This vegan katsu curry is a tasty version of the popular Japanese dish, made with crispy breaded tofu and an aromatic curry sauce.
I love a good vegetarian curry, but this vegan katsu curry is a bit different to the curries I usually make. With crispy breaded tofu and a creamy, aromatic sauce, all served with fluffy white rice… it’s got a bit of everything.
What is a katsu curry?
Unlike most of the curries I share here, which are more Indian-inspired, a katsu curry is actually a Japanese dish! Curry was brought to Japan by the British in the 1800s (since India was, at the time, part of the British Empire). It’s since become hugely popular in Japan, even becoming a national dish.
These days, a katsu curry is a popular dish at the Japanese restaurant Wagamama.
This vegan katsu curry has pieces of crispy breaded tofu (the non-veggie version usually uses chicken or pork), served atop a fragrant curry sauce. Fried aubergine works really well too! The breadcrumbs stay crispy on top, and start to soak up the curry from underneath – best of both worlds!
Easy Japanese recipe
I can’t say I’m overly familiar with Japanese food – I’ve shared a few Japanese-inspired recipes here in the past (okonomiyaki, veggie tempura, teriyaki mushrooms), but it’s certainly not one of my go-to cuisines to cook.
Luckily, this tofu katsu curry is super simple – you don’t need to know anything about Japanese food to make a good katsu.
I’m not promising this recipe is authentically Japanese (in fact I’d be very surprised if it was), but if your aim is to cook an incredibly tasty katsu curry with minimal effort, you’ve come to the right place.
Crispy breaded tofu
To begin, get started on the crispy tofu. Rather than using the usual flour-egg-breadcrumbs combination to bread the tofu, I kept this curry vegan by using a simple batter in place of the egg.
It’s actually the same basic batter that I used to make my crispy tofu ‘chicken’ nuggets – it worked so well on those that I knew it would be perfect for this vegan katsu curry!
Just dip the tofu in the lightly spiced batter, then into the breadcrumbs. I used panko breadcrumbs, which are a light and crispy Japanese version. They’re usually pretty easy to find in the shops, but you can use normal breadcrumbs instead if you prefer.
Simple katsu curry sauce
While the tofu is getting nice and crispy in the oven, fry off some onion and carrot.
Then it’s time for a few more ingredients to add heaps of flavour to the curry sauce – garlic, honey, soy sauce, curry powder, pepper… they all combine to make the most wonderfully aromatic sauce. It has such a beautiful flavour.
If you don’t have a blender, you can serve the sauce chunky, but I think it’s nicer to blend everything into a thick, fairly smooth curry sauce. I left a little texture in mine, but make it as smooth as you like.
Vegan katsu curry
That’s all there is to it! Your vegan katsu curry is ready to serve.
Rice is essential for soaking up the sauce (what good is a curry without rice?), but you have a bit more freedom when it comes to your choice of veggie.
Katsu curry is often served with cold, raw vegetables like cucumber, carrot, pepper, even lettuce. But personally, the idea of a warm curry sauce on lettuce isn’t too appealing, so I went for a warm veggie side instead – just some simply boiled edamame (soy beans). They’re perfect mixed in with the rice and creamy sauce.
And there you have it! Have you ever tried making a Japanese curry? I hope this vegan katsu curry has convinced you to give it a try!
Vegan katsu curry
For the breaded tofu:
- 400 g (~ 14 oz) block extra firm tofu
- 100 g (~ 2/3 cup) plain flour
- 1 tsp curry powder
- Black pepper
- 130 ml (~ 1/2 cup) water
- 90 g (~ 1 1/2 cups) breadcrumbs (I used panko breadcrumbs)
- Spray oil
For the katsu curry sauce:
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 medium red onion, finely diced
- 1 medium carrot, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 375 ml (~ 1 1/2 cups) vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp honey or agave nectar
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
To serve (optional):
- boiled edamame (soy beans)
- First, cut the tofu into slices. My slices were around 1 1/2 cm thick, and I ended up with 7 slices in total (but 6 slices would have actually been easier to portion out!). Press any excess liquid out of the tofu – if you don’t have a tofu press, you can just lay the slices inside a folded (clean!) tea towel, place a baking tray on top, then a large pan full of water. The weight will squeeze the tofu, helping it to dry out. Leave for 10 minutes or so while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
- In a small bowl, combine the flour with the curry powder and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Add the water, and mix thoroughly to give a smooth batter. You can add a little more flour or a dash more water to adjust the consistency – it needs to cling to the tofu, so should be fairly liquid, but not overly runny.
- Place the breadcrumbs in another small bowl.
- When the tofu has been pressed, dip each piece into the batter, and allow any excess to drip off. Then coat the tofu in the breadcrumbs. Place all of the slices on an oiled baking tray, and bake at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) for around 30-40 minutes, or until crisped up to your liking.
- While the tofu is baking, prepare the katsu curry sauce. Heat a dash of oil in a large frying pan, and add the finely diced onion and carrot. Cook for 5 minutes, until the onion is fairly soft. Add the garlic and spices, and cook for 2 more minutes, before adding the remaining ingredients. Bring to a gentle simmer, and cook for another 15 minutes or so, until the carrot is completely soft.
- Remove the bay leaf from the sauce, and blend until it reaches your desired consistency (I used a hand blender).
- Serve the crispy tofu with the katsu curry sauce, and your choice of side dishes (I had rice and boiled edamame).
Note: Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose. Information above is for 1/3 of the recipe, not including side dishes.