Having stayed with Sis and her family for a few weeks now, it was nice to cook up healthier alternatives for the blog since there were only a few vegetarian posts. And with the bro-in-law on a pretty strict vegetarian diet, I welcomed the opportunity (more like challenge) to find something healthy and tasty. So, when I made one of my personal favorites—chicken katsu (breaded cutlets)— I had to find something I could fry up that would be considered a complete and satisfying meal. Lo and behold, the ubiquitous tofu sat in the fridge waiting to be used up. And just like that, a breaded tofu dish was created and found a warm reception, with my brother-in-law not only eating his share but asked for seconds (an amazing feat in itself). For those unaware of katsu dishes, thees are wildly popular dishes in Korea and there are quite a few restaurants devoted to this dish only. Personally, I have had this many times in Korea and they usually serve it the same way—breaded pork cutlet with katsu sauce, thinly sliced cabbage with ketchup & mayo dressing, and an ice cream scoop of rice. If you want to make it yourself at home, you can buy pre-made breaded pork cutlets at most Asian markets and fry them up yourself. I decided to do it from scratch because you can make extra breaded cutlets and keep them in the freezer for later (and it’s much cheaper too).
Prepare frying pan with generous amount of canola or vegetable oil. On medium heat, gently fry each side until nicely browned and crisp.
The finished product should look something like this. Add with katsu sauce and you’re ready to eat.
Here is my experimental fried tofu that turned out quite well (although the pic maybe didn’t capture it). It was coated with only cornstarch and then fried, leaving a crisp, crackly exterior and a silky, soft interior. The glaze is Asian-inspired consisting of soy sauce, sugar, honey, Mirin, garlic, and ginger.
Prep time: 30 minutes (+30 minutes drying out tofu)
Cook time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4 people
- 16 oz of firm tofu (2 packages)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp black n brown sesame seeds (optional)
- canola oil, for frying
- katsu sauce
1. First drain the tofu of excess water, and place each piece on a board lined with several paper towels at an angle, set for 15~30 minutes. Or for faster usage, top the tofu with additional towels and slightly press each by hand.
2. Next, prepare the 3 shallow bowls big enough to fit tofu pieces and add panko breadcrumbs, beaten eggs, and flour. Bread the tofu by dredging it first in the flour mixture, then in the beaten egg (let excess drip off), and finally in the breadcrumbs. Pat the breadcrumbs on to help them adhere.
3. Fill a pan or skillet large enough to hold two tofu pieces with at least enough oil to submerge halfway. Heat the oil on medium for several minutes before adding the tofu pieces. To test if the oil is ready, throw in a few breadcrumbs and they should bubble immediately. Fry the tofu pieces until golden brown, turning over when evenly browned on both sides.
4. Carefully transfer the tofu slices to a plate lined with paper towels, and repeat the process for the remaining slices of tofu. Let the tofu set for a few minutes to cool before serving. Serve with katsu sauce for dipping and other side dishes if available.