If you are looking for a simple, satisfying and yummy meal that you can put on the dinner table and have everyone ask for seconds, then this is it. Tofu katsu curry is the perfect meal for cold or slightly warm winter evenings like we are having here in the Seattle area. This vegan version looks and tastes fancy like what you would have in a nice Japanese restaurant or maybe even a nice little restaurant on your vacation in Japan. I have never been but what I do know is we all lapped it up including my under 2 year old. I used typical vegetables used in Japanese style curry like potatoes, carrots, onions. Alongside the curry I served sticky rice for a super filling meal.
I remember the first time I had Japanese style curry. It was in a ‘Wagamama’ in Edinburgh a couple of years ago. It was our last night in the city and we had just been at the same restaurant for lunch. However we just couldn’t get enough and came back to wait in line for over 30 minutes to have more of their food. I loved the fact they offered so many plant based options which I find woefully missing here in the US unless you live in big urban areas. Anywho0 we were not going to give this all these delicious food a miss when we were there and loved every bit of it.
Katsu in Japanese refers to deep fried cutlet typically a meat based version. In this vegan version, I have made the tofu katsu to be served with the curry. If you dont want to use tofu, you could also make cutlets of veggies like potato, sweet potato, butternut squash or zucchini.
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Ingredients we need for tofu katsu curry
The ingredient list for is fairly simple and most of them are pantry staples excluding a couple of them.
Japanese Curry Roux/ Powder – Japanese curry has been influenced from the curry flavors that the brits brought from India although it has taken on flavors of its own. The curry is typically made with a roux or paste. There are very popular ones available on the market like S&B which comes in a variety of heat levels. I used a Japanese curry powder from a small business selling on Amazon and thought it was fantastic although a bit expensive for my taste(pun unintended).I have linked it here in case you want to try it. I would say experiment with a few brands and see which ones you like best.
Vegetables – The vegetables typically used are potatoes, carrots and onions. In fact you can forego the vegetables as well and just make the gravy. If using the vegetables, ensure they are cut around the same size to help cook them evenly.
Aromatics and condiments – I used ginger-garlic paste along with soy sauce, sugar and some tomato ketchup. You can use fresh garlic and ginger finely grated as well.
Corn Starch Slurry – This is optional but will make the gravy a little thick and extra creamy. You can also try using some potato or arrowroot starch.
Coconut Oil – I used it for a more authentic flavor but you could use any cooking of your choice.
Tofu – I used extra firm tofu since I wanted something robust that would stand up to all the breading and frying process. You can also cut them into triangles, circles or any shape you like for a fun twist.
Breading – I used a combination of oat milk, all purpose flour and panko bread crumbs. You can also use a vegan egg alternative like ‘Just Egg’. Panko bread crumbs are the flakier bread crumbs and add a unique texture to the tofu cutlets. If you want it to keep it gluten free, use a gluten free flour and bread crumbs.
Do I need to deep fry the tofu?
Deep frying is one of the options. You can also try baking or air frying the breaded tofu. Although I have not tried the latter two options, I am sure it will work. Once the tofu ahs been breaded, place on the baking rack or airfryer. Spray well with cooking oil and bake or air fry at 400 deg F for 20 minutes. Try baking/air frying a couple of pieces to see what temperature and time will work sicne it might vary depending on the appliance being used.
What do I serve the curry with?
Typically the Japanese curry is served with sticky rice or any Japanese rice. You can also serve with any steamed white or brown rice. Other options that work great would be quinoa for a more protein rich meal. As a side, you can serve some pickled daikon and ginger.
Do I need to make the cutlets to serve this curry?
No. You can aboslutely skip making the cutlets. You could also just add the tofu directly to the curry and just let it simmer for a few minutes before switching off the stove.
How to store or freeze leftovers?
You can store the leftovers in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat over the stove top or in a microwave oven. You can freeze in a freezer safe container and reheat in the oven for 40-45 minutes at 375 deg F.
This Japanese tofu katsu curry is a delicious meal thats perfect for these cold winter months or even warmer months if you live in the Southern Hemisphere. It might take a little bit of an effort but this restaurant style meal is absolutely worth making at home. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments in the comment section below. If you would like to follow along on social media, come find me on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest.
Tofu Katsu Curry
- 1 Small wok/ Kadai
- 1 medium sauce pan or deep skillet
- 1 Skimming spoon
- 2 large Carrots washed and peeled, cut in to 2mm coins
- 3/4 lb Waxy Potatoes washed and peeled, diced in to 1" pieces
- 1 medium Yellow or Red Onion peeled and diced in to 1" pieces
- 2 tbsp Ginger – Garlic Paste
- 1 1/2 tbsp Coconut Oil
- 1 tbsp Brown Sugar
- 3 tbsp Soy Sauce
- 2 tbsp Tomato Ketchup
- 2 tbsp Corn Starch
- 4 cup Vegetable Broth or Water
- 1/2 cup Water to make the corn starch slurry
- 3 tbsp Japanese Curry Powder
- Salt per taste
- 3/4 – 1 lb Extra Firm Tofu cut in to any shape of 1/4" thickness
- 1/4 cup Oat/Soy Milk
- 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
- Salt and Pepper per taste
- Heat a large deep skillet or a good sized sauce pan to 'medium low'. Add the coconut oil. Once the oil has melted, add the onions and saute for a 3-4 minutes.
- Add the ginger-garlic paste and keep sauteing for 2-3 minutes. Then add the potatoes and carrots. Saute regularly and let this cook for 3 minutes. Now add the curry powder or roux. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the stock or water and mix well. Add the soy sauce, ketchup, sugar and some salt. Mix well and cover the pan with a lid. Let the curry simmer for 20 minutes. Keep sauteing regularly to make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom or burning. Add some more water if required.
- While the curry is simmering, heat a kadai or wok. Add a cup of oil and let it get hot. Arrange the milk, flour and panko in 3 different plates close by. Season each of them lightly with salt and pepper. Also keep another bowl/cooling rack lined with paper towels to place the tofu katsu once cooked.
- Dip one tofu piece first in the all purpose flour followed by gently dipping all sides in the milk. Now finally place in the panko crumbs and coat all sides with it. You can also try dropping some panko on areas where you were holding it to esnure it is completely coated.
- Now drop this piece in the hot oil gently. After a couple of minutes, gently flip it over using a skimming spoon and fry the other side. Make sure the entire piece is a nice golden brown in color before transfering to the paper towel lined rack.
- Repeat this for the other pieces. You can also fry 2- 3 pieces at a time depending on how much oil or size of tofu pieces you are using. Also note, the oil will progressively get hotter so the later pieces might not need as much time to cook. Once done, remove the kadai and keep aside.
- Check the curry to see if all the vegetables are cooked. Season with more salt if required. Make a slurry of the corn stach and water. Ensure there are no lumps. Add this to the curry and mix well. You will be able to see the curry thickening in a minute or two. Turn off the stove.
- Serve the curry and tofu katsu along with sticky rice and some pickled daikon.
- Replace the tofu with vegetables like zucchini, sweet potato or butternut squash.
- You can make the curry without any vegetables as well.
- The number of cutlets is dependent on the shape you decide the tofu in to. I got around 8 1 1/2″ “rounds”.