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katsu curry sauce

{5-minute read}

Easy Katsu Curry Sauce for aaaall the vegetables and proteins! This vibrant Japanese-style sauce is nutritious and uber-delicious. Feel free to go as spicy as you dare. Oh, and it freezes like a dream.

katsu curry sauce as a mealWith travel a distant memory for most of us, many have opted for the passport-free option of eating more globally. Whether at home or as a takeaway, slurpy bowls of steaming noodles and crispy meat-filled empanadas have helped us feel connected and comforted through food.

Although I make most of our meals, we do occasionally eat from trusted takeaways. And we have taken advantage of a few of the higher-end restaurants that have creatively adapted to pandemic restrictions. It’s a real treat to do something normal like eat someone else’s food – even if we have to wash the dishes.

But it can get a bit pricey. And the guilt from the packaging is real (even if most is now compostable). So, for the most part we satisfy our global cuisine cravings by taking the DIY route.

katsu curry sauce and butternut squashWagamama Wannabe

In 2020, the popular UK restaurant chain Wagamama released the recipe for their most popular dish – Chicken Katsu Curry. Rather like Austria’s schnitzel, katsu is a crispy fried cutlet of (usually) meat or fish coated with Japanese panko breadcrumbs.

Katsu kare – kare being the Anglicised Japanese spelling for curry – is panko-crumbed cutlets doused in spicy Japanese curry sauce, arguably Japan’s favourite Western-style food. I mean, who in their right mind wouldn’t do cartwheels of joy for panko crumbed anything slathered in curry sauce?

katsu curry sauce as mealBeing drawn to pan-Asian flavours, and already being a fan of the Wagamama katsu curry, I knew that I wanted to make my own version of their creamy, vibrant Japanese curry sauce. But not the crispy chicken cutlet bit.

{Actually Wagamama has an extensive array of delicious vegan dishes, including two vegan katsu kares.}

Here on the blog, I already have a tried and true Baked Tofu Katsu Curry recipe. And I was pretty surprised to see that my own spicy curry sauce – published in 2018 – is remarkably like the Wagamama one. But this one, my play with the Wagamama recipe, is a bit more stripped down than my original. But I have added a couple of new elements that I think really amp the flavour while still being superbly family-friendly.

Japanese curry sauceA sauce, not a meal.

I know it is obvious but yes, you need something to go with the sauce to make it a meal. Consider almost anything in the plant world fair game. Sturdy is best, but even slippery greens and chewy mushrooms are perfect partners for this swoon-inducing sauce. Here you see that I use an over-the-top-orange butternut squash, roasted rather gently to draw out its natural sweetness without charring it. I will give more ideas to tempt you below. Oh, and rice. A sticky pile of white rice is glorious. Or opt for low-carb (Amazon UK affiliate link) shirataki rice.

katsu curry sauce ingredientsWhat’s in this Katsu Curry Sauce?

Olive oil, or your favourite oil for sautéing

Onion, ginger and garlic are the backbones of the sauce, to sweat down and absorb the curry flavours

Curry powder is the main flavouring. Although katsu sauce tends to be on the mild side, use a medium-heat curry powder if you like. And if you want no heat – thinking of the kiddos here – use garam masala instead. My original recipe uses both.

Turmeric and black pepper – my dynamic duo to turn this into an even more inflammation-reducing dish

Coconut milk – full-fat or reduced fat as you wish. But get good stuff. I like Biona, or any of the other organic brands

Vegetable stock – from a stock cube, powder or ready-made broth

Soy sauce – for the essential umami taste.

Cashews. Yes, cashews. They work brilliantly to thicken the sauce to a silky texture. I use nuts instead of flours to thicken most of my sauces. But you can certainly use flour.

Sooooo, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce and sugar-reduced ketchup are my wild cards. I know it seems weird, but I really think they add depth. These are, however, optional. Be sure to remove the leaves before blending!

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Making the Katsu Curry Sauce

Making this ridiculously good sauce is incredibly easy. I use an upright blender to create an especially velvety, light sauce. But a stick blender works just fine. If you opt to use flour instead of the cashews, you can even use a wooden spoon to push the sauce through a sieve.

Here is how I make the sauce.

Sauté the onion, garlic and ginger until very soft. Then add the aromatics – bay, curry powder, turmeric and black pepper – as well as the cashews. Once the spices are tempting you with their aroma, add the coconut milk, stock, soy, Worcestershire sauce and, ahem, ketchup. Let the sauce simmer – it won’t thicken until you blend. After about 10 minutes, pluck out the bay leaves and blitz the sauce until completely smooth. Taste it and see if you want to add a bit more sweetness – katsu curry sauce is supposed to be a tiny bit sweet.

Your katsu curry sauce is now ready to work magic on your vegetables or proteins of choice!

Japanese curry sauceHow can I use this sauce?

Winter squash or sweet potatoes – cut into chunky wedges then slowly roasted until sweet, soft but still shapely (I tell you how in the recipe card).

Courgettes, salsify, eggplant, celeriac, King oyster mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, sweetcorn – cut into hearty pieces or slender lengths and lightly roasted. Or, you could instead steam your vegetables. And, instead of just one type of vegetable, perhaps use a medley.

butternut squash

And of course, the proteins – chicken breasts (traditional), firm tofu (smoked or plain), salmon, fat jumbo prawns. These would be dipped in a flour and water batter or egg then coated with panko crumbs to either fry or bake. If baking, oil the crumbs first. Refer to my original recipe for baked tofu guidance, or have a look at this katsu recipe using chicken.

I heartily recommend that you make double this recipe and stash a labelled bag of it in the freezer. You’ll be very glad you did.

