Vegan katsu curry with tofu

Vegan katsu curry with tofu

vegan katsu tofu portion

Do you know that feeling of frustration at seeing something that you know can be great done badly? Well, that’s exactly how this dish came about. I found out through one of the vegan Facebook groups that a particular UK chain does a vegan tofu katsu. People were excited about it, so I got excited too, told Duncan (who loves that dish) and, without further ado, we went to check it out for ourselves.

When a humongous (yet sadly very uninspiring bowl) of slop got placed in front of us, we wished we had gone somewhere else. We spent a good 30 minutes discussing how this dish could have been great had it been prepared with a bit of care and know-how and how it’s a shame so many places still treat vegan options as a complete afterthought. They clearly do not understand that a little care and imagination (as opposed to fancy ingredients) is all that is needed to make a cracking vegan dish.

I promised Duncan and myself then that I would make it for the blog, so here it is! What was wrong with the restaurant version, you ask? The tofu completely lacked texture – not only did they use silken instead of firm cotton tofu, they also covered it in the sauce, which meant that the usually crispy panko coating turned into a soggy mess. The sauce was bland and one dimensional – all you could taste was overpowering curry powder. The rice was bland, and there was no contrasting flavour or texture that this dish cries out for so much. There were no pickles, no salad and nothing to take your mind off what mediocre food you were paying for.

It’s such a shame as with so few places providing well thought-out and executed vegan options, once we find a place that we like, we are very loyal customers. As I kind of cook for a living, I really appreciate being cooked for for a change, but it’s gotta be worth leaving the house for, right? I will continue searching for a tasty vegan version of this famous Japanese curry, but in the meantime, here is my take on it. I’m not claiming it’s the most authentic version of this dish that exists, but it definitely delivers on taste and texture.

vegan katsu tofu frying

vegan katsu tofu cutting

vegan katsu tofu close

vegan katsu tofu cross section

vegan katsu tofu side

serves
4
PREP
30 min
COOKING
30 min
serves
4
PREPARATION
30 min
COOKING
30 min
INGREDIENTS
  • 400 g / 14 oz firm (cotton) tofu, pressed*
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce (or tamari for GF version)
  • all purpose flour / rice flour for GF version
  • salt
  • about 1 cup gelatinous aquafaba**, homemade or from a tin of chickpeas or ½ cup cornflour mixed in with water
  • 100 g / 3.5 oz panko breadcrumbs (or GF breadcrumbs if required)
  • oil for shallow frying (I used rice bran oil)

CURRY SAUCE

  • 2 tbsp neutral tasting oil
  • 1 white onion, finely diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 3 tsp ginger, finely grated
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
  • 4 tsp curry powder (I used hot madras curry powder)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 heaped tbsp white miso paste (GF miso for gluten-intolerance)
  • 4 tsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine) or maple syrup, to taste

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

METHOD
  1. Cut the tofu into 4 large slices. Place them in a shallow dish with 4 tbsp of soy sauce (or tamari), flipping them to the other side from time to time. Set aside to allow the tofu to infuse with the soy sauce.
  2. Heat up 2 tbsp of oil in a frying pan with a matching lid. Add diced onion and sauté until almost translucent. Add garlic and a minute or two later add ginger. Fry for another minute or two stirring frequently.
  3. Add the sliced carrot, diced apple, curry powder and garam masala. Stir around and fry off for a minute or two.
  4. Dissolve 1 tbsp of miso paste in 1 cup of warm water and add it to the pan.
  5. Simmer, on low heat (with a lid on) for about 10-15 minutes until the carrots and apples become soft.
  6. Transfer to an upright blender or use a stick blender to make a smooth, thick sauce. Season with tamari or soy sauce, rice vinegar and mirin. Add more water if the sauce is too thick.
  7. Prepare 2 large plates and one shallow bowl. Place flour on the first plate. Pour the aquafaba into a bowl and put the breadcrumbs mixed with ¼ tsp of salt onto the second plate. Alternatively, you could skip the flour and instead of using aquafaba prepare an egg substitute by whisking ½ cup corn flour / corn starch with ½ cup of water. If that’s what you decide to use, be aware than corn flour tends to drop to the bottom of the dish so you’ll need to give it a good stir before coating each piece of tofu.
  8. Fill a small frying pan or the bottom of a wok with frying oil and let it heat up.
  9. Coat each piece of tofu in flour, then in aquafaba and finally coat it in the breadcrumbs. Press the breadcrumbs into the tofu and shake each piece gently before putting it into the hot oil to allow excess breadcrumbs to come off. If using a cornflour solution, coat each piece in the cornflour mixture and then in the breadcrumbs.
  10. Once the oil heats up, it’s important that it is hot enough (a breadcrumb thrown into it should sizzle immediately), fry each piece of tofu for about 2 minutes on each side – until the coating becomes golden brown. Place the freshly fried pieces on a plate lined with a kitchen towel to get rid of excess oil.
  11. Serve with rice, a simple green salad and a generous amount of curry sauce.

