This tofu katsu recipe will change the way you eat tofu. In Japanese, katsu translates to "cutlet." The most popular katsu options are pork (tonkatsu) or chicken, but tofu is an excellent substitute. This recipe works great with firm tofu, which I love freezing for an extra spongy and chewy texture. (You can read more about this awesome technique here.) To create a super-crunchy texture, I coat the tofu with a thick batter, dredging it in a plant-based egg liquid, packing each side with panko, then shallow-frying in hot oil. There are many great alternatives to replace the plant-based egg, such as chickpea brine (aquafaba) or thick, plant-based milk such as oat. I find that the plant-based egg and chickpea brine work the best, as they are generally thicker, helping the panko adhere better. The tofu katsu can be served as is with white rice and a side of sauce, like tonkatsu sauce. My family likes to pair it with Japanese curry. Other combinations that go well with tofu katsu: Serve it with tossed noodles, or use it as a crispy protein for sandwiches.
- Prep time 6 hours 30 minutes
- Cook time 5 minutes
- makes 2
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
plant-based egg, aquafaba, or oat milk
Vegetable oil, for frying
- Remove the tofu from its package and drain out the water (but save the package!). Wrap the tofu with paper towels or a clean dishcloth. Place on a cutting board and top with a plate. Now top this plate with something heavy, such as cans or cartons. Let the tofu drain for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Unwrap the tofu. Halve the tofu lengthwise into two slabs. (I like to trim the sides to make it look like a chicken cutlet, but this is an optional step.) Return the tofu to its package. Freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- The day before you’re ready to eat, thaw the tofu in the fridge. (To speed things up, you can transfer it to the counter or microwave it as needed.) Squeeze the tofu slabs between your palms or drain them on paper towels to remove as much liquid as possible. Season both sides generously with salt and pepper.
- Set up the dredging station: Place the flour, plant-based egg (or aquafaba or oat milk), and panko on three separate plates. Season each with salt and pepper.
- Coat a tofu slab on all sides with flour. Next, dip it into the plant-based egg until completely coated, shaking off any excess. Finally, place the tofu in the panko and gently press down until all sides are well coated. Repeat with the second slab.
- Add enough oil to a large skillet to rise ½ inch up the sides. Set over medium heat. To test if the oil is ready, you can use a thermometer (aim for 350°F) or drop a small piece of panko into the oil (if it sizzles, then the oil is ready).
- Carefully slide the tofu slabs into the hot oil—the tofu should sizzle instantly. After 2 to 4 minutes, once the tofu is golden (use a pair of tongs to lift a corner to check the color), carefully flip and fry the other side. Note: If it's browning too quickly, you can lower the heat a little.
- When both sides are golden, transfer the tofu katsu to a wire rack to drain. This will keep the katsu crispy. Eat hot.