If you’ve ever enjoyed a crispy, deep-fried cutlet at a Japanese restaurant, chances are you’ve also experienced the deliciousness of katsu sauce.
This sweet and tangy condiment is a staple in Japanese cuisine and is commonly used as a dipping sauce for dishes like Tonkatsu or chicken katsu. But what exactly is katsu sauce? What are its ingredients, and how is it made?
In this article, we’ll explore the origins and flavors of this beloved condiment and even provide you with an easy homemade recipe to try out for yourself.
So, let’s dive into the world of katsu sauce!
What Is Katsu Sauce?
Katsu sauce, also known as tonkatsu sauce, is a popular Japanese condiment that is typically served with fried cutlets like Tonkatsu or chicken katsu. It is a sweet and tangy sauce that adds a depth of flavor to any dish it accompanies.
The base of katsu sauce is typically made from a blend of Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and soy sauce. Other seasonings like garlic and ginger are often added to enhance the flavor. Traditional recipes may also include oyster sauce as an ingredient.
Tonkatsu sauce, on the other hand, is specifically served with Tonkatsu, which is a deep-fried pork cutlet. It is made from a variety of vegetables and fruits such as tomatoes, prunes, dates, apples, lemon juice, carrots, onions, and celery. Along with these ingredients, tonkatsu sauce includes more than 10 kinds of spices along with soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar.
Katsu sauce is versatile and can be paired with a variety of fried foods like Takoyaki, Ebi Fry, croquettes, or sandwiches. It can also be used to add a depth of flavor to other dishes like Hamburg Steak.
The Origins Of Katsu Sauce
Katsu sauce, or tonkatsu sauce, has its origins in British Worcestershire sauce. When curry was introduced to Japan by the British in the Meiji era, it sparked a trend of Western cuisine that included the concept of cutlets. The Bull-Dog brand of tonkatsu sauce was born and became a popular condiment for tonkatsu, a deep-fried pork cutlet dish.
The sauce is made by stewing vegetables and fruits, then mixing in vinegar and sugar, salt, and spices. While the sauce has its origins in English Worcestershire sauce, the flavor was changed to better suit the taste of the Japanese people. The primary ingredients in Japanese sauce are vegetables and fruits, to which vinegar and many spices are blended. This had the effect of deepening the richness and increasing the appetite. Japanese tonkatsu sauce uses a lot of vegetables and fruits like tomatoes and apples, which make it a highly viscous sauce well suited for deep-fried foods, without getting them greasy or soggy.
The Bull-Dog brand was the first to invent and introduce tonkatsu sauce in Japan. Oliver Sauce is another brand that produces tonkatsu sauce on the western side of Japan. Oliver’s sauces are not commonly available at the eastern Japan, so their shop is a good chance to experience the taste of tonkatsu sauce preferred in western side of Japan.
The Ingredients Of Katsu Sauce
Katsu sauce is made up of a combination of ingredients that work together to create a unique and delicious flavor. The base of the sauce typically consists of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce. These ingredients provide a sweet and tangy flavor that is essential to the taste of katsu sauce.
In addition to the base, katsu sauce also includes a variety of seasonings like garlic and ginger. These ingredients add depth and complexity to the flavor profile of the sauce. Traditional recipes may also include oyster sauce, which provides a savory umami flavor.
Tonkatsu sauce, which is specifically served with deep-fried pork cutlet, includes a variety of vegetables and fruits like tomatoes, prunes, dates, apples, lemon juice, carrots, onions, and celery. These ingredients are combined with more than 10 kinds of spices along with soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar to create a rich and complex flavor.
While it can be time-consuming to make katsu sauce from scratch, it is possible to create a delicious homemade version using simple ingredients like mirin, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and sugar. For those following a vegan diet, it is possible to make a plant-based version of Worcestershire sauce using apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, ginger powder, salt, and allspice.
