“Katsu curry is an unlikely-looking thief of the heart, but this mysterious brown concoction is one of Japan’s favourite dishes. In my take on it, the curry sauce is made using plenty of naturally sweet vegetables, plus a couple of store-cupboard essentials. These modest ingredients come together to form a seductive and silky sauce much greater than the sum of its parts. It’s a message to us all never to judge a dish by its colour. ”
DifficultyNot too tricky
East: 120 Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes from Bangalore to Beijing
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/400°F/gas 6. Put the radishes into a heatproof bowl, cover with 100ml of just-boiled water, and add the salt, mirin and vinegar. Stir and leave to cool.
To make the sauce, heat the oil in a lidded frying pan, then fry the onion, carrots and sweet potato for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, fry for 2 minutes more, cover and leave to steam through for 5 minutes.
Add the curry powder, stir for a couple of minutes, then stir in 2 tablespoons of flour until the vegetables are coated. Add the stock a little at a time, then bring to the boil. Add the soy sauce, ketchup and ½ teaspoon of salt, then take off the heat. Blend smooth, then return the sauce to the pan.
Line an oven tray with baking paper. Put the aubergines on a plate. Put 8 tablespoons of flour on a second, lipped plate, then slowly mix the flour with about 180ml of water and ½ teaspoon of salt to make a thin paste. Put the panko on a third plate. Cover both sides of each aubergine slice in the flour paste, shaking off any excess, then press into the panko to coat. Lay the coated slices on the prepared tray and drizzle both sides with oil. Bake for 15 minutes on each side, turn the heat up to 220°C fan/240°C/475°F/gas 9 and cook for 10 minutes more, until crisp, then take out of the oven.
Just before serving, gently reheat the curry sauce for 5 minutes, adding more water and salt if need be for taste and consistency. Put 3 or 4 aubergine slices on each plate, douse them in the sauce, then serve with some drained pickled radish, rice, salad leaves and a sprinkling of black sesame seeds if you like.
The sauce freezes well, so feel free to double up when making.