Tofu Katsu

Eat Healthy

Chicken katsu is a classic comfort food in Hawaii. 

Described as an “upscale version of the chicken nugget,” chicken katsu is traditionally a breaded chicken cutlet that is deep-fried until golden-brown and crispy on the outside, but tender and juicy on the inside. 

For a healthier take on this island favorite, try this recipe for Tofu Katsu, courtesy of the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program at Straub Medical Center. 

“This recipe was originally created by our Ornish program staff to provide a more local option for Hawaii participants on the Ornish diet," says Maria Tointon, a registered dietitian with the program. 

“Tofu is a nutrient-dense source of complete protein containing beneficial plant compounds called isoflavones. These isoflavones have been linked to a lot of the health benefits, including reducing your risk of certain cancers, diabetes and heart disease,” Tointon adds. 

The process for making tofu katsu is similar to any other katsu (chicken katsu, tonkatsu, etc.), but far simpler and less messy. 

First, you dredge the pieces of tofu in a seasoned mixture of whole-wheat flour. 

Next, quickly dunk the tofu into egg whites so that they’re good and sticky. 

Last, roll them in a bowl of panko breadcrumbs until well coated. 

Line up your tofu squares nicely on a parchment-lined baking tray and bake to crispy perfection. 

"The result still provides a golden-brown coating and crispy texture without all the added fat and calories,” Tointon says. 

Served with a homemade katsu sauce, this recipe is a great pupu. 

You can also add on a salad, grilled veggies, quinoa or brown rice to turn it into a light meal.


Tofu Katsu

Recipe courtesy of the Straub Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program

Serves 4



For the katsu sauce:

1/4 cup reduced-sugar ketchup

1 tablespoon low-sodium tamari

1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce

3/4 teaspoon chili powder


For the tofu katsu:        

1 (12-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry

1/3 cup whole-wheat flour, plus more as needed

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 egg whites

1 cup whole-wheat or panko bread crumbs



1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. To make katsu sauce, stir together ketchup, 1/4 cup water, tamari, chili garlic sauce and chili powder. Set aside to let flavors mingle.

2. Line a sheet pan with paper towels. Cut tofu into 1-inch cubes. Place tofu cubes on paper towels and set aside.

3. Place three small bowls in a row. Mix flour with garlic powder, salt and pepper in the first bowl. Lightly froth egg whites with a fork in the second bowl. Place bread crumbs in the third bowl.

4. Gently press each tofu square to remove any excess moisture. Working in small batches with 3 or 4 pieces of tofu at a time, dredge the cubes in wheat flour, covering all sides. Transfer tofu to second bowl and coat all sides in the egg whites. Lifting one piece of tofu at a time from egg whites, transfer to third bowl and coat all sides with bread crumbs. Place breaded tofu on prepared sheet pan. Repeat procedure until all tofu is breaded.

5. Place pan in oven and bake until lightly browned, 15 minutes. Flip tofu with a spatula and cook for another 15 minutes. Remove tofu katsu from oven and serve warm with katsu sauce alongside. 


Nutritional information per serving:

Calories: 247; Carbohydrates: 32.7g; Protein: 15.3g; Total Fat: 6.6g; Saturated Fat: 0.8g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Dietary Fiber: 2.2g; Sodium: 804mg



Published on: January 11, 2023