This Tofu Katsu Curry is a simple, but very tasty dish. Extra firm tofu is coated in panko breadcrumbs and then fried until crispy. Served with a homemade Japanese-style curry sauce, sticky rice and some veggies, this is my kind of vegan comfort food.
This vegan tofu katsu is a regular on our weekly rotation. It's a firm, family favourite that always goes down a treat. The crispy breaded tofu is cooked to perfection and the katsu curry sauce is so delicious, I could easily just eat that straight out of the saucepan!
To suit the whole family I make this dish mild enough for everyone to enjoy it. But that doesn't mean it scrimps on flavour! This is my interpretation with a vegan spin on this very popular Japanese dish. I hope you love it as much as we do. And if you like Japanese-inspired food then you may also like my Miso Aubergines.
🔍 What Is Katsu?
Traditionally Katsu is a crispy fried cutlet of meat or seafood made with flaky Japanese panko breadcrumbs. It is very similar to a German schnitzel, Katsu is one of many Western foods that has been adopted and adapted to suit local tastes and has become a key part of Japanese cuisine.
According to Nami from Just One Cookbook, Katsu Curry (カツカレー) is a combination of Japanese Curry and a panko-breaded cutlet. It is the ultimate comfort dish in Japan. We couldn't agree more, it is perfect comfort food.
🛒 What You'll Need
- Tofu - Extra-firm tofu is best for this recipe. You will find it in all the big supermarkets now. I use an extra-large block of tofu.
- Curry Powder - If you're not familiar with curry powder, it is a blend of spices similar to garam masala. I wouldn't substitute this powder for garam masala though. You will find this in the spice section of your supermarket. The brand I use is Sharwoods, just in case you are looking online for it. I have made this curry sauce with mild or medium curry powder and the mild powder wins every single time.
- Vegetable Stock - I make my stock using a level teaspoon of vegan vegetable bullion and 300 ml of freshly boiled water.
- Panko Breadcrumbs - These breadcrumbs are Japanese but are widely available in bigger supermarkets. They are crispier than regular breadcrumbs and perfect for making katsu.
- Coconut Milk - Full-fat coconut milk is best here, but you can also use low-fat coconut milk if you want.
🔪 How To Make Vegan Tofu Katsu Curry
This is just a quick visual step-by-step guide. Please see the recipe card below for the full instructions
- Press the tofu. You can do this by using a tofu press or by applying weight to the tofu to remove any excess water. I do this by placing the tofu in a single layer on a baking tray lined with paper towels. Cover the tofu with more kitchen paper and place another baking tray on the tofu. Next, I add 4 tins of beans on the top tray and leave it to sit for about 40 minutes. When you remove the cans and the top tray you will see that the paper towels have absorbed the excess moisture.
- Heat some oil in a large pan, add the onion and a pinch of sea salt and cook for a few minutes over low to medium heat. Add the carrots and cook until the onions are soft and the carrots are tender. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until they release their aromas, just a minute or two.
3. Add the curry powder and the turmeric and cook for a minute. Then add the flour and stir well. Cook for a minute then pour in the stock slowly, stirring all the time.
4. Reserve 4 or 5 tablespoons of coconut milk then pour the remaining coconut milk into the sauce. Stir in half a tablespoon of soy sauce and one or two teaspoons of maple syrup. Season with salt and pepper and leave to simmer. Stir often to avoid burning. Once the sauce is nice and thick you can blend the sauce in a blender when you are ready to serve it.
5. Add plain flour to a shallow bowl, dip the sliced tofu into flour making sure it is completely coated in flour. Then dip it into coconut milk. Finally, dip the tofu into the panko breadcrumbs. Repeat with the remaining tofu.
6. Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan to medium-high heat then cook each piece of tofu until both sides are golden brown. 2-3 minutes each side should do it. Repeat until you have cooked all the tofu. Keep the tofu warm in the oven, until you are ready to serve.
🍽 How To Serve Tofu Katsu Curry
I usually serve this with sticky Japanese rice, thin slices of radish, spring onions and some fresh coriander. Add the rice to a large bowl, pour in some of the curry sauce then top with the katsu tofu. I usually slice the tofu before I place it on the rice.
