Shatteringly crisp, golden panko crusted cod in under 25 minutes? Yes! This crispy Japanese fish katsu recipe is the simplest, tastiest fish recipe there is. Pair it with rice and top it with the quick homemade katsu sauce used here or your favorite tonkatsu sauce for a fast and fabulous weeknight dinner!
Katsu is usually a Japanese fried chicken cutlet popular dish at Japanese restaurants. I've made mine with fish and it's simpler to make than you might realize. Easy enough for busy weeknights but pretty enough for weekends too.
This was inspired by my Crispy Corn And Crab Fritters With Spicy Mayo and Crispy Fried Oysters With Lemon Caper Aioli. Can you tell I like crispy seafood?! For a Japanese-inspired baked fish, try the crispy topped Easy Furikake Salmon.
And if you're wondering what to serve with katsu recipes, it's easy. Miso soup is a lovely light starter. A side of steamed rice is traditional, then pair it with a simple, crisp and salad like Spicy Mango Kani Salad or Apple Kale Slaw. Steamed edamame beans, bok choy or some drained Fermented Red Cabbage are other great side dishes for katsu.
How To Video
Fish katsu only uses 5 ingredients and if you want to make the katsu sauce, it's only 4 more simple ingredients. Easy, right?!
- Cod Fish Fillets - I made this using cod but any firm or fairly firm white fish fillet will work well for this. Halibut, rock cod and snapper are all great choices. If you use something like sole or tilapia, it may fall apart easier. To prevent this, cut the pieces smaller and use a large thin spatula to flip them gently.
- Flour and Egg - This creates the essential base to make the panko stick well to the fish. I've used all purpose flour but any wheat flour will work. Add these into separate shallow bowls along with panko to make a breading assembly line. (Unless noted otherwise, I use size large eggs.)
- Panko - These Japanese breadcrumbs are extra crispy and the give this fish some serious crunch. You can use plain or seasoned panko crumbs.
See recipe card for quantities.
This recipe takes only a few minutes of dipping your fish and even fewer minutes frying it! If you are going to cook rice, start it right before you start the fish. This popular Japanese rice bowl dish is a quick and rewarding recipe.
Pat fish dry with paper towels.
Feel for bones with your hands and if there are any remaining bones, trim them out.
Leave filets whole or cut larger fillets into desired size pieces and season fish lightly with salt and ground black pepper.
Note: Sometimes it's fun for kids if you make these in bite size-pieces and serve alongside their favorite fish dip.
To make your breading station, add flour, eggs, and Japanese panko breadcrumbs to separate bowls or plates. Beat eggs until frothy and well mixed.
Dredge each fish filet first into flour, then dip them into egg and finally coat fish in the panko crumbs.
Use your hands to press crumbs into cod filets to coat them as thickly as possible.
Pour vegetable or olive oil into your pan to fill it 1 inch deep. Heat oil over medium-high heat to about 350º, or until oil sizzles and pops when a drop of water hits it.
Gently lower pieces of fish into the pan, being careful not to splatter hot oil.
Fry the fish in batches until golden brown on one side (about 2 minutes), then flip, and repeat on second side.
Repeat with the second batch, cooking until all the fish has a nice crispy crust.
Remove crispy panko fried fish pieces from oil and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
To make homemade "cheater" katsu sauce, simply whisk all sauce ingredients together well and serve with your fried fish.
Serve this simple dish while hot with rice and a simple vegetable or shredded cabbage. I love to sprinkle over some toasted sesame seeds or chopped green onion/scallion and add lemon or lime wedges on the side.
If you don't like katsu sauce, try the wasabi mayonnaise or sambal mayo from my Crispy Crab Fritters And Spicy Mayo recipe.
Hint: Make sure your oil is HOT before you add your fish. The hotter the oil, the less the fish will absorb. This not only keeps your fish healthier, it also makes it crispier.
There are a few substitutions you can make if you need to.
- Bread Crumbs - instead of panko, you can use regular bread crumbs. They won't get quite as crispy but the flavor is still very good.
