A healthier alternative to satiate your fried food cravings
If there’s any ingredient that doesn’t deserve the hate it gets, it’s tofu. Make this dish for anyone, die-hard meat eater or not, and they’ll see just how versatile and delicious it can be.
Tofu has been a staple ingredient in Asian cuisine for hundreds of years, and now more people in the west have realized how useful it is as an alternative protein source. Katsu is a Japanese dish that consists of a cutlet — usually chicken or pork — breaded and deep fried.
- 1 block of medium firm tofu (456g)
- 1 egg (or vegan egg replacement)
- Panko bread crumbs (this type of bread crumb is important for the signature crunchy outside of katsu)
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 500–800 ml vegetable oil
- Soy sauce or tamari
To get things started, drain your block of tofu and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut the block lengthwise into three equal sized cutlets and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. Lightly season each side of the cutlets with salt.
Arrange three small dishes in a row, this will be the breading station. Put the flour in the first dish and season generously with salt. Corn starch/flour will also work as a substitute if you are making this gluten free.
Crack an egg into the second dish and beat with a fork until completely mixed. Add about a teaspoon of water and mix again.
Add a few tablespoons of panko into the third dish but keep extra close by in case you need it. Gluten free panko is easy to find if need be. Other types of bread crumbs may work, but the results are not guaranteed.
Take a cutlet of tofu, completely coat it in flour, and shake off the excess. Dip it in the egg so that no dry spots remain. Let any extra drip off. Coat it in the panko and press it in all around so that it is fully encased. Transfer to the paper towel-lined plate or wire rack. Repeat with the other two cutlets. The best method for this is to use one hand for the dry parts, and the other hand for the egg mixture; this will result in the least amount of mess.
Find a saucepan big enough to lay a cutlet in, and fill it with two to three inches of vegetable oil. Heat the oil to 350° F, or hot enough that a chopstick will bubble lightly when you put it in.
Drop the first cutlet in, and let it fry for about three minutes before flipping. Continue frying until it is golden brown and crispy.
Remove the cutlet from the oil, and let it drain on a paper towel or a rack. Quickly season both sides with salt while they are still hot. Repeat this process with the other cutlets, adjusting the heat as needed.
Since tofu is safe to eat raw, the only thing you really need to worry about is getting a crispy crust, as you don’t need to reach a specific internal temperature.
For the dipping sauce, mix equal parts mirin, soy sauce, and water. Adjust to your own personal taste.
Slice the cutlets into three equal strips and serve with your favourite sides and a refreshing beverage. My favourite pairing for this is sushi rice and Asian slaw.