NOTES
*To press the tofu without a tofu press, wrap your tofu in a paper towel, place it on a plate and weigh it down with something heavy (like a can of coconut milk, for example). Once the paper towel becomes wet, change it for a new one. Repeat a few times until the paper towel stays almost dry. Pressed tofu is tastier as it absorbs flavours better.

**For this particular application, aquafaba (chickpea brine) should resemble an egg white in consistency so I recommend making it yourself – here is how or reducing over a low flame if you are using one from a tin of chickpeas. I cook my chickpeas and then leave them in the pot for a few hours, which makes aquafaba gain more strength as it sits around – often that is enough to make it quite thick and jelly-like. If not, I pour it into a small pot and reduce over a low flame some more.

My recipe is an adaptation of my previous katsu recipe.

SHARE
NUTRITIONAL INFO
calories
463
23%
sugars
10 g
11%
fats
13 g
18%
saturates
2 g
9%
proteins
21 g
41%
carbs
66 g
25%
*per serving
How would you rate this recipe?
This is a test string

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

5.0
12 reviews, 36 comments
REVIEWS & QUESTIONS
Jen:
I hate to be this person because this kind of stuff annoys me but I am highly allergic to fenugreek. It is in almost every curry powder I can find. I have a curry paste that is without it. How much would I sub in for the powder? Thank you in dance. This looks delicious!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Jen,
    It's not a problem and I would love to help but as I've never used any katsu paste so I cannot advise you on how much to use, you'll need to go by your taste buds. Start with a small amount and increase if necessary. Ania
Alisha:
Love, love, LOVE this recipe. And so do all 3 of my kids! This is something I would have looked forward to ordering on a rare night out for dinner, am very happy to have found this epic recipe so I can enjoy it more frequently at home... it is making repeat appearances at the table already. Your recipes are fabulous!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thank you for your kind words, Alisha! I’m so happy to hear that both you and your kids enjoyed this recipe and many thanks for taking the time to leave this lovely review – I really appreciate it. x Ania
Natalia Becerra:
This recipe is now one of my top 10 all time favourite. I loved how it was so easy and it actually tasted better than it looked (which is pretty difficult because its a really beautiful dish). Thank yoooou so much for this recipe. The crunchy tofu is something I have had a hard time with, but this one was a complete success (I did it with cornstarch, corn flour and panko). Thank you once again
    Ania
    Ania:
    Aw, thank you so much, Natalia! I'm so happy to hear that this recipe is such a winner in your books! That's very motivating to know, thank you. x Ania
Karen Wakeham:
Favourite go to recipe for sure!
Is there any estimation of the nutritional values of this meal? No sweat of not! Thought I'd ask :)
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Karen,
    That's lovely to hear, thank you. I am unable to provide nutritional values for my dishes for the time being, I'm afraid. Ania
Kathleen Kidd:
hi, Ania , can the tofu be frozen after its coated and cooked please, I am on my own and couldn't eat the whole tofu block on my own in one sitting.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Kathleen,
    Honestly, I've never done that, but I am guessing that it should work fine. It *may* be nicer fried straight from frozen, it's worth trying on a piece I reckon. Ania
Andy:
A delicious recipe, such delicately balanced flavours. Many thanks! I’m wondering if it could also work nicely with smoked tofu?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Glad to hear, Andy! I think that other flavours may overpower the smokiness, but give it a go and decide for yourself, why not? Ania
philip Andrews:
Love the recipes - but haven't tried them yet. When I do, I will combine the Aubergine & Tofu. Is the sauce the same? Just a quick query - is the teaspoon a "flat" teaspoon or a "heaped" teaspoon? I always say which when I write a recipe down. Flat is best, because (as long as you're using a measuring spoon) it's more accurate.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Philip,
    I hope you'll enjoy the recipe (yes, the sauce is roughly the same). Tsp typically means flat unless specified otherwise (heaped). Hope that helps! Ania
Lauren:
We just had this for our tea and my omni partner and I absolutely loved it! It was that good I forgot to take a picture because I was too excited to eat it, but thank you so much for this recipe - amazing!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Aw, I'm delighted to hear that, Lauren! Your comment put a big smile on my face, thanks so much for taking the time to let me know that it was such a success! x Ania
Hannah:
What a great dish - my whole family (including my meat loving husband) loved this curry. Thank you for this great recipe and your detailed, easy-to-follow instructions. Hannah
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks so much, Hannah! I'm delighted to hear that! x Ania
Pippa:
Made this last night and the whole family absolutely loved it, teenagers, 7year old and adults. I’ve been asked if we can have it every day.
I made extra and hubby has taken it to work for his lunch.
    Ania
    Ania:
    I'm delighted to hear that, Pippa! And thank you for taking the time to leave us such lovely feedback! Ania
