Back in my vegetarian days I used to order this "vegetable katsu curry" from a Japanese restaurant back in London. It was mixed vegetables, breaded and deep fried served over steamed rice with a thick curry sauce and oh my word, I loved it! I've been wanting to have a go at making my own for awhile now and am so glad I did. Here, I've opted for just mushrooms instead of mixed veg - in this case portobello mushrooms mostly for their good size when sliced and because they are simply one of my favourite mushrooms!
What I am most excited about is the breading recipe here, I used to do my breading with cornstarch then my homemade egg replacer, then the breadcrumbs. I decided to try replacing the egg replacer with straight up unsweetened soy yogurt and wow! This makes the absolute BEST breading for deep frying. Tasty and SUPER crispy, with a nice thick breading that does not fall off. It's just perfect.
The sauce took a couple of goes to get right, my first attempt just wasn't very good at all! I then saw this recipe on allrecipes and decided to try it (with a little adapting to my personal tastes) and thankfully it worked perfectly! Great flavour altogether, in fact, I couldn't stop "testing" it while I was waiting for the mushrooms and rice to cook :-)
For the rice, when I first made this I simply used boiled white basmati rice and it was fine but as this is a Japanese curry dish I felt it should really be with sushi/Japanese rice. I've always had problems getting sushi rice just right when I'm not using it for sushi, in other words when I'm not adding sushi seasoning afterwards. Thankfully, The Kitchn has come to the rescue with their tutorial on "How to make Japanese Rice on the Stove" - finally I'm getting it right everytime - tender rice with just the right amount of stickiness. I'll post the recipe here for my quantities but do click on the link for their full tutorial if this has been an issue for you as well.
Portobello Mushroom Katsu Curry with Japanese Rice
Breaded & Fried Portobello Mushrooms:
2 - 3 Portobello Mushrooms
½ cup or so of unsweetened soy yogurt
2 cups breadcrumbs or panko
¼ cup cornflour (cornstarch) to coat
Vegetable oil to fry
Coat the mushroom slices in the cornflour, tapping off any excess flour. Turn over in the yogurt until coated and then coat in breadcrumbs. Note: it may seem difficult at first to coat them in the yogurt but just keep turning them in the yogurt - they will coat eventually :-) Set aside. Heat the oil to 350F and deep fry until golden brown – ensure mushrooms are cooked through by testing one. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with a little salt.
1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
1 onion, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
½ large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
½ tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 medium carrot, sliced
1 tablespoon plain flour
2 teaspoons curry powder
¼ tsp turmeric
300ml vegetable stock – I made mine with 1 tsp Marigold Vegan Bouillon Powder
1 teaspoon light sweet freedom syrup (or light agave)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 small bay leaf
Heat the oil in a saucepan until melted, add the onion and carrot and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli for the last couple of minutes.
Add the flour, turmeric and curry powder; cook for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the stock, I added about a quarter of the stock, stirred well, then another quarter etc..until all added. Now add the syrup, soy sauce and bay leaf.
Bring to the boil then turn down heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until sauce thickens but is still of pouring consistency. Pour the curry sauce through a sieve and discard the vegetables. Return the sauce to the saucepan and heat on low heat until it thickens a little more. If it seems a bit runny just remove from the heat and set aside for 5-10 minutes. It'll thicken up a bit without getting cold, stir it now and again to keep smooth.
Sauce adapted from: allrecipes: Chicken Katsu Curry.
125g sushi rice (1/2 cup)
140 ml water (1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp)
1/8 tsp salt
Wash the rice really well, several times until the water runs clear. Place in a non-stick pan with a tight fitting lid with the water and salt and let sit for 10 minutes. Set timer for 10 minutes then turn the heat on to high. When it is boiling, reduce to the lowest heat to simmer. When the time is up, remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes – do not lift the lid! Toss the rice with a rubber spatula to loosen before serving.
Rice method source: The Kitchn - How to Make Japanese Rice on the Stove.
Spoon the rice onto plates, spoon over most of the sauce, lay the breaded mushrooms over top and drizzle some more of the sauce over the mushrooms. (Don't put all the sauce over the mushrooms like I did here or you will lose all of the crispiness!)