Kid-friendly Japanese Tofu Crispy Katsu + Broccoli Fried "Rice" + Lucky Melon Soda Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Family Meal Plan: Japanese Tofu Crispy Katsu + Broccoli Fried "Rice" + Lucky Melon Soda

Family Meal Plan: Japanese Tofu Crispy Katsu + Broccoli Fried "Rice" + Lucky Melon Soda

Japanese Tofu Crispy Katsu + Broccoli Fried "Rice" + Lucky Melon Soda

by Dylan Sabuco
Photo by Nishihama/Shutterstock.com
prep time
20 minutes
cook time
25 minutes
makes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Japanese Tofu Crispy Katsu

Tofu is one of those ingredients that everyone has an opinion about. Usually, that opinion is something like "this is bland" or "the texture is weird," but our Japanese Tofu Crispy Katsu (KAHT-soo) will change all those naysayers' minds! Breading tofu in a seasoned mixture of cornstarch creates an incredibly crispy, crunchy, and savory treat that will leave everyone clamoring for more!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief
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Shopping List

  • Fresh:
  • 1 block, firm tofu **(for SOY ALLERGY sub 1 eggplant)**
  • 1 large broccoli head
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 bell pepper (red, green, yellow, or orange are all fine)
  • 1 small melon (honeydew, cantaloupe, or watermelon are great)
  • Pantry:
  • 1/2 C vegetable oil (possibly more for larger skillet)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp ginger, ground or fresh
  • 5 T cornstarch
  • 4 T panko bread crumbs **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free panko breadcrumbs)**
  • 4 T soy sauce **(for GLUTEN/SOY ALLERGY sub coconut aminos)**
  • 2 C sparkling water
  • 1/4 C white sugar
  • Dairy and Eggs:
  • 1 egg **(for EGG ALLERGY sub 1 T flax seed + 1/4 C water)**
  • 1/2 C heavy whipping cream **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub 1/2 C dairy-free/nut-free whipping cream or milk)**

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • blend :

    to stir together two or more ingredients until just combined; blending is a gentler process than mixing.

  • chop :

    to cut something into small, rough pieces using a blade.

  • knife skills :

    Bear Claw (growl), Pinch, Plank, and Bridge (look out for trolls)

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

  • mix :

    to thoroughly combine two or more ingredients until uniform in texture.

  • pan-fry :

    to fry in a pan in a small amount of fat.

  • pour :

    to cause liquid, granules, or powder to stream from one container into another.

  • season :

    to add flavor to food with spices, herbs, and salt.

  • slice :

    to cut into thin pieces using a sawing motion with your knife.

  • stir-fry :

    to cook meat, fish, or vegetables rapidly over high heat while stirring briskly—used in Asian cooking.

Equipment Checklist

  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Small bowls
  • Spatula
  • Whisk
  • Measuring spoons
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Wok or large sauté pan
  • Grater
  • Blender (or pitcher + immersion blender)
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Ingredients

Japanese Tofu Crispy Katsu

  • 1 block, firm tofu **(for SOY ALLERGY sub 1 eggplant)**
  • 1/4 C vegetable oil (possibly more for larger skillet)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp ginger, ground or fresh
  • 4 T cornstarch
  • 4 T panko breadcrumbs **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free panko breadcrumbs)**
  • 1 egg **(for EGG ALLERGY sub 1 T flax seed + 1/4 C water—more info below)**

Broccoli Fried "Rice"

  • 1 large head of broccoli
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 green onion
  • 1 bell pepper (red, green, yellow or orange are all fine)
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 4 T soy sauce **(for GLUTEN/SOY ALLERGY sub coconut aminos)**
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 pinch of black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ginger, ground or fresh
  • 1/4 C vegetable oil

Lucky Melon Soda

  • 1 small melon (honeydew, cantaloupe, or watermelon are great)
  • 1/2 C heavy whipping cream **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub 1/2 C dairy-free/nut-free whipping cream or milk)**
  • 1/4 C white sugar
  • 2 C sparkling water
  • ice (optional)

Food Allergen Substitutions

Japanese Tofu Crispy Katsu

  • Soy: Substitute 1 eggplant for tofu in Katsu.
  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free panko breadcrumbs for panko in Katsu.
  • Egg: For 1 egg in Katsu, substitute 1 T flax seed + 1/4 C water, well mixed. Soak flaxseeds in warm water for 5 minutes or until fully absorbed and thickened.