Tbh, if you have tasted a katsu curry sauce you will probably know exactly what you want to do with it. Let me know in the comments how you would use your katsu curry sauce. PS I like leftover sauce heated and poured over steamed asparagus and a soft-boiled egg. For breakfast. 😉

katsu curry sauce

easy katsu curry sauce recipe - vegan and low-carb
4.72 from 7 votes
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Katsu Curry Sauce

Naturally lower-carb and vegan katsu curry sauce to go with aaaaall the vegetables and proteins! This vibrant Japanese-style sauce is nutritious and uber-delicious. Feel free to go as spicy as you dare. Oh, and it freezes like a dream!

Course Condiments and Sauces
Cuisine Japanese
Keyword katsu curry sauce, low-carb, vegan
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 321 kcal
Author kellie anderson

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil or other favourite cooking oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 fat garlic cloves
  • 20 g ginger
  • 2 bay leaves optional
  • 1.5-2 tbsp medium curry powder or mild; or use garam masala for a non-spicy version
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp black pepper freshly ground - optional
  • 40 g raw cashews toasted or not; non-nut options below
  • 200 ml coconut milk full-fat or reduced fat
  • 300 ml vegetable stock low-sodium if possible
  • 1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or to taste
  • 2 tbsp sugar-free or low-sugar ketchup
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce optional (contains anchovy; vegan versions available online/in health food stores)
  • no-carb sweetener or brown sugar - optional

Instructions

The Katsu Curry Sauce

  1. Peel and chop the onion and garlic; peel and grate the ginger. You will be blending the sauce, so don't worry too much about the size.

  2. Heat your oil of choice in a medium-sized saucepan over a medium heat, and add the chopped and grated vegetables. Once softened lower the heat and add the bay leaves, curry powder, turmeric, black pepper and cashew nuts. Stir well and cook for a couple of minutes, adding a smidge more oil if necessary to prevent sticking.

  3. Pour in the coconut milk, vegetable stock, soy sauce, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  4. Remove from the heat, pluck out the bay leaves, and blend to a silky-smooth sauce by either using a stick blender or transferring to an upright blender. Taste and decide if you need a bit more sweetness from a no-carb sweetener or brown sugar - katsu curry sauce is a touch sweet.

  5. Serve warm over or under rice/shirataki (no-carb) 'rice', roasted vegetables, or panko-crumbed and baked /fried tofu, chicken or fish. Lovely garnishes for a complete dish are toasted sesame seeds, sprigs of coriander/cilantro, sliced spring onion/scallions and a splash of lime juice or Japanese vinegar.

Roasted Butternut Squash - serving suggestion as shown

  1. Peel, seed and slice a small-medium butternut squash or other winter squash - 8 wedges from my smallish one. Coat in a minimum of oil - about 1/2 tbsp - and lay on a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Roast in an oven preheated to 180C fan/400F for 40 minutes, turning occasionally, until tender and lightly singed in places. For more protein, lightly oil slabs of sliced organic tofu and add to the tray after 20 minutes. I served mine with quick-pickled carrots and cucumber.

Recipe Notes

Nutrition information is based on 2 servings, although we have it for 3 servings. Use the nutrition label for guidance only.

Sweeteners: Instead of ketchup you could also use a teaspoon or so of brown sugar or coconut sugar. Ketchup or sugar balance the sauce, and give it the quintessential katsu curry sauce flavour.

No nuts, please: instead of cashews, use either potato starch/tapioca starch (1/2 tbsp), or plain flour (1 tbsp). Add this option at the end of the vegetable sautéing and before adding the liquid. Or you could use pan-toasted sunflower seeds if this is acceptable to you. Nuts and seeds make exceptionally good sauce thickeners.

How hot? Curry powders in the UK typically come in mild, medium and hot strengths. For a highly aromatic but heat-free option use garam masala. This sauce is meant to be punchy, but it doesn't need to be hot!

Freezeable: place in a lidded container or suitable freezer bag (labelled!) and use within one month for best flavour. Defrost before reheating.

What can I do with my katsu curry sauce? You can do a "proper" katsu curry - katsu meaning panko-crumbed and fried cutlets (usually chicken). To do this you would dip your protein choice in beaten egg - or a gram flour and water batter - then into panko crumbs, then shallow frying until cooked through. This is suitable for chicken, tofu and fish. Or, skip the frying and bake. For this option you would oil the crumbs (toss them in a bowl with oil), then coat your egg/batter-dipped protein. Bake as appropriate for your protein. And, of course, you can serve with roasted vegetables - as thick wedges or as a chunky dice - until golden and serve drenched in katsu curry sauce.

Nutrition Facts
Katsu Curry Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 321 Calories from Fat 207
% Daily Value*
Fat 23g35%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Sodium 947mg41%
Potassium 379mg11%
Carbohydrates 20g7%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 373IU7%
Vitamin C 6mg7%
Calcium 54mg5%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

6 thoughts on “Easy Katsu Curry Sauce

  1. Mr A says:

    Anything slathered in sauce is brilliant but this is another level. Sweet roasted butternut squash and this outstanding katsu sauce is blissful!!

  2. calypte says:

    Oh this is definitely getting a go!

  3. Rachel says:

    Traveling the world from your awesomely inventive and colourful kitchen – love it! Really like your flavor-packed additions and alternatives underneath the recipe card!

  4. So good! Just the colour alone 💛💛💛💛

  5. Desicart says:

    Absolutely delicious!What a gorgeous curry!

  6. How mouth watering is that! We all love a katsu so this is great timing. Thank you!

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