This Air-fryer Tofu Katsu is a great healthier spin on the traditional Japanese dish. Crispy outside and so soft on the inside. Get ready for a fantastic vegan dish! Serving idea: Enjoy breaded and air-fried tofu with sautéed bok choy, and a homemade curry style sauce on a bed of fluffy grains.
💡 The recipe in a nutshell
- Vegan (eggless and dairy free)
- Japanese styled cooking
- Easy to make
- Traditional meal made plant-based
- Fry in air-fryer, in a skillet, or bake
🤔 What is Katsu?
The dish comes from Japan. Its name Katsu (カツ), is a shortened form of the Japanese word katsuretsu (カツレツ), meaning "cutlet”. And I think that explains a lot about the dish already. Generally described, Katsu is a breaded, fried cutlet, traditionally made out of chicken or pork.
The breading is made with Japanese panko bread crumbs. Once breaded the cutlet is then fried until crispy and golden brown. It is traditionally served with shredded (and often sautéed) cabbage or other vegetables, rice, and miso soup. Usually, it is part of a two or three-item meal combo for lunch. Even though its origin lies in Japan, it is eaten and loved in many areas of the world nowadays.
It is a very versatile dish, with many variation options. One variation popular in Japan is Katsudon (カツ丼). A bowl with rice topped with a Katsu cutlet (mainly pork), egg, vegetables, and condiments. Another liked variation is a combination of Katsu and curry, called Katsu Curry (カツカレー). Overall, you can serve it with several different kinds of sauces and condiments. Try tofu katsu with this Japanese curry recipe instead of the suggested vegan beef strips.
👩🏽🍳 How to make
Using tofu is a great alternative to meat. The tofu needs to be drained and pressed beforehand for the best results in texture. I like to use a tofu press for this. With which I drain and press it overnight in the fridge. Using a press makes this step mess-free and super simple. Once the tofu is pressed, divide it into 3 rectangles and season.
Bread tofu, then fry it in a pan with oil, air fry it, or bake it in the oven. For this recipe, we will focus on air frying it: To air-fry tofu katsu make sure to spray the air fryer basket generously with oil. This helps receiving better browning and a more 'fried' texture. Air fry for about 6-8 minutes, then flip and air-fry for another 5 minutes until golden brown.
🥢 Serving idea
As a serving idea, this recipe suggests rice. However serve it with your preferred grain: such as quinoa, pasta, cauliflower rice, couscous, or none at all. As a side, this recipe suggests sautéed bok choy, but again: feel free to substitute with your preferred vegetables! A traditional popular side is Japanese-style pickled vegetables.
Place your leftover tofu katsu in an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator. You should consume your leftovers within 1 to 2 days. This recipe is not freezer-friendly.
Crunchy Air-Fryer Tofu Katsu (vegan)
- tofu press*, air-fryer
- 1 block of firm tofu (400g / 14 oz)
- 50 g unbleached all purpose flour (¼ cup + 1 tbsp)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder optional
- 1 teaspoon onion powder optional
- 120 ml aquafaba, brine of a can of chickpeas (½ cup)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 120 g panko bread crumbs (1 cup)
- 3 servings of preferred grain, such as rice or quinoa
- 1 small white onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 medium sized carrots
- ½ teaspoon ground giner
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 tablespoon curry powder (Japanese preferably)
- 1 tablespoon miso paste
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce, or tamari
- 500 ml vegetable broth (2 cups)
- 250 g bok choy
- Remove tofu from its packaging and drain to discard liquid. Place in your tofu press and drain overnight in the fridge. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Once Tofu is pressed, cut into 3 large rectangles. Season with some salt and pepper.
- Preheat air-fryer at 190°C / 370°F.
- Place panko in a shallow plate or flat bowl. In a separate flat bowl whisk together flour and, if using, garlic and onion powder. In a third dish add aquafaba. Start by placing tofu into the flour mix, rotating until all sides are coated. Then flip it through the aquafaba and finally turn in breadcrumbs. Gently shake off any excess and place it onto a plate. Continue until all cutlets are breaded. Then fry it in a pan with oil, air fry it, or bake it in the oven.
- To air-fry spray the air fryer basket generously with oil. This helps receive better browning and a more 'fried' texture. Air-fry for around 6 to 8 minutes. Then flip over and air fry again for another 5 minutes.
- Cook rice or other grain of choice following recipe or package instructions.
- To make curry sauce finely dice the onion. Peel and slice carrots. Mince Garlic. Once everything is prepared, heat oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Fry onion for 3 minutes. Add ground ginger and carrot. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add garlic, curry powder, garam masala, and turmeric. Stir and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the miso, soy sauce, and vegetable broth. Leave to simmer for 15 minutes. Transfer to a high-speed blender, or food processor and blend until smooth. Place back in the pan on low heat and keep warm until ready to serve. If you want the sauce thinner, add some water or broth.
- Bring a pot of water to boil. Once the water is boiling, drizzle some oil into the pot and blanch the bok choy for 1 min. Remove and drain.
- To serve fill a bowl with rice, followed by bok choy and tofu katsu. Drizzle with curry sauce.
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