Katsu Sando



このブログ記事『Katsu Sando』には日本語版『カツサンド』もあります。こちら
This blog post is also available in Japanese.

Yesterday I made a Katsu Sando bento. Do you know Katsu Sando? Katsu Sando is a sandwich, Tonkatsu – Japanese deep fried pork cutlet – is sandwiched between 2 white bread slices and it is a very popular food in Japan. Many people think the bread for Katsu Sando should be a white and soft and very fluffy type of toast bread and I really agree. It is this combination of soft bread, thick and sweet-salty Tonkatsu sauce and crisp deep-fried Tonkatsu that makes this sandwich so delicious. Ummm… it is so mouth watering as I am writing this but I do get a sudden craving sometimes to eat good Katsu Sando. In Norway people prefer coarse and healthier types of bread and I have to start from baking a fluffy Japanese type bread but it is worth it!


A Japanese fluffy milk bread, I will give you the recipe in November. 🍞

While I am cutting my bread, Tonkatsu is in the hot oil. You may not associate deep frying in hot oil with Japanese cooking, but we do deep fry quite a bit. Crisp coat and juicy meat or fish is very delicious together.


In Japan, shredded cabbage is served together with Tonkatsu. Japanese cabbage is much more tender and easier to eat raw compared with our cabbage here. I think our cabbage here in Europe is mainly for cooking, we do have summer cabbage which is tender and sweet but its season is over and I used lettuce instead. It was just an ordinary iceberg lettuce and I shredded it finely by a sharp knife.


I did not put any butter nor margarine on the bread. Just a big big pile of shredded lettuce. A big pile. When Tonkatsu is cooled, you can put it in a small bowl and pour Tonkatsu sauce over it.


I think Tonkatsu sauce is one of the best cooking invention in Japan. Do you agree? The photo above is showing just a little bit of Tonkatsu sauce but I used much more sauce to coat all the crisp batter of Tonkatsu. It is not so necessary to put so much salt on the pork meat before you deep fry as this sauce will give good seasoning to the meat.


Then put the Tonkatsu on the pile of lettuce, press it down a little bit so that it will sit better. Then add another pile of lettuce on top! Wow! It is so tall! Put the other bread on and press it down softly. Do not squash it. Softly. Softly. And take the sharpest knife you have and say your prayer before you cut it in half.


Looks yummy. 🙂

Put them in your bento box, add some more sauce if you like. As the sauce will be soaked into the bread, I think the bread should have a good thickness.  I added carrot and cucumber stick salad and some cherry tomatoes in the box.


Bon appetite! Have a nice Katsu Sando!

xxx Rie


“Yudane” method of baking bread in Japan



Japanese toast for breakfast

The photo above was taken when my mom served me a breakfast one morning last year when I was visiting her. It is the Japanese style toast, super soft and fluffy. Norwegian bread is not like this at all, I have heard of a Norwegian student who went to Japan and thought the Japanese toast was more like a cake than a bread and they did not like it so much. Maybe this preference for a soft and fluffy type of bread is common in Asia, I see many bloggers in Hong Kong writing about the famous milk bread from Hokkaido and I still remember how popular it became to learn the bread making method using flour paste “Tangzhong – the secret ingredient originated from Japan” in the Chinese community after Yvonne Chen wrote about it in her Chinese bread baking book some years ago. Tagzhong is made by mixing flour and water at the rate 1:5 and heating the mixture up to 65℃. Cool it to room temperature and mix with the ordinary dough. The magic starts and It is as easy as that.

In Japan there is a similar way to bake a soft and fluffy bread called “Yudane 湯種”. It was a man named Mr. Saito, Product Developer of Japanese flour company Okumoto Co., Ltd., who invented this method for an industrial use and it has been protected by a patent owned by Japanese companies. I read the summery of the patent No. 3080368 of the Yudane method and when I compare the Chinese Tagzhong method to the Japanese Yudane method I find some differences but the principle of these two recipes is the same. The heat changes the β-starch in flour into α-starch and it uses the reaction of starch gelatinization which makes the starch sweeter. Bread made by this Yudane method tastes good and as the gelatinization keeps the moisture inside the bread’s softness lasts longer than regular kind of bread.