Broccoli Fried "Rice"

  • Soy: Substitute coconut aminos for soy sauce in Fried "Rice."

Lucky Melon Soda

  • Dairy: Substitute dairy-free/nut-free whipping cream or milk for heavy whipping cream in Soda.

Instructions

Japanese Tofu Crispy Katsu

1.
slice + measure

Slice 1 block of firm tofu into 1/4-inch thick, rectangular slices. Set the sliced tofu on a plate or cutting board lined with paper towels. The paper towels underneath the tofu will absorb some of the water that was sealed in the package with the tofu. Wet tofu doesn’t turn golden brown! Measure the 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon ginger, 4 tablespoons cornstarch, and 4 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs in one small bowl. Whisk the dry breading ingredients together.

2.
crack + scramble

Crack 1 egg into a different small bowl and whisk to scramble the egg.

3.
bread + fry

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat (may need a few tablespoons more oil depending on skillet size). While the oil is heating, dip each piece of tofu into the egg (be sure to shake off any excess drips of egg), then dip the egg-covered tofu into the panko mixture (again, shake off any excess panko). Once all of the tofu is breaded, start carefully laying the tofu in the pan. It will sizzle for 5 minutes on each side before turning golden brown. When golden brown, remove from the pan and serve alongside the Broccoli Fried "Rice" (see recipe).

Broccoli Fried "Rice"

1.
chop + stir fry

Chop 1 head of broccoli. The curly, green top of the broccoli will be the “rice” in this dish. Grate the top off the broccoli over a large bowl, then chop the rest of the broccoli as finely as possible. Also, chop 1 carrot, 2 green onions, and 1 bell pepper into a rough chop. Measure 1/4 cup of vegetable oil and pour into a large sauté pan or a wok, then turn the heat to medium-high.

2.
important note

Stir-frying was traditionally done over an open fire with excessive heat touching the bottom of the pan, so it is crucial to stir while you fry to prevent the food from burning on the bottom of the pan. Also, never leave the skillet uncovered and unattended. It's important for the safety of your students that you monitor the skillet thoroughly whenever frying.

3.
add + stir

Add the chopped vegetables to the pan or wok. Sizzle and stir for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat if the oil is sizzling out of the pan.

4.
measure + simmer

Reduce the heat to low, then measure 2 teaspoons cornstarch, 4 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 pinch of salt, 1 pinch of black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon ginger and add to a small bowl. Whisk until the cornstarch is fully incorporated. Then, pour the soy sauce mixture into the pan. Stir for 5 more minutes. The sauce will thicken and coat the stir fried vegetables. Serve with the Japanese Tofu Crispy Katsu (see recipe) over top and some Lucky Melon Soda (see recipe) to wash it down.

Lucky Melon Soda

1.
blend + measure + pour

Cut 1 small melon in half and scoop all the juicy fruit out with a spoon. Place all of the melon in the bottom of a pitcher with 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream and 1/4 cup sugar and blend until smooth. Continue blending while you pour in 2 cups of sparkling water. Once fully blended, pour over ice and enjoy!

Surprise Ingredient: Tofu!

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Photo by KatMoy/Shutterstock.com

Hi! I'm Tofu!

"I'm also called "bean curd" because Tofu (TOH-foo) is made from soybeans. I'm a great substitute for meat and eggs in many recipes, while my spongy texture absorbs the flavors of a dish's marinade, sauce, or seasoning!"

History & Etymology

  • Sources disagree on when the making of tofu began. Some say it was discovered about 2,000 years ago in China during the Han dynasty, and some say it was closer to 1,000 years ago. Legend says that Prince Liu An found the process for making tofu during the Han dynasty. Whether he did or the invention was just attributed to him, the Han dynasty tofu may not have resembled what we have now.
  • Another theory for tofu's discovery is ascribed to the addition of impure sea salt to a boiled soybean mixture that caused the concoction to curdle. Some also believe the credit goes to borrowed milk-curdling techniques from the Mongolians or East Indians.
  • Zen Buddhist monks introduced "Chinese tofu" to Japan in the late 8th century, where it was used as a replacement for meat and fish. Chinese immigrants brought tofu to Southeast Asia sometime between the 10th and 11th centuries. 
  • In the United States, tofu was first mentioned by Benjamin Franklin in letters written to two different people. He had tried it in London and referred to it as Chinese "cheese" made from soybeans.
  • The first tofu factory in the United States was established in 1878. The oldest currently running tofu company is Ota Tofu in Portland, Oregon, founded in 1911. 
  • The word "tofu" comes from the Japanese "tōfu," from the Chinese "dòufu," from "dòu" ("beans") and fŭ ("rot").

