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This aubergine katsu curry is absolutely delicious. Tender aubergine encased in crispy golden panko breadcrumbs with a delicious sweet and sour curry sauce lavishly poured over. It’s a perfect option whether you are vegetarian or trying to eat less meat – you won’t even miss the chicken!
What is it?
Katsu curry originates in Japan. It is most commonly prepared with chicken, and you might also see it by the name ‘Panko Chicken’ in Eastern Asia. This aubergine version offers a vegetarian version of the dish which is every bit as delicious.
In the UK many people believe that the name ‘Katsu’ refers to the curry sauce it is commonly served with. However, katsu refers only to the breaded ingredients and the sauce that it is served with is called Tonkatsu. Tonkatsu is a thick sauce made from spices and vegetables. It has a sweet and sour taste and a smooth texture that is just heaven alongside the crispy aubergine.
Do I have to use panko breadcrumbs?
Panko breadcrumbs are essential for authenticity, but not only that, they will provide a better result. Panko provides a super crisp coating which simply cannot be achieved with other crumbs.
In short, yes you can use standard breadcrumbs, but it won’t be as good. If you really can’t find panko breadcrumbs then the best substitute is dried breadcrumbs which will give a crisper result than fresh.
But why? Panko breadcrumbs are often revered as the creme de la crumb of the breadcrumb world, yet there is often a lot of mystery about what panko is, how it is made and why it is so much better. Firstly, panko bread is cooked with electricity, and I don’t mean an electric oven. An actual electric current is passed through the bread which generates heat and causes it to steam from the inside rather than bake. The result? A light and airy crustless loaf. The lack of direct heat means that the crumbs are also colourless and bland, so it simply provides a crunchy layer to your food without clashing with any flavours.
What can I serve it with?
Katsu is typically served with a side of rice. You can also add some steamed veggies and/or swap the rice for a salad for a lighter option. A few great additional accompaniments include:
- Pak choy with oyster sauce
- Morning glory (technically Thai, but extremely delicous)
- Roasted tenderstem broccoli
Can I make it vegan?
You can easily make this recipe vegan by removing the egg from the breadcrumbing step. Simply add a little water or coconut milk to the flour, a little at a time, to transform it into a thick batter. You can then coat each aubergine slice in the batter before coating it in the panko breadcrumbs to make an egg-free, vegan coating.
Can I bake the aubergine instead of frying?
You can bake the aubergine in the oven instead of frying, although it won’t be as crispy and golden. To bake add the breadcrumbed slices to a baking tray lined with parchment/baking paper and brushed with a little oil. Place in an oven heated to 200C/400F for 30 minutes, turning halfway through.
Baking instead of frying will reduce the number of calories per portion by approximately 180 and the fat by around 20g.
Can I make it in advance?
The curry sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance and be kept in the fridge. However, I recommend frying the aubergine when you are going to serve it, as it will soften if kept in the fridge and reheated.
You can also freeze the sauce for up to 3 months, but I recommend freezing it without the potatoes in, if using, as they are served very soft in the sauce to start with, so will disintegrate if frozen and reheated.
For a full list of ingredients with weights and measurements jump to the printable recipe card.
For the sauce:
- Onion, roughly chopped and blitzed in a blender or food processor – you can also finely dice the onion if you want a chunkier sauce
- Potato, cut into small cubes around 1.5cm/0.6in thick
- Carrots, sliced in half lengthways and then cut into 1cm/0.4in slices
- Garlic, finely chopped or crushed
- Ginger paste
- Curry powder
- Plain/all-purpose flour
- Vegetable stock
- Coconut milk – full fat will give a creamier texture but you can use light if preferred
- Light soy sauce
For the breaded aubergine:
- Aubergines, sliced into 2cm/0.8in slices lengthways
- Plain/all-purpose flour
- Eggs, beaten
- Panko breadcrumbs – can be substituted for dried crumbs (see notes above)
- Vegetable oil for frying – can be substituted for any oil with a high smoke point.
How to make it
For detailed steps with recipe tips jump to the printable recipe card.
First, make the sauce.
- Sauté the potatoes and carrots until softened on the edges. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for a further minute.
- Add the onion puree and cook for a further 2-3 minutes before adding the turmeric and curry powder and cooking until aromatic. Tip in the flour and cook for a further minute, stirring together.
- Pour in the stock and then the coconut milk. Add the soy sauce and sugar and season.
- Place a lid on the pan and reduce the heat to a low simmer while you prepare the aubergine.
Next, prepare the aubergine.
- Bread the aubergine slices by dipping first in the flour, then the eggs, then the breadcrumbs.
