This cozy vegan katsu curry is made with crispy panko-crusted eggplant slabs served over rice and smothered in flavor-packed Japanese curry sauce.
For the past two months I've been walking around with this page bookmarked on my phone. Whenever I feel a little summertime cranky spell coming on I bust out the phone, have a look at the page and sigh, taking comfort in the fact that two or three days (or hours) have disappeared from the clock since the last time I looked.
So yeah, I'm psyched about fall and pretty much over any miniscule amout of excitement I may have felt over summer, which is pretty much just a tiny bit about my backyard garden and the prospect of a few weeks worth of home-grown tomatoes.
I'm lucky that my husband is among the few in the anti-summer camp with me. Because there's nothing worse for us grumpy summer people than being attached to another who's all "Woohoo, fun in the sun!", right? When things get really grumpy in my household we have a tradition where one of us draws the curtains, blasts the air conditioner, and announces that we should "Pretend it's January." And the last time that happened, that one of us (that'd be me) also decided to cook up some January-worthy comfort food: vegan katsu curry.
Okay, so maybe August has eggplant going for it over January, but you can still get eggplant in January where I live, even if it's not as fresh and not as many varieties are available, so winter wins. In any event, I'll take this big plate of comfort food goodness any time of year.
The curry sauce is adapted from this Japanese curry recipe I posted last year (another great one for pretending it's January!). Japanese curry has a really cozy, homey feel to me, so it's kind of perfect for a comfort food meal when hiding in the house and pretending it's another season. If it's too hot for curry, you could always just make the eggplant katsu and serve it with tonkatsu sauce ( <-- use Vegan Worchestershire sauce when you make it). Also delicious, but I really dig the curry.
I used Japanese eggplants for my katsu curry, but in hindsight I think Italian globes might actually work better. Bigger slabs are more like the cutlets katsu curry traditionally features, and also, bigger slabs = less surface area = less oil during cooking. It's up to you though! However you make this it'll be delicious!
Eggplant Katsu Curry
For the Curry Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose or whole wheat flour, I used whole wheat pastry
- 1 ½ tablespoons Japanese curry powder, plus more to taste
- 3 cups water
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
For the Eggplant Katsu:
- 1 pound eggplant, about 2 Japanese eggplants or 1 small Italian eggplant, sliced into ¼ to ½ inch thick slabs
For the Batter:
- ½ cup unflavored soy or almond milk
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose or whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the Breading
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour
- About ¼ cup vegetable oil
- Cooked Rice
- Chopped scallions
- Sesame seeds
Begin by making the curry sauce. Coat the bottom of a medium pot with oil and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the ginger, garlic, and curry powder and continue to sauté for about 1 minute until very fragrant. Add the flour and stir until it coats the onions relatively evenly. Stir in the water, tomato paste, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Raise heat and bring the mixture to a simmer. Lower heat and allow to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens up a bit.
While the sauce cooks, prepare the eggplant Katsu. Whisk the batter ingredients together in a shallow bowl and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes to thicken up. Meanwhile, stir the breading ingredients together in another shallow bowl.
Coat the bottom of a large skillet generously with oil and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, grab an eggplant slice and dip both sides into the batter. Next, dredge each side in the breading. Transfer the slice to the skillet. Repeat for as many slices as will fit into the skillet without crowding. Cook the eggplant for about 5 minutes on each side, until crisp and golden brown. Transfer the cooked slices to a paper towel-lined plate. Add oil to the skillet as needed and continue coating and cooking the eggplant slices until all are cooked.
Divide rice onto plates and top with eggplant slices, then cover the eggplant slices with the sauce. Sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds. Serve.
If you can't find Japanese curry powder, garam masala with a pinch of turmeric added will work as a substitute.