👩🍳 Top Tips and Recipe Notes
- Drain the tofu first - I always drain my tofu. Tofu comes packaged in liquid and you want to get as much of that liquid out of your tofu as possible.
- Reserve some coconut milk - as this dish is vegan I don't use egg to coat the tofu. Instead, I have found that using coconut milk to coat the tofu works incredibly well. And it tastes amazing! So I reserve 4 or 5 tablespoons of coconut milk and then pour that into a bowl. After dipping the tofu into some well-seasoned flour, I dip it into the coconut milk. Make sure the tofu is fully coated in the coconut milk before you dip it into the panko breadcrumbs.
- Blend the Japanese curry sauce - Once the curry sauce is nice and thick I blend it just before I serve it. This will give you a very smooth almost creamy curry sauce. You can skip blending it if you want but I highly recommend mixing it.
- Add in more veggies - You can easily add more veggies into the sauce if you want. Peppers work well as do frozen peas. I sometimes add some cooked potatoes to the sauce too which I enjoy. I would skip blending the sauce if I add in extra veggies.
- Keep the tofu warm - While I'm preparing the rest of this dish I keep the katsu tofu warm in the oven. This has the added benefit of making the tofu even crispier!
This curry is great for freezing. You will need to freeze the sauce and the tofu separately. Freeze the katsu tofu before cooking. To freeze the tofu, place it on a tray then place the tray in the freezer. After an hour or two transfer the tofu to a suitable freezer container.
Defrost the tofu in the fridge overnight then cook on the hob. To freeze the sauce, leave the sauce to cool then transfer to suitable containers. You can freeze individual portions if you wish. Defrost the sauce overnight in the fridge then reheat on the hob or in the microwave. Both the sauce and the tofu will keep in the freezer for up to two months.
If you don't like tofu you could use thick slices of aubergine/eggplant instead. Or you can use your favourite breaded vegan cutlet. Just cook the vegan cutlet according to the pack instructions and serve with the sauce.
🍴 More Tasty Vegan Recipes
- Sweet and Sour Tofu - Crispy tofu in a sticky homemade sweet and sour sauce with pineapple and peppers. Just serve with rice for a very tasty vegan dinner
- Red Lentil Dahl - Easy to make, warming and comforting this dahl with spinach is the perfect comfort food. This tasty curry is naturally gluten-free, vegan, and very budget-friendly.
- Chickpea and Lentil Curry - vegan, gluten-free and only takes 30 minutes to make this is perfect for a weeknight dinner or great for a weekend when you want to ditch the takeaway.
- Lentil and Potato Curry - a delicious, warming and filling curry. Made with green lentils, potatoes and spinach this vegan and gluten-free curry is great for a tasty weekend dinner.
More Tasty Curry Recipes
Tofu Katsu Curry
For the sauce
- 1 tablespoon oil I used sunflower oil
- 1 large onion roughly chopped
- 2 large carrots peeled and sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic put through a garlic press or finely grated
- 2 level tbsp freshly grated ginger
- 1 level tbsp plain flour
- 1 heaped tbsp mild curry powder
- 1 level tsp turmeric
- 300 ml (1 + ⅓ cup) of vegetable stock made with 1 teaspoon of vegan vegetable bouillon and 300ml of freshly boiled water.
- 1 400ml (1 x 13.6oz) can of coconut milk minus 4 or 5 tablespoons
- ½ tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup add more if you feel it needs it
- ¼ teaspoon salt more if needed
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
For the tofu
- 1 x 450g (1 x 15.5oz) pack of extra firm tofu cut into slices
- 4 - 5 tablespoon coconut milk reserved from the 400ml can
- 50 g (⅓ cup) of plain flour
- 100 g ( 1 cup) panko breadcrumbs
- ½ teaspoon salt I use sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- oil for frying I recommend using a lightly flavoured oil to fry the breaded tofu.
- Japanese rice, basmati rice or brown rice. I have served this with quinoa too.
- Raw vegetables, I added sliced radish and spring onions.
Drain the tofu
- Slice the tofu into even slices. Place the tofu slices on a baking tray double lined with kitchen paper. Place another double layer of kitchen paper on the tofu. Place another baking tray on top of the tofu then place 4 cans of beans or a heavy saucepan on top. Leave to drain for 20 to 30 minutes.
