This crispy tofu katsu curry is not just for vegetarians! Extra firm tofu makes a great meaty substitute for anyone looking to expand their choices for protein, and pairs perfectly with the crispy, Panko breading and rich curry. If you prefer chicken katsu, check out my recipe for it here!
The method I like to use with any katsu is shallow-frying: it uses much less oil compared to deep-frying, but gets the same results. Instead of submerging the entire piece of tofu (or whichever protein you choose) under oil, you only use enough to fry one side at a time. If you don’t want to fry this at all, you can always bake it in the oven instead — but you won’t end up with the evenly golden brown, crunchy exterior.
For the curry, I use the boxed kind because they’re easy and a great foundation to start with. To get the most flavor, I like using a mixture of Golden Curry, Vermont Curry, and/or Java Curry. Usually I’ll mix a mild, sweet one and one medium hot, but you can adjust to your preferences.
Make sure to prepare some rice to eat this with, and enjoy!
Notes / FAQs:
What is shallow-frying?
I explained a bit above, but it’s a way to fry your food without using as much oil (like deep-frying does). With shallow-frying, you only use enough oil to fry one side at a time. You end up with the same results as deep-frying, without as much mess and required clean-up.
What kind of curry should I use?
The ones I listed should be pretty commonly found at Asian supermarkets: Golden Curry, Vermont Curry, and Java Curry. You’ll get the best flavor if you mix curries from different brands / boxes, so try experimenting to see what you like best! I personally like picking one that’s sweet and mild, and another that’s medium hot.
Tofu Katsu Curry
for the curry
- 2-3 medium yellow potatoes
- 2-3 medium carrots
- 1 yellow onion
- 3-5 cloves garlic
- low-sodium chicken broth or water
- 1.5 tablespoon Vermont curry mild, with apple and honey
- 1.5 tablespoon Java or Golden curry med hot
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil (avocado, vegetable, canola, etc.)
- 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar optional
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce optional
- 1 tablespoon honey optional
- black pepper optional
for the tofu katsu
- 14 oz package of extra firm tofu firm might work but it would be slightly more fragile
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ cups of Panko bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika optional
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder optional
- neutral oil for frying (vegetable, canola, etc.)
Prepare the tofu
- Drain the tofu of any water and slice the tofu to get 4 slabs, about ½ inch thick each.14 oz package of extra firm tofu
- Next we’ll want to extract as much water out of the tofu blocks as possible. Place paper towels on a plate, and place the tofu blocks on the paper towels. Lay one more layer of paper towels on top of the tofu, then stack with another plate and something heavy — a cast iron pan, a heavy book, or cans would work! Leave for at least 15-20 minutes. In the meantime, start making the curry.
Make the curry
- Prepare all the vegetables by chopping them into medium-sized chunks (about 1-2 in). Mince the garlic.2-3 medium yellow potatoes, 2-3 medium carrots, 1 yellow onion, 3-5 cloves garlic
- Heat up a medium or large pot (I used a 4 qt pot) over medium heat, and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Once warm, add the chopped onions and cook for 2 minutes or until slightly translucent.1 tablespoon neutral oil
- Add the minced garlic, and cook for another minute or until fragrant.
- Add the potatoes and carrots, and stir to mix well.
- Add enough low-sodium chicken broth (or water) to cover the vegetables by an inch, and turn up the heat to high. Once it starts boiling, lower the heat back to medium to keep it at a low boil. Cover and continue cooking for ~15 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through to their center. You can use this extra time to prep your tofu and breading (check "Bread the tofu").low-sodium chicken broth or water
- Once the vegetables are cooked through, it’s time to add the curry blocks! I used about 1.5 tablespoon each of the two curries: Vermont and Java. Stir well, and keep stirring until it’s completely dissolved, and the curry thickens (this should take a few minutes). If you like your curry thicker, you can add more blocks; if you like your curry thinner, you can add more chicken broth or water. If the curry tastes watered down, add more curry blocks incrementally (half tablespoon at a time) until you’ve reached the desired thickness and taste.1.5 tablespoon Vermont curry, 1.5 tablespoon Java or Golden curry
- I have a few ingredients that I listed as optional for the curry: the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, honey, and black pepper. For me, these take the boxed curry to the next level by adding a bit of acidity (vinegar), umami (soy sauce), and sweetness (honey). I recommend tasting your curry, and adding these ingredients one by one to see how they affect the taste, then adjusting to your preference.1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon light soy sauce, 1 tablespoon honey, black pepper
- Once you’re satisfied with your curry, turn off the heat and set aside.
Bread the tofu
- For breading tofu, prepare 3 shallow plates or bowls: one with all purpose flour, one with egg (whisked well), and the last with Panko bread crumbs. If you decide to add the optional paprika and garlic powder, add them to the bowl of flour and mix well.1 cup all purpose flour, 2 eggs, 1 ½ cups of Panko bread crumbs, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Season the tofu blocks with salt on both sides. With tongs or clean hands, place a tofu block in the bowl of flour and coat it on all sides, and lightly press the flour into it so that it sticks well.1 teaspoon salt
- Shake off any excess flour, then coat it with egg.
- Lastly, bread the tofu block in the Panko bread crumbs. Make sure you can’t see anymore tofu, and lightly press the crumbs in on all sides. This makes sure that the breading sticks onto it when you’re frying it.
- Repeat with your other blocks of tofu.
- If you haven’t yet, go back to the curry instructions and finish steps 6-8!
Frying the tofu
- For shallow-frying, I love using a small pot (one that will fit one or two tofu blocks), because small pot means even less oil is needed. The higher sides of a pot will also prevent the oil from splattering all over your stove.
- Over medium heat, add enough vegetable or canola oil in a small pot to fry one side of the chicken — the oil should fill up to about ½ of an inch high. If you have a digital thermometer, 320-330F is the ideal temperature you want to reach. If you don’t have a thermometer, sprinkle a few Panko bread crumbs into the oil to check the temperature. If it sizzles, it’s ready. If it browns really quickly, it’s too hot — turn the heat down.neutral oil
- With tongs, carefully lower one breaded tofu block into the hot oil. Fry for about 3-4 mins or until golden brown, then flip to the other side and fry for another 3-4 mins.
- Once it’s golden brown on both sides, take it out and let it rest on a cooling rack (the air flow underneath will prevent the breading from getting soggy).
- Fry your other breaded tofu bocks by following the same steps above.
- Slice the tofu into strips, and serve immediately over the curry and rice. Enjoy!