How to Select & Eat

  • The types of tofu you can buy are silken or soft, medium (regular or medium-firm), firm, and extra firm. 
  • Silken or soft tofu has not been pressed and has a higher moisture content than firmer tofu. It is similar to yogurt or pudding or a soft, early cheese. You can use it to make smoothies or as a replacement for eggs.
  • Medium tofu is a popular type, referred to as just "tofu" on some labels. It has a porous texture that is good for mopping up sauces. 
  • Firm tofu has been drained and pressed but still has a high moisture content. Its outside texture is similar to raw meat, and when you press it, it will bounce back. The inside is similar to a firm custard. Firm tofu is versatile to cook and can be pan-fried, deep-fried, or stir-fried. 
  • Extra-firm tofu has had a larger amount of liquid pressed out, and its texture is closer to fully-cooked meat. Therefore, it is a suitable replacement for meat and can be pan-fried, deep-fried, or stir-fried. You can also serve it cold or add it to soup. Extra-firm tofu does not absorb liquid as well as firm tofu, so if you use a marinade, choose medium or firm tofu. 
  • Tofu benefits from being frozen before cooking. Freezing tofu removes more of the liquid and gives it a stronger, firmer, and more meat-like texture. When you cook with frozen tofu, it will not fall apart as easily. Freezing also helps tofu to last longer, and it works with most forms but may be more difficult with the silken type.
  • To freeze tofu, drain the liquid from the package, then remove the block and gently squeeze out any remaining liquid with a paper or kitchen towel (you do not need to press it). Cut it into the size needed for your recipe. If you will be using a portion of a tofu block, separate what you are using, then put the pieces, not touching, on a tray covered with plastic wrap. After the tofu freezes, in about five hours or overnight, you can transfer it to a freezer-safe airtight container or bag. Frozen tofu may not need to be thawed before cooking, depending on your recipe. If you want to thaw it first, let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight, or if needed more quickly, run warm water over it.

Nutrition

  • Tofu is high in protein, which makes it a great meat substitute. Firm tofu has more protein than silken or soft tofu. It also has a higher fat content. 
  • Tofu is considered a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids.
  • Tofu has a good amount of calcium, iron, potassium, and manganese. It can help strengthen bones, lower cholesterol, and prevent coronary heart disease.  
  • People allergic to soy should not consume tofu, which is made from soybeans.

What is Katsu?

Photo by Sergii Koval/Shutterstock.com
  • "Katsu" (KAHT-soo) is a shortened form of the Japanese word "katsuretsu," which means "cutlet." A cutlet is a piece of meat pounded thin and often breaded before being fried in oil or grilled. 
  • In Japan, the dish is "chicken katsu," using chicken breast or thigh breaded with flour, panko breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper, and then fried in oil. "Tonkatsu" (pork cutlet) is another version that uses pork loin or filet. 
  • Katsu is served with tonkatsu sauce, which is similar to Worcestershire sauce. It is a brown vegetable and fruit sauce and may include tomato, prune, apple, lemon, carrot, onion, vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices.

Let's Learn About Japan!