The Flavor Profile Of Katsu Sauce
The flavor profile of katsu sauce is complex, with a perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess. The sweetness comes from the use of fruits and vegetables like apples, tomatoes, and carrots. The tanginess is derived from the addition of vinegar, which also helps to preserve the sauce.
The use of soy sauce in katsu sauce adds a depth of umami flavor that complements the sweetness and tanginess. Worcestershire sauce, another key ingredient, adds a slight spiciness to the sauce. Other seasonings like ginger and garlic enhance the overall flavor profile and add a subtle kick to the sauce.
How Katsu Sauce Is Made
Making katsu sauce is a simple process that can be done in just a few minutes. To make the base of the sauce, you’ll need to combine Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and soy sauce in a bowl. This will form the foundation of your katsu sauce.
From there, you can add other seasonings like garlic and ginger to enhance the flavor. If you prefer a traditional recipe, you can also add oyster sauce to your katsu sauce. However, if you’re not a fan of oyster sauce, it’s perfectly fine to leave it out.
For tonkatsu sauce, the process is a bit more involved. You’ll need to gather a variety of vegetables and fruits like tomatoes, prunes, dates, apples, carrots, onions, and celery. Along with these ingredients, you’ll need more than 10 kinds of spices along with soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar.
To make tonkatsu sauce, start by simmering the vegetables and fruits together in a pot until they become soft. Once they’ve cooked down, strain the mixture through a sieve to remove any solids. Then, add soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar to the liquid and stir well.
Finally, add the spices to the mixture and stir until everything is well combined. You can adjust the seasoning to your liking by adding more sugar or spices as needed.
While making tonkatsu sauce from scratch may be time-consuming, it’s worth it for the rich and complex flavor it adds to your dishes. However, if you’re short on time or don’t have access to all the necessary ingredients, store-bought katsu sauce is a great alternative.
Different Variations Of Katsu Sauce
There are several variations of katsu sauce that are enjoyed in different regions of Japan. One popular variation is the Nagoya-style miso katsu sauce, which is made with red miso paste, sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. This sauce has a slightly thicker consistency and a deeper umami flavor than traditional katsu sauce.
Another variation is the nutty katsu sauce, which is made with ground sesame seeds, soy sauce, and mirin. This sauce has a unique nutty flavor and pairs well with chicken katsu or even grilled vegetables.
For those who prefer a spicier kick to their katsu sauce, there is the spicy katsu sauce. This variation is made with chili paste or hot sauce, soy sauce, and honey or sugar. It adds a spicy and sweet flavor to any dish it accompanies.
Lastly, for those who prefer a sweeter version of katsu sauce, there is the fruity katsu sauce. This variation is made with fruit puree like apple or peach, along with soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. It has a sweet and tangy flavor that pairs well with pork or chicken katsu.
How To Use Katsu Sauce In Your Cooking
Katsu sauce is a versatile condiment that can be used in various ways to add flavor to your dishes. Here are some ideas on how to use katsu sauce in your cooking:
1. Dipping Sauce: Katsu sauce is an excellent dipping sauce for fried foods like chicken katsu, Tonkatsu, and shrimp tempura. It adds a sweet and tangy flavor to the dish, making it more enjoyable.
2. Marinade: Katsu sauce can be used as a marinade for meats like chicken, beef, or pork. Marinate the meat for at least 30 minutes before grilling or baking it for an extra depth of flavor.
3. Sandwich Spread: Katsu sauce can be used as a spread on sandwiches to add a unique flavor. It pairs well with chicken or pork sandwiches, adding a sweet and tangy taste.
4. Salad Dressing: Katsu sauce can be used as a dressing for salads, especially when cabbage is included. Mix it with mayonnaise or oil and vinegar for a delicious salad dressing.
5. Stir Fry Sauce: Katsu sauce can be used as a stir fry sauce for vegetables and meats. Add it to your stir fry towards the end of cooking for a sweet and tangy flavor.
6. Burger Topping: Katsu sauce can be used as a topping on burgers instead of traditional ketchup or mustard. It adds a unique flavor that complements the meat.