Air-fried crispy herb panko tofu slices smothered in curry sauce with tender potatoes, carrots, and onion, flavored with ginger and garlic, and served on a bed of light and fluffy brown basmati rice.
Right off the bat, you can see that the Japanese Katsu Curry influences this tofu dish. As I mentioned in my Chicken Curry Stir-Fry with Coconut Rice and Beans recipe, I did not know curry was used in Asia except for India.
This was years ago! But it definitely sparked an interest to try out more curry dishes from Chinese-American and Japanese cuisine. I also want to try curry dishes from South East Asia. That is to say, if you know of any great dishes, leave a comment.
Two amazing recipes you must check out are Bang Bang Crispy Tofu with Egg Fried Brown Rice and Turmeric Herbed Tofu with Roasted Vegetable Israeli Couscous and Basil Romesco Sauce if you love tofu! And to just make it super simple, try the Air-Fried Turmeric Herb Tofu recipe.
Have Katsu Your Way
Katsu is made in a variety of ways! You could use chicken (Hawaiian style), beef (gyukatsu- popular in Osaka and Kobe, Japan), chopped beef (menchi-katsu), pork cutlets (tonkatsu), or ham (hamukatsu- a budget alternative to pork).
Leave the vegetables in chunks or puree them with the curry sauce. On the other hand, you can use tonkatsu sauce, a dark brown puree of stone fruits (e.g., apples, prunes, dates) with sweet Japanese-style Worcestershire sauce, onions, carrots, celery, citrus, and tomatoes.
It can be served with crispy pickled vegetables, shredded cabbage, and/ or rice. Sometimes, it can be on a flat plate, in a bowl, like Katsudon, or as a sandwich. Interestingly, because the word "katsu" is similar to the verb meaning victorious, katsudon is sometimes eaten by students the night before a major exam.
For this vegetarian herb panko tofu recipe, we will make tofu katsu. The tofu slices are dipped in a curry egg mixture and then coated in panko breadcrumbs.
Check out my Grilled Turmeric Herbed Tofu recipe for a great crispy tofu recipe. Firstly, you will omit the spice blend from that recipe and use the spice blend from this recipe. In contrast to the original herb panko tofu recipe, you will have air-fried or grilled tofu chunks served with curry vegetables and brown rice! So good!
See the herb panko tofu recipe for quantities.
For the Curry
For the vegetable curry, you will start by sauteing the onion, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes. Then you will toss in the ginger and garlic; your kitchen will smell so wonderful! Next, add the vegetable broth.
Next, you will add orange juice, which makes Japanese curry unique. Then, add the curry powder and brown sugar; this will help balance the bitterness from the garam masala that will be added later in the cooking process.
Finally, finish the curry with orange zest and the option of adding more heat, like scotch bonnet sauce. Then add the garam masala. In addition, it is added last because if you cook this spice for too long, it can become quite bitter. I am also very sensitive to bitterness, so it may be different for you, but I can taste it immediately.
Serve it with some warm brown basmati rice. Additionally, I cooked mine in the rice cooker, which came out perfect every single time. Enjoy!
See the herb panko tofu recipe card for quantities.
Can't find extra firm tofu? Use a tofu press. Check out my Cook’s Notebook post on using the Tofu Press.
In addition, pressing the tofu helps remove most of the liquid for a firm texture, which is perfect for frying.
All the extra liquid is left in the reservoir.
Once pressed for at least 30 minutes, the tofu is ready to be cut.
A block of tofu is 16 ounces. There are about 3 to 4 servings in each block.
To begin with, turn the halved tofu to its side to slice it into three.
After the tofu has been breaded and air-fried, each slice will be cut into four even-long pieces.
Busy Folks - Become a better home cook with cooking tips to help you cook more efficiently on Cook's Notebook tab. In addition, some related detailed steps can be found there. Learn more about using a tofu press.