- Fish - Feel free to use your favorite boneless, skinless fresh fish. White fish is traditional but salmon is delicious too.
- Gluten-Free - Swap out regular panko and flour for gluten free versions. Kikkoman (the brand of panko I use) makes great gluten free panko.
Love this but want to change it up? Here's some great ideas!
- Spicy - Use spicy sriracha seasoned panko crumbs or make your own by adding 1 teaspoon or cayenne or hot chili flakes to your panko mix and stir through. Serve with sweet chili dip or sambel oelek.
- Katsu Curry - Top Japanese curry sauce with bite sized pieces of fish katsu for a bowl of Japanese comfort food at it's best.
- Japanese Fish and Chips - Instead of serving this with rice and katsu sauce, make a batch of French fries and serve fish katsu with tartar sauce.
- Fish Tacos - This fish katsu would go really well in these Easy Fish Tacos With Crema And Cabbage Slaw. Warm some tortillas and stuff them with pieces of crispy fish katsu, chopped cilantro, lime juice dressed slaw and a dash of hot sauce!
See this Roasted Miso Glazed Salmon for another delicious Japanese fish recipe.
No special equipment needed as usual. I love simple recipes and all you need for this one is a large heavy bottomed pan or skillet, a slotted spoon or spatula and a few bowls.
Fish katsu is best enjoyed fresh with it's crunchy coating and flaky soft interior. Leftovers will store well covered, in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To reheat fish, add it to a dry pan and turn it on medium to slowly warm up and heat the fish while crisping the panko coating. Flip it once while reheating.
Katsu sauce will keep well in the fridge, covered or stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving.
This recipe doesn't freeze well. It will become soggy and lose it's texture once thawed.
As always, buy the freshest fish you can find. Ask the fishmonger (or grocer) when the fish came in or how long it's been thawed for. Fresh fish is good fish.
If cod is not in season, use the best fish of the day or head to the freezer section for frozen-at-sea (FAS) fish. FAS seafood has been flash frozen at the peak of freshness and is often the best tasting and best quality option.
As a former fisherman and West Coast dweller, I love seafood. Here are some of my favorite fish, shellfish, and crustacean recipes.
For more on what I'm cooking up, follow me on Instagram or Facebook. You might also like my FREE printable weekly meal planner.
Cheers friends! Sabrina
As the Japanese say, Kanpai!
Crispy Japanese Fish Katsu
Crispy Fish Katsu
- 1.5 lb Cod Filets (6 small cod filets or 1.5-2 lbs boneless, skinless cod filets)
- ⅓ c All Purpose Flour
- 3 Eggs
- 2 c Panko (Crispy Bread Crumbs)
- Salt + Pepper To taste. I use 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper.
- Vegetable Oil For Frying Enough to fill pan 1" deep.
- ¼ cup Ketchup
- 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
- 2 teaspoon Sugar
Crispy Japanese Fish Katsu
- Pat fish dry with paper towels. Feel for bones with your hands and if there are any remaining bones, trim them out. Leave filets whole or cut into desired size pieces.
- Make your breading station: Pour flour onto a rimmed plate or shallow bowl. Add eggs and beat in a separate small bowl and pour panko crumbs, salt and pepper into a third bowl or plate. Mix panko, salt and pepper together well.
- Dredge each fish filet into flour. Then dip them in the beaten egg and finally roll them in the panko crumbs. Use your hands if necessary to press crumbs into cod filets and coat them as thickly as possible.
- Heat a skillet containing at least an inch of cooking oil over medium heat to about 350º, or until oil sizzles and pops when a drop of water hits it.Gently lower pieces of fish into the pan, being careful not to splatter hot oil. Fry the fish in batches until golden brown on one side (about 2 minutes), then flip, and repeat on second side.Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
Homemade Katsu Sauce
- Whisk all sauce ingredients together well and serve with fish.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended, especially hot oil.
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
Thanks for the recipe for Katsu Sauce. I have never had this sauce although I have made chicken in a very similar way.