It’s light, crispy and brings on the crunch — tofu katsu is a vegan alternative if you’re looking to eat less meat. Like the classic tonkatsu (pork cutlet), this variation utilizes panko to get that ultimate golden exterior. But unlike the original, this recipe swaps pork for soft, custard-like tofu, giving it a light texture that complements just about anything you serve with it.
A classic tonkatsu dredges pork into a flour mixture, then beaten eggs and finally panko. This vegan take simplifies the process by using katakuriko (potato starch) and non-dairy milk for a batter that allows the chunky panko flakes to easily adhere to the surface of the tofu and fries into a shatterable crust. Smoked paprika in the batter adds a subtle kick, but you can add any spices to suit your preference. Garlic powder, cumin, turmeric and more are all fair game! While many Japanese panko brands are vegan, be sure to double check the label for non-vegan ingredients, such as eggs and butter.
There’s no wrong way to eat tofu katsu: pair it with curry, sandwich it between two slices of fluffy milk bread, top it with tomato sauce and vegan cheese for a katsu Parmesan moment, slather on some creamy mushroom gravy, plate it over a big serving of greens or cut it into bite-sized pieces for vegan nuggets.
Tofu is one of the great blank canvases of the food world and is always ready to take on whatever flavor is thrown its way. The only limits are your imagination, so get wild.
Prep: 20 mins.; cook: 10 mins.
• 397 grams (14 ounces) momen (extra-firm) tofu
• 67.5 grams (¼ cup and 2 tablespoons) potato starch
• 60 grams (¼ cup) non-dairy milk (almond, soy, oat etc.)
• ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
• 6 grams (2 teaspoons) kosher salt
• 89.3 grams (¾ cup) panko
• Vegetable oil, for frying
1. Drain the tofu and wrap it in paper towels or a clean dish towel. Place the wrapped tofu between two cutting boards and top with a plate. Add some kitchen items with weight (cans of food, small bag of rice, etc.) on top of the plate to press out excess water. Let the tofu drain for about 10 minutes.
2. In a wide, shallow bowl, combine the potato starch, milk, smoked paprika and salt. Whisk until fully combined with no lumps. In a separate shallow bowl, add the panko. Set both dishes aside.
3. Unwrap the tofu and slice crosswise into two halves about 1.2-centimeters (½-inch) thick, keeping the original length and width. If you wish to make each slice further resemble tonkatsu, round off the corners.
4. Heat a large nonstick skillet with about ½-centimeter (¼-inch) of oil over medium-high heat. Once the surface begins to shimmer, whisk the milk mixture again right before dredging. Take one tofu slice and dip into the milk mixture, being sure every side gets completely coated. Then place the tofu directly into the panko, gently pressing the breadcrumbs onto every side until evenly covered. Repeat with the second tofu half.
5. Gently lower each slice into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Serve immediately.
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