumber along with a tonkatsu and tzatziki sauce is then added to the mix. As a finishing touch, the flatbread is topped with green onions and black sesame seeds.
Where’d It Come From?
Tonkatsu comes from Japan, though borrows many of its original characteristics from Western cultures. Flatbread can be traced back to the origins of bread which, before the advent of yeast and refined flour, were essentially all flat. Read on to learn more about the history of my favorite types of food – doughy, fried, and porky.
Origins of the Tonkatsu
Though many associate Tonkatsu with Japanese culture, it is the product of Western influence. During the Meiji period (1868 to 1912), Japan entered a “modernization” movement. In other words, the country began becoming Westernized and in came French and Italian influences. This says a lot about the name Tonkatsu as “katsu” comes from the Japanese word “katsuretto” (meaning cutlet), which could ultimately be tied to the French word “cotolette” or Italian word “cotoletta alla milanese.”
European-style cutlets gained popularity in Japan in the 1890s in restaurants that served youshoku (Western food). One restaurant in particular, Rengatei (which still operates today), found that frying the cutlets in butter was too oily. In came the adaptation of the Japanese “tempura” frying technique to the making of the dish.
Coining of the name most likely came later from Matsuzo Kisano. Matsuzo began by opening a French restaurant in Tokyo before focusing his efforts on a spot that specialized in Tonkatsu. The dish gained traction in the pre-WWII days due to Japanese soldiers’ love for dishes with high fat content.
Origins of Flatbread
The history of flatbread aligns to the history of well..bread! About 30,000 years ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth (just kidding, I’m not THAT bad at history – only pretty bad. That instills trust in you as the reader, no?). Let’s start over. About 30,000 years ago (at least), the first flatbread was made. Up to that point, prehistoric man was combining water and grains to make gruel. Then somebody came along and had the bright idea to fry it on a rock and alas the OG flatbread was born.
It wasn’t until leavening (yeast) and refined flour came into the mix were we able to fluff up our breads. But during the pre-fluff days, flat-type breads such as Middle Eastern pita, Indian naan and tortillas were the star.
How’s It Made?
Makes: 4 servings | Passive prep time: 30 minutes | Active prep/cook time: 45 minutes
¼ cup ketchup
1 tbs soy sauce
½ tbs brown sugar
½ tbs mirin
3 cloves minced garlic
½ tsp minced ginger
1 tbs salt
Handful of mint leaves
¾ cup greek yogurt
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs chopped dill
2 boneless pork cutlets / center-cup chops
1 tbs worcestershire
⅓ cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup flour
4 pieces of flatbread
1 ½ cup freshly grated parmesan
Black sesame seeds and chopped green onions for garnish
Make tonkatsu sauce by combining ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, mirin, ginger, and ½ clove of minced garlic. Mix, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Make the cucumber salad. Cut cucumbers first into quarters lengthwise, then into thin slices. Toss in salt and place into a strainer to sit so the liquid is extracted.
Meanwhile, make the tzatziki sauce by crushing remaining garlic with mint leaves into a paste. Combine with yogurt, lemon juice and dill. Cover and refrigerate cucumber and sauce in separate bowls.
Pound pork cutlets flat until it is ⅛-inch thick.
Whisk egg and worcestershire sauce together. In two additional shallow bowls, place panko and flour.
Dredge pork in flour first, then egg mixture, then panko.
Heat ⅛ inch of oil in a large pan. Pan fry pork for 3 minutes on each side. Slice pork into strips
Preheat oven 400 degrees.
Spray flatbread with water then brush with olive oil.
Top flatbread with parmesan and pork – bake for 8 minutes directly on oven rack.
Allow flatbread to cool for a few minutes before adding cucumber, drizzle of tonkatsu sauce, tzatziki sauce, green onions and black sesame seeds.