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It has become a modern tradition for Japanese students to eat katsudon the night before taking a major test or school entrance exam. This is because "katsu" is a homophone of the verb katsu (勝つ), meaning "to win" or "to be victorious". It is also a trope in Japanese police films: that suspects will speak the truth with tears when they have eaten katsudon and are asked, "Did you ever think about how your mother feels about this?" Even nowadays, the gag of "We must eat katsudon while interrogating" is popular in Japanese films. However, as of 2019[update], police will never actually feed suspects during interrogation.
The tonkatsu for the katsudon dish is prepared by dipping the cutlet in flour, followed by egg, then dipping in panko breadcrumbs, and deep-frying. Next, into a boiling broth of dashi, soy sauce and onions, the sliced tonkatsu and a beaten egg is cooked.
Other bowls, made of cutlet and rice but without eggs or stock, may also be called katsudon. Such dishes include:
- sōsu katsudon (sauce katsudon): with tonkatsu sauce or Worcestershire sauce, from regions such as Fukui, Kōfu, Gunma, Aizuwakamatsu and Komagane
- demi katsudon or domi katsudon: with demi-glace and often green peas, a specialty of Okayama
- shōyu-dare katsudon: with soy sauce based tare sauce, Niigata style
- misokatsu-don: misokatsu on rice, a favorite in Nagoya
If pork is substituted with beef, it will be gyū-katsu-don. A variation made with chicken katsu and egg is called oyako katsudon, which is distinguished from oyakodon where the meat in the latter is not fried.
- Donburi: Japanese bowls of food on rice
- Tonkatsu: deep fried pork cutlet
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