Although it is a patented method, the chemical reaction of starch gelatinization can take place in ordinary people’s kitchen. Good recipes of baking soft Japanese style bread using Yudane method have been widely available on Internet and I am not the only one who wanted to try it and enjoy Japanese style bread at home. But flours, water and yeast  are very different from country to country, I had to adjust the quantities according to the characteristics of the Norwegian ingredients after I tried 2 different recipes written by Japanese (semi-)professional bread bakers, and found the following recipe suits best (for my ingredients). Your ingredients may be different from mine and need more/less liquid than my recipe, but if you have not tried Yudane method before I recommend you to follow this recipe first and see how it goes. Then using this recipe as the base I hope you can develop your own recipe.

This recipe is enough to bake 1 loaf in a 9cm x 22.5cm x 6 cm baking pan.
Volume of the pan 1000 cc

Ingredients of Yudane

Flour                50g
Boiling water   50cc
Salt                    5g

Ingredients of ordinary dough
Skim milk with 0.1% fat  135cc
Sugar     15g

Flour   200g
Dry yeast      3g ( or fresh yeast  7.5g)

Unsalted butter  20g at room temperature

*  If you don’t get 0.1% fat milk, use skim milk powder 10g + water 135cc
** I am using flour with protein content of 11%


1.  Make Yudane.
Put the flour in a bowl and pour boiling water over it. Use a spoon and mix together to make a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least 4 hours. You can make Yudane the day before, too.

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2. 45 minutes before you start making bread, take the Yudane out of the fridge and let it sit in the room temperature.

Yudane after 4 hours
Yudane after 4 hours

3. Warm up the milk in the microwave to 28-29℃.  Add sugar and mix.


I give you a tip. This is handy to remember :
Temperature of flour + Temperature of liquid + Room temperature ÷ 3
and you add to it the temperature increase index according to what you are kneading the dough with. For example I am using a Kitchen Aid standing mixer and it increases the dough temperature about 5 ℃. My flour was at 22℃ + milk 28℃ + room temperature 21℃ ÷ 3 = 23.6
23.6 + 5 = 28.6℃
My dough will be finished at 28.6℃ and it is quite ideal.

If your kitchen is as warm as 30℃ your flour will be also 30℃ (let’s say it has been in your kitchen), you will need cold liquid in order to get the final temperature of 28℃. This is proven quite correct in Japan when they are making a bread in a home bakery machine in summer, they even use ice in order to achieve the ideal temperature as an electric home bakery machine increases the dough temperature as many as 9 degrees.

4. Mix flour and yeast in a bowl and pour the mixture of milk+sugar in. Use a spatula and bring it together. Add Yudane.

4. Knead all together. I am using my Kitchen Aid for 8 minutes at Speed 3. Add butter and mix 2 minutes more. When the dough is shiny, smooth and elastic and if it can stretch thinly without breaking or making holes, it is done.


5. Grease a small plastic container and put the dough in it. Let it proof it in it for 60-70 minutes. (I prefer a small container for the first proof as it seems to me the energy circulates better in a small space and it is easier to keep the warm environment)

Start of the proofing
Start of the proofing
End of the proofing
End of the proofing

6. Take the dough out on a clean surface. Dust with some flour.
Punch it down very softly and put it back in the container. Proof again for 30 minutes.

7. Take it out and divide it into 4 equal balls, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 20 minutes.

8. Roll out each ball with a rolling pin, make an oval shape, the length is about 30cm and the width is same as your baking pan’s width. Take one end of the dough and roll it up. Place the 4 rolls in your prepared baking pan.


