The katsu sando has been a phenomenon in Japan for decades but we're now seeing it all over our Instagram feeds.
Crustless sandwiches. They were all you ever wanted as a child and now, thanks to millennials being drunk on nostalgia - and Japan - they are now something you can enjoy as an adult.
They aren't just any old crustless sandwiches, though. As good-looking as they are tasty, katsu sandos are having a moment right now. These precise and picturesque sandwiches have long been an institution in Japan, but they’re now clocking up serious capital on the world of Instagram and beyond, too.
In fact, they’re so revered as a foodie trend that TÓU, a restaurant dedicated entirely to the sando concept, will open in London this summer.
But let’s back up a bit, in case you follow more dogs dressed like food accounts than you do food bloggers.
What exactly is a katsu sando?
Well, ‘katsu’ means cutlets and ‘sando’ is the Japanese abbreviation for 'sandwich' – so essentially it is two pieces of Japanese milk bread (shokupan) wrapped around a breaded meaty cutlet. It’s most often made from pork, but beef and chicken are sometimes also used, along with veggie versions in the form of halloumi, or Japanese omelette and katsu aubergine and slathered with a thick yet zingy sauce (tonkatsu).
The breading of the meat makes each square inch of the cutlet super crunchy. The tonkatsu sauce cuts through the richness of the cutlet and lends some depth, as well as adding a little moisture so it’s not a sad, dry sandwich. The shokupan protects the roof of your mouth from hot meat and rough breading which is a common problem people face with their everyday deli roll. It all adds up to a dish that looks as harmless and dainty as an afternoon tea sandwich but delivers all the intense meaty joy of a chicken fillet roll.
If you’re thinking the katsu sando sort of looks similar to a schnitzel, then you’d be right. The sandwich first appeared in restaurants and cafes way back in 1899, and it was indeed, inspired by the schnitzel.
However, it is back on the food scene with a vengeance: indeed, you might say the katsu sando is the ultimate holy grail of any food-snapping Instagram user right now.
While the sandwich trend is taking over Instagram feeds quicker than lightning, it seems it's a little slower to take off in Irish restaurants, with Gertrude on Pearse Street one of the few places offering its own delectable version.
Want to try your hand at making your own katsu sando? Check out the recipe below.
- 1 Cup of Panko Breadcrumbs
- 1 ½ Tbsp Vegetable oil for frying
- 8 slices of thinly sliced pork
- Salt and crack black pepper
- 1 egg, beaten
- Handful Shredded cabbage
- 2 tbsp flour
- 4 slices Shokupan (Japanese loaf bread)
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 4 Tbsp Tonkatsu sauce or Chicken Katsu
- Layout your slices of bread and season with salt and pepper.
- Lightly flour the pork, dip it in a beaten egg and then cover in breadcrumbs (while keeping one hand dry).
- Fry the pork in a non-stick pan with vegetable oil until golden brown.
- Remove from the oil and drain.
- Spread one side of bread with butter and one side of two slices of bread with mustard. Place cabbage on the bread and then place the pork on top. Cover them in sauce and then finish with the final slice of bread on top. Slice off the crusts.
Have you tried a katsu sando before? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments below.
This article originally appeared on our sister website Irish Tatler.