Homemade Vegan Japanese Curry
If you’ve never had Japanese curry, let’s just make sure you’re prepared for what you’re getting into here. The Japanese style is roux-based, thicker and generally a little more mild in terms of flavor.
What you find in Asian grocery stores, while quick and easy and satisfying, is usually full of preservatives. The good news is that making your own homemade version is easy — maybe just not quite as quick.
The key to getting good textures in this curry is being mindful about how you cut your veggies. Unless you’re using whole baby carrots, cut your carrot pieces into different lengths so they all cook evenly with the potatoes.
Ingredients for the roux
4 tbsp all-purpose flour
4 tbsp vegan butter
1 tbsp curry powder
1 ½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp paprika
Ingredients for the curry
2 tbsp oil
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” chunks
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped.
2 tbsp dark-chocolate chips (optional)
1 apple, peeled, cored and shredded
4 cups of water
Salt and pepper to taste
- First make the roux: Melt the butter over medium low heat in a nonstick skillet.
- Once the butter is melted, add the butter. Stir continuously for approximately 10 minutes until the roux has darkened. You’re looking for a light brown, a little after the “blond” stage. The cooking process can obviously be sped up with more heat, but it also carries the risk of burning the mixture and being forced to start over.
- Add the curry powder, garam masala and paprika and stir. Remove the skillet from the heat and continue to stir until all spices have been well incorporated.
- Remove curry roux from the skillet with silicone spatula and set aside (get as much of it as you can!)
- In a large dutch oven or soup pot, add oil over medium high heat.
- Once oil is shimmering, add in onions, potatoes and carrots. As noted above, try to make sure the vegetables are cut so they cook evenly.
- Season veggies with salt and pepper and stir occasionally for approximately five minutes or until you see some browning on the vegetables.
- Add the water to the pot and bring the mix to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and allow to cook for about 10 minutes.
- Once potatoes are just about fork tender, add the curry roux and mix, mix, mix. Make sure to stir in and break up all big dollops. It will take a minute or so for the roux to work its thickening magic on the entire pot.
- Once roux is well distributed, add shredded apple and dark chocolate chips. The apple adds natural sweetener, and the chocolate is one of those “I can’t put my finger on it” ingredients that gives the curry a wonderfully smooth finish.
- Turn off the heat and serve curry over steamed rice, tofu katsu, croquettes, seitan katsu, deep-fried gyoza — anything.
- Refrigerated leftovers will last three or four days.
Vegan Croquettes (Korokke)
What’s not to love about fried mashed potatoes? This classic Japanese comfort food is perfect as a side dish or an entree all on its own.
The pre-fried patties store well in the freezer, and if you have a few that you did fry but didn’t eat (which would be an accomplishment), stick them in the fridge and make a street food staple, the korokke sandwich the next day.
Since there are no animal products in this meal, note the call for vegan butter and coconut oil. These are there to help build up some fat for the mixture to clump up. If you prefer to leave them out, a few tablespoons of water will help the mixture stick together.
Although it does take some time to prepare everything, the results are well worth it. There’s nothing quite like homemade (and kid-friendly) korokke.
1 ½ hours
3 (8-10 palm-sized patties)
3 lbs russet/Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 medium onion, minced (do your best to not get any big chunks, it makes forming harder)
1 tbsp vegan butter
½ tsp coconut oil (optional)
Salt to taste
¾ cup all-purpose flour
Egg replacer (aquafaba, Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacement, flax egg, etc.)
1 cup panko
Neutral oil for frying
- Place peeled, quartered potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to fully submerge.
- Boil potatoes until easily pierced with a fork.
- While potatoes are boiling, cook onions in a skillet over medium heat, stirring until onions brown and soften. Add in (optional) coconut oil and continue to stir.
- Drain potatoes and return them to the pot to allow excess moisture to evaporate.
- Give the potatoes a little shake. You’re looking for them to start looking shaggy.
- After a few minutes, mash them up with a hand masher. (Small chunks are OK.)
- Add onions and vegan butter and mix with a spoon until onions are distributed evenly and butter is melted. (Or add water in tablespoon increments until mixture starts to stick together if you choose the non-butter version)
- Allow mixture to cool before forming into korokke patties. This recipe will yield approximately 8-10 palm-sized patties. Place patties on a baking sheet. (You can cover them and stick them in the fridge if you are frying them later.)
- Prepare stations for breading process.
- Put the egg replacement in a shallow bowl large enough for you to flip the korokke inside. Add a few tablespoons of water to thin it out — the mixture itself is just to help the panko adhere to the korokke, so it should not be thick. Whichever replacement you use, it should only need 1 “egg” worth.
- Add panko to a small baking sheet or in a deep food storage container.
- Flour the korokke on the baking sheet lightly.
- Put the korokke in the “egg” wash and flip, ensuring the entire patty has been coated.
- Bread the korokke, ensuring the entire patty has panko on it.
- Add frying oil to pan and heat on medium heat to about 350º F (177º C). If you do not have a thermometer, test by tossing in a couple flakes of panko. It should start frying immediately. If they brown too quickly (less than a minute), turn the heat to medium low.
- Place korokke in the pan carefully. Since all the ingredients are already cooked inside, all you are doing is browning the panko on the outside.
- Fry in batches, placing finished korokke on a wire rack on top of some paper towels.
- Serve immediately with tonkatsu sauce or Ella’s favorite, ketchup.