With vegetarian recipes like this, you won’t be missing meat at all!

We have been eating a lot more vegetables altogether as our oldest son defected to “team Veggie” this summer. It came as a bit as a surprise to me, especially considering his prior fondness for bacon, crispy chicken, and Japanese Chicken Katsu Curry in particular. With this recipe from the October 2020 edition of Olive Magazine, we found a worthy replacement (with superior crunch!) in panko-coated aubergine slices, which are healthier to boot as they are oven-baked instead of shallow or deep-fried.

With the addition of the spices, garlic, and ginger, the katsu sauce already has heaps of flavor. The vegetable stock is essentially reduced as well, so with the addition of just 1 tbsp of soy sauce, the katsu curry sauce will already be salty enough. As panko breadcrumbs usually already have some salt added, I didn’t use any salt to season the flour for coating the aubergine slices or in the katsu curry sauce. I only added a couple of grinds of fresh black pepper to both for perfect seasoning. 

I did reduce the quantity of vegetable stock in the recipe below with 100ml / about ½ cup as the sauce was a bit too liquid for our liking – even after using the stick blender – and further reduction would make it too salty. A runny sauce is not necessarily bad as the jasmine rice will nicely absorb it, but we prefer a thicker one to coat the aubergines properly. 

Instead of using a well-oiled baking tray, I used a baking parchment sheet to prevent the panko coating from sticking to the baking tray. To get the desired crispiness, I did drizzle about 1 tbsp of olive oil over the aubergine slices before they hit the oven and after turning them halfway.

The recipe (serves 4)

For the crispy aubergines

  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 125g / 2 cups of panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 aubergines, cut in 1 cm / ½ inch slices
  • jasmine rice, to serve (we usually take 60g / 2oz dried rice per person)
  • 1 small bunch of spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal, to serve

For the katsu curry sauce

  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • a thumb-sized piece ginger a thumb-sized piece, grated or finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp medium curry powder 
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 600ml / 2¼ cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC / 355ºF.
  2. For the sauce, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan, cook the onion and carrot for about 10 minutes until the onion is soft. Add the ginger and garlic, and cook for a few minutes before tipping in the flour, curry powder, and garam masala. Cook for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually add the vegetable stock while stirring until you have a smooth sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes until thickened, add the soy sauce and honey, and use a stick blender until entirely smooth. Keep warm.
  3. In the meantime, put the flour, eggs, and panko each in shallow bowls. Roll the aubergine slices first in the flour, then in the egg wash, and finally coat thoroughly in the panko breadcrumbs.
  4. Arrange the slices on a baking parchment-lined oven tray and drizzle over about 1 tbsp of olive oil. Then bake for 30 minutes until golden and crisp, turning them halfway and then drizzling over another 1 tbsp of olive oil.
  5. In the meantime, cook the jasmine rice according to the package instructions. 
  6. When everything is cooked, divide the jasmine rice between the plates and top with the aubergine slices, katsu curry sauce, and finish with the spring onions.

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