Graeme:
Hi thanks for the recipe I liked the vegan bolognese and going to try this next... Can I use the leftover cooked chickpeas from making the aquafaba to make hummus?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Yes, absolutely!! Or you can pan fry them in spices like this. Glad to hear that you are enjoying my recipes! Ania
Katie:
Absolutely awesome! Made this twice now and it’s fast becoming a weekly favourite in our house, love the flavours and textures! Thank you 🙏
    Ania
    Ania:
    That's awesome to hear, Katie! Thanks so much! Ania
Kristin:
yum! sorry you had a bad experience at the restaurant, but i'm glad it inspired you to create this delicious-looking dish!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks for your kind words, Kristin! Ania
Jessica:
This recipe was amazing! Thank you so much! Is it possible to freeze the curry sauce? As I have heaps left over. Will definitely be making more if your dishes 😍
    Ania
    Ania:
    I'm delighted to hear that, Jessica! Yes, absolutely, the sauce will freeze well. Ania
Carolyn:
How do you get the tofu shape in your images? Do you slice through the tofu horizontally? That would seem to make verrrry thin tofu.
It may be that tofu is packaged in the US differently, I don't know...
Thanks!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Carolyn,
    Yes, I think that's probably it, the tofu block I used here is quite tall. I cut it horizontally and then sliced on the diagonal. Ania
Jeremy:
Just served this up to my Japonphile family....total success! Lovely recipe, really enjoyed eating and making it. Thank you!!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thank you, Jeremy! I'm delighted to hear that! :) Ania
Natascha:
Dear Ania, and a nice recipe from you which was a full success at home when I made it tonight! The sauce is simple but very good. Never thaought that an apple and carrots would give such nice flavours and texture. I made the tofu with corn flour, I have no possibility to use the chickpeas cause we go on vacation tomorrow. But will try this next time definitely!
Great, delicious and good meal, thanks! My daughter liked it as well and she hates cooked carrots. ; )
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks for your lovely comment, Natascha! I'm delighted to hear that both you and your daughter enjoyed it. Ania
I made this tonight and we loved it! The sauce is perfectly balanced and goes so nicely with the crispy fried tofu . I'll definitely make it again.
    Ania
    Ania:
    I'm delighted to hear that! Thank you for taking the time to leave such nice feedback! Ania
Daniela:
Do you think its possible to try baking the tofu instead of pan frying it? Love this recipe a lot though, curry is one of my favorite foods and being able to see a vegan recipe for a meatless version, (with tofu - which I LOVE), makes me very happy! :D
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Daniela,
    Yes, it is but in my opinion, the results as not as nice as when it's shallow fried. I tried both baking and frying for this recipe. Hope that helps! Ania
Kelly:
Do you have the nutrition facts for this recipe? It looks sooo good but I am currently counting macros and would like to know how it would fit in.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Kelly,
    No, we don't, I'm afraid. We’ve looked into that, but unfortunately there is no plugin that provides reliable nutritional value calculations, and so the only way to provide them is to research every single item and do the calculations manually. Given that I have over 300 recipes on my blog calculating it and updating all by hand is a massive job, as you can probably imagine, and I simply don’t have the time to do that at this moment. Sorry and thanks for your understanding! Ania
Sally:
That's great to hear, what an excellent decision you both made to move on.. and so few of us have had the guts and imagination to live the dream of an 'idyllic island'. However much we might fantasise about it.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Aw, thanks, Sally! You are so kind. Yes, it was a bit of a crazy decision, but it has resulted in lots of positives (including this blog) so we have no regrets at all :) Ania
Sally:
You may have left the vivid Greek light Ania but your photography has lost none of its eye popping colour and brilliance! Hope Duncan's and your health problems are fully resolved in the UK setting.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Aw, thanks so much, Sally, that's so lovely of you to say. I miss beautiful Greek light, I must say, but the light here is pretty good on a clear days here too. Thank you for asking after Duncan's health, he has recovered completely after about a 3 weeks of being here, so that was a massive relief to us both. Greetings from snowy Bristol! Ania
Jess @choosingchia:
So smart to use aquafaba to coat the tofu! This dish looks so delicious Ania!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks, Jess! Aquafaba is awesome for so many things, I've been a big fan of it for some time now. Ania
Shawn Takada:
OMG! You read my mind. The other night my Omni Japanese husband made vegan curry and he added tonkatsu for himself. I was thinking that there had to be a way to make it with tofu and here it is! Can’t wait to try this, thank you!
    Ania
    Ania:
    My pleasure, hope you'll enjoy it! x Ania
DON'T MISS A SINGLE RECIPE
Join our mailing list and we we will let you know when we publish a new recipe. You'll receive our DELIGHTFUL DESSERTS E‑BOOK as a thank you for supporting us.