Photo by yamasan0708/Shutterstock.com
  • Japan is an East Asian island country with more than 6,800 islands! However, there are five main islands: Hokkaido, Honshu (called "Hondo" or "mainland"), Kyushu, Okinawa, and Shikoku. 
  • The country is governed by a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy, with an emperor, a prime minister, and a legislature. 
  • Japanese is the official language, with English becoming more widespread in business and education. 
  • Japan lies on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," contributing to its island geography. There are more than 111 active volcanoes, and Japan has the most earthquakes every year. Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain and volcano in Japan at 12,389.2 feet. 
  • Tokyo is Japan's capital and largest city. Japan's total area is 145,937 square miles, and its population is over 125.5 million. 
  • The Japanese word for Japan is "Nihon" or "Nippon." The Japanese or "kanji" characters used for its name mean "origin of the sun." This is the source of Japan's nickname, "Land of the Rising Sun." The red circle in the center of the Japanese flag represents the rising sun, or "circle of the sun." 
  • "Kanji" is a Japanese writing system that uses characters derived from Chinese writing. Each character represents a word or words. 
  • Ancient warriors of Japan were known as Samurai and were highly skilled swordsmen and fighters. 
  • Japan's national flower is the cherry blossom. The symbolism of the cherry blossom is abundant in Japan. The cherry blossom tree is also known as the Japanese cherry or "Sakura" (which means "cherry blossoms").
  • Haiku poetry originated in Japan. Haiku consists of just three lines, with the first line being 5 syllables, the second line 7 syllables, and the 3rd line 5 syllables. 
  • Shigeichi Negishi, a Japanese engineer, created the first karaoke-like machine in 1967, using 8-track tapes and booklets for the lyrics. However, he was not successful in distributing his "Sparko Box" machines. 
  • Then, in the early 1970s, a Japanese musician, Daisuke Inoue, marketed tape machines, taped music, and amplifiers to bars to accompany regular people who wanted to get up on stage and sing, and his karaoke business model took off. 
  • Japan produces the most robotics globally. The ASIMO is a human-like robot created by Japanese engineers of Honda Motor Company in 2000. The acronym stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility.
  • Sumo wrestling is Japan's national sport, and like sumo, other martial arts originated in Japan, including karate, judo, kendo, jujutsu, and aikido. Western sports such as baseball, basketball, and soccer are also popular.
  • Since the 8th century, Coming of Age Day has been a holiday to celebrate a young person reaching the age of maturity—20 years old in Japan. Their special day serves to encourage them as they realize their adulthood. 
  • The Japanese tea ceremony is considered a traditional art in Japan, and some practice it as a hobby to share with family and friends. Tea was brought to Japan from China in the 9th century by a Buddhist monk. It is said that the ritual of drinking green tea began as a way for the monks to keep awake during meditation.
  • Japan has about four million vending machines, the highest per capita worldwide. The machines sell everything from hotdogs to underwear and soup to umbrellas!
  • In addition to sushi, other Japanese dishes include "soba" (thin buckwheat noodles), "teriyaki" (broiled or grilled seafood or meat with a soy sauce glaze), "tempura" (battered and deep-fried seafood, meat, and veggies), and yakitori (skewered grilled chicken). 
  • Many kids and adults enjoy bento boxes, which are lunch boxes filled with sushi and other snacks. Bento boxes are an experience with texture, shapes, and flavors!

What's It Like to Be a Kid in Japan?

  • Most school children in Japan wear uniforms, and their school breaks are shorter than in other countries. 
  • Kids have to learn 1,026 basic kanji characters by the time they finish sixth grade.
  • Parents and schools teach kids to respect their elders, teachers, and each other.
  • Primary school kids eat lunch together in their classrooms. A few students are assigned to get the lunches, serve them to their classmates, and return the dirty dishes to the school kitchen. Every student prepares themselves for lunch by cleaning their desks and washing their hands. In some schools they even put on a lunch uniform—a white garment and hat—to protect their clothes.
  • Some of the sports and martial arts kids participate in are baseball, soccer, swimming, judo, kendo, and karate.
  • School lunch may consist of rice or noodles, soup, fish or meat, fruit, salad, a cup of tea, and always a bottle or carton of milk.  
  • Two popular sweet treats kids in Japan like are "mochi," a molded cake made of rice, sugar, cornstarch, and water, sometimes with a sweet red bean filling, and "Pocky," a brand of chocolate-coated biscuit sticks.

That's Berry Funny

Why did the Tofu cross the road? 

To prove he wasn’t chicken!

Lettuce Joke Around

How do you make a cantaloupe shake? 

Put it into the freezer until it shivers.

Lettuce Joke Around

What did the broccoli say to the ranch dressing?

I’m going to take a dip.

Lettuce Joke Around

What did the one melon say to the other melon when they fell in love? 

We’re just too young ... we cantaloupe!

That's Berry Funny

When do you go at red and stop at green? 

When you’re eating a watermelon!

The Yolk's On You

What did the rice say to the watermelon? 

"Don’t be a slow-POKE!"

Lettuce Joke Around

Why did the cantaloupe jump into the water?

Because it wanted to be a watermelon!

The Yolk's On You

What is a foots’ favorite food? 

Toe-fu!

That's Berry Funny

A watermelon proposed to its sweetheart: “Honeydew, wanna get married?”

“Oh yes,” she replied, “but we cantaloupe!”

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