- Japanese curry - Replace the above recipe's Easy Curry Herb Mix, orange juice, orange zest, and garam masala spice blend with Golden Curry, a Japanese premade curry blend that comes in pre-portion blocks. In addition, follow the instructions for the required amount.
- Scotch Bonnet Sauce - Use red chili pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or Thai chili peppers instead.
Change Heat Level - Modify the herb panko tofu recipe's heat level to your liking and learn more about the Scoville Scale and Chili Pairings.
- Meat Katsu - Chicken, beef, or pork Cutlets instead of tofu with chicken broth, beef broth, etc.
- Puree the vegetable curry to make a thick, smooth sauce.
- Japanese Way - Add some Japanese-style Worcestershire sauce for a sweet kick.
- American Way - Add American-style Worcestershire sauce for a tangy, spicy kick.
- Tofu Press - If you cannot find extra firm tofu, you can use a tofu press to press it at home. This will take about at least 30 minutes. Additionally, I pressed firm tofu with the Tofuture Tofu Press to develop this recipe.
- Air Fryer - This recipe was developed using the Ninja Foodi 5-in-1 Indoor Grill. If you do not have an air fryer, you can try roasting in the oven. In addition, you have two options with different results: a sheet pan with parchment paper or a sheet pan with a sheet pan rack.
- The parchment paper will produce vegetables roasted in their juices and caramelization at the bottom.
- In contrast, the sheet pan rack will result in just roasting around the vegetables due to the hot air flowing around the vegetables.
- Now, the trick is not to overcrowd in whatever method you choose, but if this happens, toss in between cooking.
- Medium Saute Pan - Used for making the vegetable curry. Because it's wide enough to saute and deep enough to boil and simmer the vegetables like the All-Clad HA1 Hard Anodized Nonstick Sauté Pan with Lid.
Kitchen Must Haves - Find other tools I use here.
- Refrigerator - To store in the fridge, you can place the rice, tofu, and curried potatoes in shallow 2-inch containers to cool down quickly. Then, store in an air-tight sealing container. The meal will last up to two days.
- Freezer - Follow the refrigeration process mentioned above. Then, you can place it in the freezer in a labeled, airtight container.
Air Tight Food Containers - I use Glass Food Storage Containers with a plastic clipping lid to store food. For example, I always suggest glass storage containers since you can microwave them and hold food without staining the container, and the glass keeps them at a more stable temperature, which keeps the food fresher longer.
For a less messy herb panko tofu, sit in the egg mixture for at least one minute when breading the tofu. Then, place a slice in the panko breadcrumbs and flip. Then, press down on the tofu with your hand into the panko to catch the breadcrumb coating, flip, and press again. This way, your hand didn't have to press down a wet slice of tofu.
Frequently Asked Questions
A 16-block of tofu has about 3 to 4 servings, 3.5 to 4 ounces per person.
Panko is Japanese-style breadcrumbs that are highly preferred due to its ability to create a crispier crust than other breadcrumbs. This results from cooking, where the dough is steamed first until most of the water evaporates. The breadcrumbs' color is all beige because the bread is crustless when baked. And the unique cooking methods create flakes due to the bread's airy and brittle texture.
In addition, chefs highly prefer panko due to its inability to absorb liquids as much. For example, it is an excellent binder for ground meat and coating for oil-fried foods.
Extra firm tofu would be the best for frying since most of the moisture has been pressed out. To clarify, water prevents food from becoming crispy. The more liquid you remove, the more crispy a food item will get.
Looking for other Asian-inspired recipes like this? Try these:
Looking for other vegetarian recipes like this? Try these:
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- Cook chicken to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C).
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food that previously touched raw meat to prevent foodborne illness from contaminated uncooked meats.
- Wash hands after touching raw meat to prevent cross-contamination.
- Don't leave food at room temperature for extended periods; this can breed bacteria.
- Never leave cooking food unattended to prevent burns and fires.
- Use oils with a high smoke point to avoid harmful compounds.
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
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