This Tofu Katsu Curry made with the crispiest panko fried tofu and a homemade thick curry sauce makes the best vegan comfort food!
Katsu Curry is one of our all-time favourite comfort meals. In the past, we used to make this using store-bought curry mix, but when we eventually ran out and were unable to find it locally, we tried to recreate this delicious curry from scratch! And what's better than making this simple recipe at home using fresh ingredients?
This vegan Tofu Katsu Curry recipe is super easy and makes the perfect comfort food for those who crave a delicious, healthy bowl of thick curry - and it's 100% vegan!
What is Katsu Curry?
Katsu curry is a popular Japanese curry which is made with panko-breaded pork cutlets (and sometimes chicken) and a thick curry sauce, typically served on a bed of rice. For this vegan spin of Katsu curry, I will be using tofu instead of pork or chicken. It's a great alternative to meat-based curry.
The curry sauce is made from scratch using basic, fresh ingredients. This simple dish is so delicious that I'll promise you'll be making this over and over - it's even better than takeout! You can easily adjust the "spiciness' and thickness of the curry sauce, making this recipe very flexible!
Ingredients and Variations for Tofu Katsu Curry
This recipe will be divided into 2 main steps: frying the tofu in panko breadcrumbs and making the curry sauce.
For the crispy panko-fried tofu, you will need:
Tofu - You'll need extra firm tofu for this recipe. Make sure to get the firmest you can find. Using soft tofu simply won't work for frying.
Cornstarch/cornflour and Flour - These will be mixed in cold water to create the batter.
Panko Breadcrumbs - Provide crispiness and texture to the tofu. Panko breadcrumbs are bigger than regular breadcrumbs resulting in a more crispy texture. If you can't get hold of Panko breadcrumbs, use regular breadcrumbs.
Oil - Use neutral-flavored vegetable oil such as canola or sunflower oil. You will need enough to cover the base of your frying pan and at least half of the tofu's thickness.
For the vegan katsu curry sauce, you will need:
Vegetables - You will need carrots, onion, fresh ginger and garlic for the base of the curry. You can substitute fresh ginger with ¼ tsp. of ground ginger and fresh garlic with ½ tsp. of garlic powder.
Spices - These provide flavor to the curry. You will need medium curry powder, ground turmeric, and red chilli flakes. Chilli is optional but gives the curry a spicy kick - you can adjust the amount as desired.
Sugar - To balance the spiciness. For this recipe, I used brown sugar but this can be substituted with granulated sugar.
Vegetable Stock - For liquid and flavoring. Use your favourite vegan vegetable stock. Chose low-sodium stock for reduced salt.
Coconut Cream/Milk - This makes the curry thick and creamy. Feel free to use either coconut cream (preferred) or coconut milk (for less calories).
Flour - You will need a bit of plain flour to thicken the curry at the end.
How to Make Panko-Fried Tofu
- Prepare the Tofu
Slice the tofu into ¾" thick squares. Use kitchen paper to do dry the tofu well before frying. Place paper towels under and on the tofu and press gently to remove as much water as possible.
- Make the Batter
Stir cornstarch in cold water until dissolved. Then, whisk in flour to form a thick and smooth batter. Place breadcrumbs in a separate shallow bowl or plate.
- Preheat Frying Pan
Place enough oil in a frying pan to cover at least half of the tofu's thickness. Bring oil to a sizzle on high heat.
- Fry Tofu
Dip each slice of tofu in batter, draining excess, and then coat well with panko crumbs. Carefully place tofu into hot oil and fry for 2-3 minutes on each size, or until golden brown. Transfer fried breaded tofu to wire rack to drain excess oil.
How to Make Vegan Katsu Curry Sauce
- Prepare your Vegetables
Peel and slice carrots into rounds, dice the onion, and finely dice garlic cloves.
- Saute Onion, Vegetables, and Spices
Heat some vegetable oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Saute onion on medium heat until soft and translucent (5-7 minutes).
Add carrots, garlic, ginger, and spices (turmeric, curry, chilli flakes), flour and sugar and saute for another 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add Stock and Cream/Milk
Add vegetable stock and coconut cream/coconut milk and simmer for 20 minutes or until carrots are soft and cooked through.
The curry should be quite thick. If you prefer a thinner curry, add more water.
- Puree the Curry
Let the curry cool down and puree in a stand blender (or using a stick blender), until the katsu sauce is thick and smooth.
How to Serve Tofu Katsu Curry
Serve this Vegan Tofu Curry with steamed Basmati or jasmine rice, topped with chopped fresh parsley, spring onions, and sesame seeds, as desired.
You may need to reheat the curry sauce before serving.
Making Ahead and Storing
Panko fried tofu is best made on the day since refrigerating or freezing fried tofu will eliminate it's crispiness and turns soggy.
The curry sauce can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in a refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can also make this in batches and freeze for up to 2 months.
Reheat the curry in a saucepan or microwave. You may need to add some water to thin the mixture.
Other Vegan Recipes
Vegan Tofu Katsu Curry
Panko Fried Tofu
- 300 g extra-firm tofu drained and pressed
- 75 mL water cold
- 40 g all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. cornstarch (or cornflour)
- 70 g panko breadcrumbs
- 120 mL vegetable oil (½ cup + extra) e.g., canola or sunflower oil *see notes
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 medium-sized onion sliced
- 2 large carrots sliced
- 2 cloves garlic finely diced
- ½ tbsp. all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp. fresh ginger minced
- ½ tsp. ground turmeric
- 1 tbsp. medium curry powder
- 2 tsp. brown sugar
- ⅛-¼ tsp. dried chilli flakes (as desired)
- 200 mL vegetable stock
- 4-5 tbsp. coconut cream (or coconut milk)
Panko Fried Tofu
- Drain and slice tofu in ¾"-thick slices and place on a flat plate lined with paper towels. Place some paper towels on top and press to remove extra water.
- In a medium-sized bowl, stir cornflour in cold water until dissolved. Whisk in flour until a smooth and thick batter is formed. Place panko breadcrumbs in a separate bowl or plate.
- Heat vegetable oil in a pan on high heat until sizzling (use enough oil to cover at least half of the tofu in thickness). You can use a small pan and fry the tofu in batches.
- Dip each tofu slice in the batter, then into the panko breadcrumbs, covering the tofu thoroughly and evenly. Carefully, place the tofu in sizzling oil and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to drain excess oil.
- Heat vegetable oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add onions and sauté for 6-7 minutes until soft and translucent.
- Add carrots, ginger, garlic, turmeric, brown sugar, chilli flakes, flour, and curry powder and sauté for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly using a wooden spoon.
- Add coconut cream and vegetable stock and simmer for 20 minutes on medium-low heat, or until carrots are soft and cooked through. Sauce should be thick for the curry. Add some water if you’d like a thinner consistency.
- Remove curry from heat and leave to cool. Once cooled, place in food processor/ blender (or use an immersion blender) and pulse until smooth (you may need to do this in batches).
- Reheat the curry sauce and serve with rice and fried tofu. Top with chopped parsley and sesame seeds as desired.