My life can be carved into two parts: a time before katsu sando and the enlightened after period.
It’s hard for a sandwich, the lunchtime stalwart, to break ranks and become exciting and even famous, but it’s easy to see how this Japanese take on it has done just that.
Here, a tofu cutlet is coated with panko breadcrumbs, fried until crisp, then slathered with curried ‘mayo’. Then it’s covered in an eye-opening celeriac and apple slaw before being sandwiched between the softest bread available. It’s carb-on-carb action, and a satisfying sandwich of contrasts.
Tofu katsu sando with celeriac and apple slaw
In January, when UK-grown veg is not very abundant, tofu is a brilliant store-cupboard ingredient to have at your disposal, though cooked, breaded and fried pumpkin/squash or aubergine would also make great fillings. If you have one, use a food processor with the right slicer blade to matchstick the apple and celeriac, or a julienne peeler.
Prep 25 min
Cook 30 min
¼ large celeriac(250g) peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 medium apples (about 200g), core removed and cut into matchsticks
2 tbsp rice-wine vinegar
1½ tsp fine sea salt
2 tbsp coriander leaves, roughly chopped
8 tbsp vegan mayonnaise (I like Leon’s)
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
4 tsp medium curry powder
2 x 280g packs extra-firm tofu
50g panko breadcrumbs
Sunflower or rapeseed oil, for frying
8 slices white bread
In a medium bowl, toss the celeriac and apple with the vinegar, a teaspoon of salt and the coriander, then leave to soften. In a small bowl, whisk half the mayo with the ketchup, two teaspoons of curry powder and a quarter-teaspoon of salt.
Drain the tofu, squeezing out any moisture with your hands, then pat dry with kitchen paper. Cut each block horizontally into four “steaks”, to give eight in all. Put the rest of the mayo, curry powder and a quarter-teaspoon of salt into a shallow bowl, add a tablespoon of warm water and stir to loosen. Put the panko on a lipped plate.
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One by one, cover both sides of the tofu steaks in the curried mayo, shake off any excess, then press into the panko to coat, and lay on an oven tray. Pour ½cm oil into a high-sided, nonstick frying pan and put on medium heat until simmering. Fry half the panko-coated tofu steaks for a minute and a half on each side, until crisp and golden, then transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain. Repeat with the rest of the tofu.
Spread half the curried mayo on four slices of bread. Lay two tofu steaks on top of each slice and top with slaw. Spread the rest of the mayo on the other slices of bread and place on top, mayo side down. Using a bread knife, cut away the crusts, so the bread is the same size as the tofu, then cut each sandwich into four and serve with extra slaw on the side.