Japanese curry is different to indian or thai curry as it is not tomato based nor coconut milk based. It has a very distinct and unique taste of its own; a rounded, softer flavour, slightly sweet, golden in colour, and umami-esque. The secret to japanese curry is making the curry roux (the base). Most Japanese buy the instant cubes of curry roux from asian grocers with brands like “S&B Golden Curry” being very popular. The plus side to this is that it tastes great and is quick and easy to use- but the downside is that instant roux contains flavour enhancers like MSG which aren’t the healthiest and can cause those sensitive to it to have reactions.
Fortunately, making your own curry roux is VERY easy – with a gluten free option too!
Curry Roux (3-4 servings):
- 5 tbsp of oil (most recipes recommend neutral oils like canola but I prefer olive oil and it tasted the same)
- 8 tbsp flour (can be gf)
- 3 tbsp curry powder (I use S&B oriental curry powder but any should be okay)
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
Heat the oil and add the flour, then simmer on very low heat for 5 minutes stirring constantly so that it doesn’t burn! It should turn a golden colour. Then turn the heat off, stir in the spices to combine them, and this is your roux! Store the excess in the fridge, it should keep for 3-4 weeks.
To make the tofu katsu, I simply pan-fry some momen tofu in soy sauce, garlic powder, and sesame oil for 3-4 minutes on each side. Then I sauté panko bread crumbs in a hint of olive oil till golden and crispy and add white pepper, salt, garlic and onion powder. Dip each slice of tofu in flour, almond milk, then the breadcrumbs and bake for 15 minutes at 200 degrees in the oven till golden.
Now to make the actual curry; sauté onion, carrot, garlic and potato for 10 minutes then add vegetable stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes till the vegetables are tender. Then, add a heaped tbsp of the roux we made earlier, along with some brown sugar, salt, a hint of soy sauce, and some ketchup. Worcestershire sauce adds great depth of flavour as well! Now the vegan Katsu curry is ready, serve with short grain rice and the tofu katsu and enjoy a delicious, flavour-packed, and authentic bowl of japanese curry.
Here is my recipe video if you want to see how I make this vegan Katsu curry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JICtJ1LiXYY&ab_channel=KuroNekoKitchen
Hope you enjoy!