As part of our commitment to helping curious humans enhance their lives, we’re sharing a series of wholesome, healthy recipes from Australia’s most inspiring chefs, cooks and food writers. This recipe comes from Eat More Vegan – the most recent cookbook from bestselling author and clean-eating advocate Luke Hines.
With its crispy coconut coating and rich curry sauce, this vegan version of the popular Japanese dish ticks all the taste and health boxes for me. This recipe is inspired by childhood days spent walking past my local Japanese takeaway shop after school and picking up a bento box that always included katsu curry. It was by far my favourite part of the day.
For the eggplant
2 eggplants, cut lengthways into 1 cm thick slices
2 teaspoons sea salt
60 g (1⁄2 cup) arrowroot or tapioca flour
3 tablespoons coconut flour
11⁄2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
200 ml filtered water
3 tablespoons coconut cream
90 g (1 cup) desiccated coconut
170 g (1 cup) hemp seeds
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons garlic powder
coconut oil, for deep-frying
800 g (4 cups) Cauliflower Rice cooked, to serve
For the curry sauce
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon arrowroot or tapioca flour
375 ml (11⁄2 cups) vegetable stock
2 tablespoons coconut aminos or tamari
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup or coconut nectar
For the salad
1⁄4 small green cabbage, outer leaves discarded, finely shredded
1⁄4 small red cabbage, outer leaves discarded, finely shredded
2 spring onions, finely sliced diagonally, plus extra to serve
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup or coconut nectar
Arrange the eggplant slices on two trays in a single layer. Sprinkle over the salt and set aside for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the curry sauce. Heat the coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium–high heat. Add the onion, garlic and curry powder and cook, stirring, for 3–4 minutes, or until the onion is softened.
Stir in the arrowroot or tapioca flour, then gradually pour in the stock, stirring constantly, until fully incorporated. Add the coconut aminos or tamari, vinegar and sweetener and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5–10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly, then transfer to a food processor and blitz until smooth. Set aside. Combine the arrowroot or tapioca flour and coconut flour in a shallow bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the ground
flaxseeds, water and coconut cream. In a third bowl, combine the desiccated coconut, hemp seeds, sesame seeds and garlic powder and mix well.
Using paper towel, wipe the salt from the eggplant slices and pat dry. Place an eggplant slice in the flour mixture and turn to coat, shaking off the excess. Next, dip it in the flaxseed mixture and finally in the coconut and hemp seed mixture, pressing down lightly to secure the crumb. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices until they are all coated.
Heat a large, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat and fill with the coconut oil to a depth of 1 cm. Heat the oil to 180°C. (To test if the oil is hot enough, simply drop a small piece of bread into it – if it sizzles and bubbles, you’re good to go.) Add half the eggplant slices and cook for 4–5 minutes on each side, or until golden. Carefully remove the eggplant and drain on paper towel. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices.
To make the salad, add the green and red cabbage and spring onion to a bowl, drizzle over the vinegar and sweetener and toss to combine.
When ready to serve, reheat the curry sauce in a saucepan over medium heat. Divide the salad and cauliflower rice among plates, top with the eggplant, drizzle over the warm curry sauce and sprinkle over a little extra spring onion.
Eat More Vegan by Luke Hines, Published by Plum, RRP $26.99, Photography by Mark Roper
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