Ham Katsu is a deep-fried, panko coated cutlet made with thinly sliced ham. It is made the same way as Tonkatsu, but a thick slice of pork is replaced by a very thin, round piece of processed ham.
This is one of my nostalgic foods that I occasionally get an urge to eat. I must say the authentic Ham Katsu contains a very small amount of protein compared to the coating that consists of flour, egg, and panko breadcrumbs. But this unbalanced proportion makes the cutlet extremely crunchy.
About Ham Katsu
Ham Katsu originated in Japan after WWII. It is said that pressed ham was created after the war and people started frying it at delicatessen shops. Even low-quality cheap ham became delicious when deep-fried with panko breadcrumbs.
In the past, freshly cooked Ham Katsu were served by butchers along with Korokke, and often bought and eaten by children. I was one of them.
Perhaps because of this, Ham Katsu had connotations of cheap food, and ranked below the other cutlets such as Tonkatsu. During the high economic growth period in Japan, Ham Katsu was even called a poor man’s food.
It is indeed a cheap dish to make compared to Tonkatsu, and it became popular among common people.
The original Ham Katsu used a very thin slice of round ham with a thick panko coating. If you halve it, you can see a slice of paper-thin ham sandwiched in the thick crumbed coating.
These days, Ham Katsu uses a thick slice of ham, like ham steaks. Perhaps it tries to compete against Tonkatsu, but I must admit that I like the original thin version of Ham Katsu better than the modern Ham Katsu.
Today’s recipe is the panko breaded ham cooked just like how I remember it in my childhood, except that I used 2 slices of ham per piece of cutlet.
What’s in My Ham Katsu (Deep-fried Panko Breaded Ham)
- Thinly sliced pork ham (round shape)
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Oil to deep fry (not in the photo above)
I bought a pack of thinly sliced smoked ham, but you can use any round ham. The diameter of my ham was about 9cm/3 9⁄16″, the thickness was less than 2mm/3⁄32″. Because the ham is so thin, I used 2 slices so that you can really taste the ham.
You only need pepper for seasoning since the ham is already salty.
- Cabbage shredded
- Cucumber julienned
- Mini tomatoes
- Karashi mustard (or English mustard)
- Tonkatsu sauce
I added a small amount of Japanese mustard, karashi, as a condiment. It goes well with Ham Katsu. I made karashi from the karashi powder (the right photo above), but karashi paste in a tube (the left photo) is OK too. If you don’t have karashi, you can use English mustard.
I ate my Ham Katsu with fruity tonkatsu sauce, but you can use Worcestershire sauce or chūno sauce instead. I sometimes eat them without a sauce.
How to Make Ham Katsu (Deep-fried Panko Breaded Ham)
There is nothing special about making Ham Katsu. This is perhaps the easiest of all the cutlet recipes because you hardly spend any time on preparing the ham.
- Put 2 slices of ham together and season the surface of the ham with pepper.
- Coat the ham with flour, egg, and panko breadcrumbs.
- Heat oil to 170-180°C/338-356°F and deep-fry the crumbed ham until golden brown.
- Cut the round fried ham in half and serve with vegetables, karashi mustard, and a sauce of your choice.
Do not overcrowd the oil with too many cutlet pieces. If you are frying the cutlet in batches, remove the breadcrumbs in the oil using a fine skimmer before putting the next batch in the oil.
You are probably eating more breadcrumbs than ham, but this is the authentic Ham Katsu. It doesn’t stop you from using a thick slice of ham to make Ham Katsu, and the process is the same, except that you will need to deep-fry a bit longer.
You can also put a slice of cheese between the two slices of ham and deep-fry. The melting cheese is appetising.
What makes me smile when I bite into my Ham Katsu is the sound of the crunchiness that comes from the thick breadcrumb coating with the paper-thin ham.
Ham Katsu is a deep-fried panko coated cutlet made with thinly sliced ham. It is made the same way as Tonkatsu, but a thick slice of pork is replaced with a very thin, round piece of processed ham.
Cook Time assumes that one Ham Katsu is deep-fried at a time. If you fry two or four pieces at a time, the Cook Time will be halved or quartered respectively.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
- 8 slices thinly sliced ham (80g/2.8oz, note 1)
- 2 pinches pepper
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 egg
- 1⅓ cups panko breadcrumbs
- Oil to deep fry
Put two slices of ham together so that you can handle them as if it is one slice of ham. You will have 4 sets of ham.
Sprinkle pepper on both sides of each set of ham.
Take one set of ham at a time, coat the ham with flour then pat to shake off excess flour. Place the floured ham in the egg and coat all over (note 4). Transfer to the breadcrumbs and thoroughly cover the ham with breadcrumbs.
Heat oil in a frying pan or a shallow saucepan to 170-180°C/338-356°F. You only need 2-2.5cm/1” deep of oil.
Gently put hams in the oil without overlapping (note 5), and fry for 1-1.5 minutes. Turn them over and cook for another minute or so until the surface becomes golden brown.
Transfer the Ham Katsu onto a tray with a rack, or lined with a couple of layers of paper towel to drain excess oil.
Cut each Ham Katsu in half, making two semi-circle pieces (note 6).
Place shredded vegetables on one side of a serving plate and place 4 semi-circle Ham Katsu next to it. Put a knob of mustard on the side of the plate and serve with a sauce of your choice in a small jar or a bowl.
1. I used smoked leg ham, which weighed 10g/0.4oz per slice. It was round and about 9cm/3 9⁄16" in diameter. The thickness was less than 2mm/3⁄32". I used thinly sliced ham today so that I can make an authentic version of Ham Katsu.
You can use thicker ham to make the dish more substantial. You will need to deep-fry the thick Ham Katsu for a slightly longer period.
2. You don’t have to use mustard, but I think that it goes well with Ham Katsu. You can substitute Japanese karashi mustard with English mustard.
3. I like to use fruity thick tonkatsu sauce when I eat deep-fried crumbed dishes such as Ham Katsu, Tonkatsu, and Korokke. But you can also use a less fruity sauce such as chūno sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
4. The egg sometimes does not stick on the flour, especially when there is too much flour on the ham. It is important to coat the ham with the egg thoroughly so that the breadcrumbs can stick to the ham better.
5. Do not overcrowd the oil with too many Ham Katsu pieces. My pot could not take more than one, but if you have a large pan, you can fit more.
If you are frying the Ham Katsu in batches, remove the breadcrumbs in the oil using a fine skimmer before putting the next batch in the oil.
6. If you prefer, serve Ham Katsu without halving them.
7. Nutrition per serving. It is assumed that the oil absorption rate is 20%.
serving: 127g calories: 437kcal fat: 27g (35%) saturated fat: 3g (15%) trans fat: 0.2g polyunsaturated fat: 5.1g monounsaturated fat: 17g cholesterol: 119mg (40%) sodium: 683mg (11%) carbohydrates: 30g (11%) dietary fibre: 1.8g (6%) sugar: 2.7g protein: 17g vitamin D: 1mcg (4%) calcium: 81mg (6%) iron: 2.7mg (15%) potassium: 249mg (5%)