- Fry each piece in a frying pan filled with the vegetable oil and heated to 180C/350F. Cook for 4-5 minutes, turning halfway through.
- Serve with rice and with the sauce spooned over the top.
Looking for more great Japanese recipes? Try:
Products that work well for this recipe:
6-Piece Japanese Porcelain Dinnerware Set
Magnetic Spice Rack – Set of 12
Chopstick Helper – for Adults (2 pieces)
Aubergine Katsu Curry (Vegetarian)
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 2 1x
- Diet: Vegetarian
This aubergine katsu curry is absolutely delicious. Tender aubergine encased in crispy golden panko breadcrumbs with a delicious sweet and sour curry sauce.
The default recipe serves 2.
For the curry sauce:
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion, roughly chopped and blitzed in a blender or food processor (see note 1)
- 100g potatoes cut into small cubes (around 1.5cm/0.6in thick)
- 50g carrots cut in half lengthways and then into 1cm/0.4in thick slices (see note 2)
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped or crushed
- 2 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp curry powder (see note 3)
- 2 tsp plain/all-purpose flour
- 250ml / 1 cup vegetable stock
- 125ml / 1/2 cup coconut milk (see note 4)
- 1 tsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
For the aubergine:
- 300g large aubergines, sliced lengthways into 2cm/0.6in thick pieces.
- 50g plain flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 100g panko breadcrumbs (see note 5)
- 125ml / 1/2 cup vegetable oil, for frying (see note 6,7)
- Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a saucepan. Saute the potatoes and carrots for around 4-5 minutes until softened on the edges. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a further minute.
- Add the pureed onion to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Add the turmeric and curry powder and mix together and cook for another minute until aromatic. Tip in the flour and stir everything together for a further minute.
- Pour the vegetable stock into the pan, a little at a time, stirring consistently.
- Add the coconut milk into the pan and mix together well. Add the soy sauce, sugar and season well.
- Place a lid on the pan and leave over low heat for around 20 minutes, while you prepare the aubergine. (see note 8)
- Layout the flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs in large shallow bowls or rimmed plates.
- Lay the aubergines in the flour and then flip them over so they are fully coated. Work in batches if needed.
- Transfer the floured aubergines into the beaten eggs, coating fully, and then press both sides of each in the breadcrumbs so they are fully covered. Set aside onto a plate.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan until it reaches 180C/350F (see note 9). Carefully place the breaded aubergine slices into the oil, laying them away from you with tongs. (see note 10).
- Fry each piece of aubergine for 4-5 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden. Turn each piece halfway through the cooking time. Transfer to paper towel once cooked to remove any excess oil.
- Serve with rice and salad.
- If you prefer a chunkier sauce then you can finely dice the onion instead of blending/pureeing. In this case, add the diced onion to the pan at the same time as the carrot and potato.
- The carrots and potatoes can be left out if you want a really smooth curry or a simpler option.
- Use mild curry powder if you want a mild curry (or hot if you want it spicier)
- Use full-fat coconut milk for the richest and creamiest sauce, but light milk can be substituted if you want a lighter option.
- Panko breadcrumbs are the authentic choice for this recipe, plus they will give you a crisper coating. However, you can use dried breadcrumbs instead.
- You don’t need to fry the aubergine in a lot of oil – around 2-3 cm or 1 inch is more than enough.
- You can use any oil that has a high smoke point – sunflower oil or canola/rapeseed oil also work well.
- If the sauce is too thin when you come to serve it then remove the lid and increase the heat and simmer for a few minutes.
- To make sure that the oil is hot enough you can drop a little of the batter into the oil and if it immediately bubbles and simmers it’s hot enough. You can also dip in some wooden chopsticks or the end of a wooden spoon and if it fizzes then the oil is good to go.
- Don’t overcrowd the pan as the more aubergine pieces you add the more you will reduce the temperature of the oil. Work in small batches.
- For best results serve the aubergine freshly cooked as the crumb coating will soften if cooled and reheated.
- The curry sauce can be kept in the fridge for 3 days or will freeze for up to 3 months, however, I recommend removing the potatoes before freezing as they will disintegrate after thawing.
- To make this recipe vegan simply mix a little water or coconut milk into the flour to turn it into a thick batter to coat the aubergine slices before breadcrumbing.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Hob / Stove
- Cuisine: Japanese
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 700
- Fat: 42g
- Carbohydrates: 68g
- Protein: 16g
Keywords: Japanese, dinner, curry, katsu, aubergine, vegetables, vegetarian, panko, rice