To prepare the pumpkin
Start by cutting the pumpkin katsu wedges. With a heavy kitchen knife, chop the pumpkin in half, scraping out the fleshy insides and setting this aside along with the seeds. Chop one of the halves into thin wedges or slices, no more than a few centimetres or 1 inch thick. Any bigger and they may take too long to fry later. Pumpkins vary in size and shape, but we would suggest 2 wedges per serving per person.
Once you’ve set aside the wedges, weigh out 300 g of additional pumpkin pieces and soft pumpkin inner flesh – this will become the bulk of the pumpkin curry sauce. The sauce can be made the day before you are planning to serve the dish then warmed up in a saucepan.
To make the katsu sauce
To a large saucepan, add the oil over a medium heat. Once the oil is warm, add the finely sliced onion and roughly chopped carrot and soften them together for 5-10 minutes until the onion is translucent and smelling fragrant. Season with a pinch of salt. Next add the garlic, ginger and curry powder, making sure the aromatics and spices have contact with the oily bottom of the pan.
After a minute or so, add the pumpkin chunks and flesh, and the apple, and stir well. Pour in the coconut milk and add a tablespoon of veggie bouillon or a veggie stock cube. Mix well again, bring to a simmer and let the mixture bubble away for 10-15 minutes until the pumpkin is soft and cooked through. Once it’s cooked, stir in the Chinese five spice and garam masala. Blend the mixture until smooth.
To cook the pumpkin wedges
For the katsu pumpkin wedges, you will need two different mixing bowls for dredging. In one bowl, combine the plain flour and water with a bit of salt and pepper and a teaspoon of paprika. Whisk until you have a loose pancake-style batter, adding a little splash of water if it’s too thick. In a separate bowl add the panko breadcrumbs.
Take a high sided frying pan or saucepan and add a couple of inches of vegetable oil, enough to be able to come halfway up the side of the pumpkin wedges. Warm this over a medium heat until hot – the oil will be at the right temperature if you insert the end of a handle of a wooden spoon into the oil tiny bubbles form around it.
Back to the dredging; keeping one hand ‘wet’ and the other ‘dry’, first dredge each wedge in the batter mixture, then drop it into the panko breadcrumb bowl, tossing gently and sprinkling the breadcrumbs over with your dry hand. Picking it back up with your ‘wet’ hand, pop it back in the batter bowl for a second time, then repeat the process. This is called ‘double dredging’ and really helps cement the crispy outside to the final katsu pieces.
Warm your oven slightly to keep the katsu pieces crispy once they’ve finished frying. If you’re serving sushi rice, start cooking this now according to the packet instructions. Once the wedges have been double dredged, fry the pieces two at a time in the hot oil. When the undersides are golden brown and crispy, turn them over carefully with tongs for another 3-4 minutes to cook on both sides. Put the fried wedges in the warmed oven until you’re ready to serve.
Warm the curry sauce back up in the saucepan and prepare your favourite cucumber pickles or slices of pickled ginger to serve along with lime wedges and sesame seeds.
To eat, dish out the rice into bowls, ladle in generous helpings of the curry sauce and place the crispy golden katsu wedges on top of the rice.