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This vegan version of the Japanese tonkatsu sandwich looks extremely similar and tastes just as good!
I recently made a tofu katsu sandwich, topped with an array of vegetables, and it became one of my most popular posts. I attempted to mimic the Japanese tonkatsu sandwich, which consists of a deep-fried, crispy chicken or pork cutlet that is typically adorned with tonkatsu sauce and a pile of cabbage. In the previous recipe, I did not use the cabbage slaw, so I decided to make a homemade slaw and add it in the sandwich this time. I visited Japan this past Winter so I clearly remember the taste of the tonkatsu. It was often served with ponzu sauce, a citrus-based soy sauce, that helped balance out the saltiness of the pork cutlet. Therefore, I felt it was important to use ponzu sauce in this recipe as well as traditional Taiwanese flat cabbage for the slaw. Taiwanese flat cabbage is lighter and more tender than traditional cabbage. It unfortunately is pricier in the states, because it isn’t grown as much. I highly recommend using Taiwanese flat cabbage for this recipe, but if you cannot find it, the common cabbage works perfectly fine!
Katsu is traditionally deep-fried, but I wanted to bake it instead and found that sauteeing panko crumbs prior to baking is the key to ultimate crispiness. This trick worked so well, that I will certainly be utilizing this technique from now on. This recipe is plant-based, but if you do enjoy meat, I will say that pressed firm tofu has a similar texture to fish, and marinating does add umami flavor, so this sandwich would be satisfying for meat-eaters as well.
Tofu Katsu & Slaw Sandwich (Vegan + No-Fry)
yield: 2 whole sandwiches, 4 halves
For tofu and sandwich:
- 1 c. panko
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 14-16 oz. extra firm tofu (pressed to release moisture)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 tbsp. tonkatsu sauce
- 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
- 3 tbsp. unsweetened almond milk + 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
- 4 large slices of bread
For cabbage slaw:
- 3 c. shredded flat Taiwanese cabbage OR regular cabbage
- 1 1/2 tbsp. ponzu
- 1/2 tsp. white vinegar
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- salt, to taste
- white sesame seeds, optional
- Combine the slaw ingredients and set aside to allow to marinate for at least 20 min.
- Press tofu for about 20 min. until most of the moisture is released. Use a clean towel or paper towel after to remove any remaining moisture.
- Slice the tofu chunk in half on the long-way so that you have 2 fish-fillet shaped tofu chunks. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the tofu chunks.
- In a shallow dish, add the tonkatsu sauce and place the tofu chunks in to marinade for at least 7 min. Flip the tofu halfway so both sides are marinated.
- Preheat oven to 400 C.
- In the meantime, in a saucepan over medium heat, add the panko crumbs and vegetable oil, and saute occasionally until the panko crumbs become browned. This takes about 8 min.
- In a shallow dish, add the all purpose flour and set aside.
- In a another shallow dish, whisk together the almond milk and cornstarch to make a sticky slurry.
- Take the marinated tofu and coat it with all purpose flour. Next, dip the flour-coated tofu in the cornstarch slurry, and then the panko.
- Place both tofu chunks on a non stick baking tray and bake in the oven at 400 F for 20 min.
- Remove the tofu from the oven, and place on a cooling rack (if you have one) and allow to cool for 5 min.
- To assemble the sandwich, place a generous amount of slaw (about 1/2 c) on one slice of bread. Place the tofu katsu on top and spread about 1/2 tsp. of tonkatsu sauce on the tofu cutlet. Place the other bread slice on top OR add a pan-fried egg. Adding the pan-fried egg does not make the sandwich vegan anymore.
- Carefully slice the sandwich in half, and repeat for the other sandwich.
I hope you all enjoy this tofu katsu and cabbage sandwich. It is so delicious and filling, and the tofu cutlet is so crispy!