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Aubergine Katsu

Aubergine Katsu
Aubergine Katsu

So, if you’ve ever been to a certain delicious high street Asian fusion restaurant (let’s just call it “Magawama”) then you’ll have probably experienced one of their excellent katsu dishes. We’re mega fans, so we thought we’d cook up a vegan version for the plant-based masses to enjoy. The katsu sauce is the perfect balance of beautifully light yet comfortingly warm and the panko breadcrumbs give the aubergine a gooey-on-the-inside kind of crispiness. Our favourite kind.

Ingredients
Method

Ingredients

For the katsu sauce

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 small carrot
  • 5cm piece fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 350ml vegetable stock
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp water

For the aubergine

  • 175g plain flour
  • 1⁄2 tbsp salt
  • 250ml plant-based milk
  • 150g panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 aubergines (about 300g each)
  • 4 spring onions
  • sesame seeds, to sprinkle
  • 500g cooked basmati rice, or use 2 x 250g bags microwavable basmati rice, to serve
  • vegetable oil, for frying

Equipment

  • Fine grater or Microplane
  • 2 large frying pans
  • Liquidiser
  • Large plate lined with kitchen paper

Method

  1. 1.

    First make the sauce. Peel and dice the onion. Peel and grate the carrot. Peel and finely grate the ginger and garlic.

  2. 2.

    Put one pan over a medium heat and warm the sesame oil. Add the onions and fry for 3–4 minutes, stirring. Add the carrot and olive oil and stir for 5–6 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and stir for 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce and curry powder and stir for 2 minutes, then transfer to the liquidiser along with the vegetable stock. Blend. Pour back into the pan and return to a medium heat.

  3. 3.

    Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice of half into the pan, catching any pips with your other hand. Sprinkle over the garam masala and sugar and stir. Reduce the heat to low. Taste and add more salt and lemon if required. Put the cornflour and water into a small dish and mix together with a fork. Pour into the pan and stir to thicken.

  4. 4.

    Now make the batter. Put the flour, salt and milk into a mixing bowl and whisk to a smooth batter. Pour the breadcrumbs into a separate bowl.

  5. 5.

    Trim the aubergines and cut into 1cm slices. Tip into the batter and toss to cover. Pick out one slice and roll it around in the breadcrumbs, covering it completely. Repeat to coat all the slices. Fry the aubergine. Pour the vegetable oil into the second pan until it’s 2cm deep. Put the pan over a medium heat and heat until a wooden spoon dipped into the oil starts to bubble around the edges. Carefully add the aubergine slices and fry for 3–4 minutes on each side, until crispy and deep golden. Transfer to the kitchen paper for a minute to soak up any excess oil.

  6. 6.

    Meanwhile, heat the rice, if necessary, or cook following the packet instructions, then divide between plates. Arrange the crispy aubergine on top and drizzle over the katsu sauce. Finely slice the spring onions and sprinkle over with the sesame seeds before serving.