Vegan Katsu Curry with Panko Tofu
Try out Steve Dent’s (The Circus Gardener) own vegan interpretation of katsu curry, one of Japan’s favourite western-style foods. This curry is delicious, easy to make, and full of flavour.
for the curry
- 15 g kombu
- 20 g dried shiitake mushrooms
- 2 onions, finely sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 cm piece fresh ginger, finely chopped clove
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 30 g cornflour
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 2 tbsp peanut oil
- 180 g Jasmine rice
- 300 g block firm tofu
- 100 ml cashew milk
- 125 g rice flour
- 100 g panko breadcrumbs
- half tsp sea salt
- peanut oil, for frying
- 4 spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
for the panko tofu
- Rinse and drain the kombu and dried shiitake, then place in a saucepan with 500 ml of fresh water. Bring to a simmer and then remove from the heat. Place a lid on the pan and leave it to cool and infuse for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve. Set the strained stock to one side.
- Cook the rice according to the instructions. Drain and set to one side.
- While the rice is cooking, make the katsu curry sauce. Pour two tablespoons of peanut oil into a large pan and place over a medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion is soft and translucent then add the ginger and garlic. Cook for a further two minutes then stir in the curry powder and turmeric. Add the cornflour and mix thoroughly. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, then add the reserved kombu and shiitake stock, a little at a time, each time stirring the stock into the other ingredients until the sauce is smooth. Once the stock has all been incorporated, stir in the soy sauce, salt, maple syrup and rice vinegar. Bring the sauce to a simmer, reduce the heat and cook for a further ten minutes, stirring frequently, by which time the sauce should have thickened. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the garam masala and set to one side.
- Set the block of tofu on a chopping board and working from one end use a sharp knife to cut off eight slices, each about ½ centimetre thick. Sprinkle the slices evenly with the salt then wrap them carefully in several layers of kitchen paper. Place the wrapped slices on a flat board or tray and place another board or tray on top. Place weights on top of this, in the form of kitchen weights or cookbooks. Leave for 30 minutes. This will help extract excess moisture from the tofu. Any tofu left on the block can be frozen for use on another day.
- Place three bowls alongside each other. Tip the rice flour into the first bowl, pour the cashew milk into the second and put the panko breadcrumbs into the third. Unwrap the tofu slices. One at a time, dredge each slice through the rice flour then dip it in the cashew milk, making sure to coat both sides. Finally, press the slice into the panko breadcrumbs, again making sure both sides are coated. Lay the completed panko tofu slices on a flat tray or board until you have coated them all.
- Gently re-heat the katsu curry sauce. Pour peanut oil into a large frying pan or skillet to a depth of around 1 centimetre. Place over a medium heat. When the oil in the frying pan is hot, carefully add the tofu pieces. Depending on the size of your pan you may need to do this in two batches. Fry the tofu for 3-4 minutes per side or until crisp and golden, carefully turning the slices over to ensure they are evenly cooked on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper.
- To serve, divide the rice between four bowls or plates. Add a generous ladleful of the katsu curry sauce, followed by two of the crispy panko tofu slices. Finally, scatter with the chopped spring onion.
Recipe & photo from Steve Dent AKA The Circus Gardener’s Kitchen