9. Put plastic cover and proof again for 45-60 minutes or until the dough fills 90% of the baking pan.  Preheat your oven to 200℃

10. Spray some cold water on top and bake it at 200℃ for 20 minutes.


11. When it is done, take it out of the mold immediately.
Cool very well.


This is my Yudane recipe so far, and I am sure it will be evolving. I may find a different kind of method and I may use different kind of ingredients. Bread baking is a profound world and I hope you will enjoy exploring new recipes with me. Thank you!

xxx Rie


Japanese style Hambagu steak



Hamburger Steak or Hambagu (ハンバーグ) we call it in Japan, is a very popular dish both at home and restaurants. I think it is one of the most popular side dishes in bento as well. If you ask kids what is their favorite bento ingredient, many will probably say immediately “Hambagu!” 🙂  To me Hambagu reminds me of my childhood. My mom was very good at making delicious Hambagu in her kitchen. She made some variations time to time but her Hambagu was almost always with demi-glace red wine sauce. Later I came to Tokyo to study and had Teriyaki Hambagu with a fried egg on top for the first time. Wow, it was different from my mom’s but very tasty! I also like the very Japanese version of Hambagu with grated daikon and Japanese soy sauce seasonings as well. It is originally a western dish but it is something I am looking forward to eating in Japan as well. A famous meat shop in my home town Kanazawa makes wonderful Hambagu patties. They are not cooked, you can buy this seasoned and formed patty and cook it at home later. It is THE MEAT SHOP’S PROUD PRODUCT using generously the Japanese high quality beef from Matsuzaka. When the ingredients are at so high level of quality, it just can not go wrong!

Busy business districts in Tokyo all have good lunch joints for Hambagu. When you come to Japan and you like meat, I recommend you to try one of the lunch set menues with Hambagu and sticky Japanese rice and a bowl of miso soup all served on one tray. If you are joined by a bunch of busy Japanese  businessmen and office ladies, it is a good sign. Yes you are eating an authentic Japanese Style Hambagu Steak.

A variation calls for melting cheese on top

* Ingredients *  for 4 large Hambagu steaks

Beef ground meat   200g
Pork ground meat   200g
Onion              1
Panko           1/2 cup
Milk               3 table spoons
Salt               1 tea spoon
Pepper and Nutmeg      a little bit
Egg              1

Flour and salad oil
Sauce (red wine, ketchup, tonkatsu sauce, mustard) 


1. Mince the onion as small as possible. If the bits are large it does not mix with the ground meat well and the air will come in to crack the patty. I use my electric food processor to mince onion so well when making Hambagu.

2.  Heat a frypan, add some salad oil and sautee the onion for 15 minutes over medium heat. It maybe a long and boring process but hope you can manage. Turn off the heat, transfer the onion onto a plate and let it cool completely about 30 minutes.

3.  While you wait, mix panko and milk together in a small cup.

4.  When the onion is cooled, mix all ingredients in a large bowl.


Place a wet kitchen cloth on a table and put the large bowl on it (so that it won’t slip). Use your hand and mix well. When all the ingredients are mixed well, you go to the next step to knead. It should be like a well-combined soft meat dough. Just imagine your hand is a mixer and try to distribute the wet panko, egg and onion into every corner of the dough. Mix in all ingredients together so that you get one whole dough that is so well incorporated.


5. My Hambagu meat dough is very soft. When it is done you can wash your hand. Apply some salad oil on both your palms. Divide the meat mixture into 4 equal potions and form them like an oval-shaped patty about 1cm in thickness. Throw each patty back and forth in your hands to release the air inside. Give a thin coat of flour and use your finger to make a small indentation in the middle.

S4DSC_3758  S4DSC_3759  S4DSC_3760

I made small ones for bento!
I made small ones for bento!

6.  Heat a frypan over medium high heat, add some salad oil. When both the pan and the oil are hot place the patties and fry. Give them a good crisp brown crust on both sides. It probably needs to be fried 2 or 3 minutes each side. Keep your eyes on them and do not burn!!


When the both sides are nice and crisp, turn the heat down and cook for 4-5 minutes through the meat.  Right before it is done, turn up the heat and pour in 50cc red wine and put a lid on. Wine-steam for 2 minutes.   

7.  Take the hambagu steak on a plate.  Mix 2 table spoons of the meat juice (and red wine in it), 1 table spoon of ketchup, 1 table spoon of tonkatsu sauce and 1 tea spoon of mustard to make a sauce. Bon Appetite! 🙂

xxx Rie