Make the curry sauce
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large saute pan.Add the chopped onion along with a small pinch of salt and cook for about 5 minutes.Now add the sliced carrots and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the onions are soft and the carrots are tender.Next, add the minced garlic and 2 level tablespoons of finely grated ginger. Stir everything together and cook until the garlic and ginger release their aromas. This should take no longer than a minute or two.Stir in 1 heaped tablespoon of the mild curry powder and 1 teaspoon of turmeric. Once the spices are warmed through stir in a tablespoon of plain flour.Now, start adding the stock. Slowly pour in the stock, stirring all the time. You should now have a thick sauce. Reserve 4 or 5 tablespoons of coconut milk and set aside.Pour in the remaining coconut milk into the sauce. Do this slowly, stirring all the time.Stir in ½ a tablespoon of soy sauce, and one teaspoon of maple syrup.Season the sauce and leave to simmer on the lowest heat possible for about 20 minutes. Make sure to stir often to prevent burning. When you are ready to serve, blend the sauce in a food blender until smooth.
Make the tofu katsu
- Take 3 bowls, add 50 g (⅓ cup) of plain flour to one, season the flour well with salt and black pepper.In another bowl add the reserved coconut milk.In the last bowl add 100g (1 cup) of panko breadcrumbs.Dip a slice of tofu into the flour, then into the coconut milk and finally into the panko breadcrumbs. Make sure the tofu is completely coated with each dip.Continue until all the tofu is coated.Heat some oil in a frying pan and cook each slice of the coated tofu until they are golden brown. I do this in batches so as to not overcrowd the pan. Transfer the cooked tofu onto a baking tray in a warm oven. Keep the tofu warm until you are ready to serve.
- Serve the katsu tofu with the blended curry sauce, a portion of Japanese rice, you could use brown rice or basmati rice too. Finish the dish with some sliced raw veggies, I used radish and spring onion and a garnish of fresh coriander.
- Tofu - Extra-firm tofu is best for this recipe. You will find it in all the big supermarkets now. I use the extra-large pack of tofu.
- Curry Powder - If you're not familiar with curry powder, it is a blend of spice similar to garam masala. I wouldn't substitute this powder for garam masala though it is different. You will find this in the spice section of your supermarket. The brand I use is Sharwoods, just in case you are looking online for it. I have made this curry sauce with mild or medium curry powder and the mild powder wins every single time.
- Stock - I make my stock using a level teaspoon of vegan vegetable billion and 300 ml of freshly boiled water.
- Panko Breadcrumbs - These breadcrumbs are Japanese, but are widely available in bigger supermarkets. They are crispier than regular breadcrumbs and perfect for making katsu.
- Coconut Milk - Full fat milk really is best here, but you can use low-fat coconut milk if you want.
- Freezing - You will need to freeze the sauce and the tofu separately. Freeze the coated tofu before cooking. To freeze the tofu, place it on a tray then place the tray in the freezer. After an hour or two transfer the tofu to a suitable freezer container. Defrost the tofu in the fridge overnight then cook on the hob. To freeze the sauce, leave the sauce to cool then transfer to suitable containers. You can freeze individual portions if you wish. Defrost the sauce overnight in the fridge then reheat on the hob or in the microwave. Both the sauce and the tofu will keep in the freezer for up to two months.
- Alternatives to tofu - If you don't like/can't eat tofu you could use thick slices of aubergine/eggplant instead. Or you can use your favourite breaded vegan cutlet. Just cook the vegan cutlet according to the pack instructions and serve with the sauce.
- Recipe inspiration - Curry sauce roughly adapted from this recipe by Cassie Best.
- Nutritional Information - is calculated using an online nutrition tool. It is approximate and does not include rice.
- Weights and measurements - For US readers, I use Cuisipro measuring cups and spoons, and a Pyrex measuring jug for liquids. These are the industry standard. Cup/spoon volumes can differ from brand to brand, for accuracy, I recommend weighing all ingredients if possible for best results.
*First published May 2021, updated Sept 2023 with new information.