Every bite is exciting to eat because the sweet and savory flavors are married in a rich brown curry sauce.
Make this simple classic Japanese dish from scratch or from a box and watch your kids gobble it up!
WHAT IS JAPANESE CURRY?
Curry rice, also known as kare rice (pronounced kar raisu), is a dish brought to Japan from India by the British during the Meiji era (1868–1912).
It was served to the Japanese Imperial Navy to prevent thiamine (vitamin B-1) deficiency, and it became popular throughout Japan in the 1960s when curry was introduced into restaurants and supermarkets.
Kare rice is now considered a national dish and is served as a soup with udon or ramen, in a curry pan (deep-fried bread buns stuffed with curry – the best! ), as fried rice (called dry curry, dorai kar), and in a hot stone bowl with rice on the side (similar to bibimbap), called ishiyaki kar.
WHAT DOES JAPANESE CURRY TASTE LIKE?
Japanese curry is unlike any other curry you’ll find in Asia; it’s not spicy, but rather sweet (which is probably why kids love it), savory, and occasionally spicy.
The sauce has the consistency of a rich and thick demi-glace and is layered with spices and earthy flavors.
WHAT DO YOU PUT IN JAPANESE CURRY?
Curry rice is typically made with onions, carrots, potatoes, and beef. That is the traditional and most widely used combination in Japan.
You can, however, use almost any combination of vegetables and protein to make your own unique curry.
Kabocha squash, mushrooms, green peas, zucchini, chicken, and even chickpeas have been added.
HOW TO MAKE JAPANESE CURRY
- Cook the beef cubes in a large pot and transfer to a plate once done.
- Cook the onions in the pot until they are tender.
- Cook for two minutes after adding the garlic, ginger, and grated apple.
- Sift in the flour and stir to combine.
- Stir in the carrots, potatoes, and spices.
- Bring the tomato paste and red wine to a boil.
- Bring to a boil with the sugar, soy sauce, and water.
- Return the beef to the pot, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
- Cook for an additional 30 minutes after removing the lid.
Fukuzinzuke, a relish made of chopped daikon, eggplant, and lotus root pickled in a soy sauce and corn syrup based liquid, is commonly served with Japanese curry.
The end result is a crunchy relish with sweet and salty flavors that is orange or red in color. It pairs beautifully with Japanese curry, adding depth of flavor to each bite.
You know that well-known Japanese dish with rice, curry, and crispy breaded pork? It’s called katsu kare, and I’ve got a delicious baked version for you!
I substituted chicken for the pork and made a bread that’s super crispy without the need for frying (you already know I’m afraid of hot oil spits!).
This curry recipe combined with baked chicken katsu is the ultimate comfort food that your family will enjoy!
ADJUSTING LEVELS OF SPICINESS
Although adding ground black pepper to Japanese curry is delicious, it will not make your curry hot.
If you like wiping sweat from your brow while eating curry, I recommend ichimi togarashi (ground red chili peppers) or Sichuan chili flakes. Both will provide you with the eye-watering punch of heat you seek.
WHAT TO SERVE THIS JAPANESE CURRY WITH
If you want to serve an authentic Japanese dinner at home, here are some of my favorite quick and easy recipes:
- Tsukemono (Japanese pickles)
- Green Salad with Ginger Dressing from a Japanese Restaurant
- Baked Chicken Katsu on top
- Dengaku Nasu (Japanese eggplant with sweet miso glaze)
- Salad Kani (crab salad)
FREEZING JAPANESE CURRY
Freeze the curry in individual batches (in small airtight food containers or Ziploc bags) and thaw it overnight in the fridge or in the microwave.
It goes well with rice, pasta, and even ramen! A couple of scoops in your ramen and you’ve got yourself a seriously flavorful bowl!
TIPS I USE FOR THIS JAPANESE CURRY RECIPE:
- In the process, add salt bit by bit. Don’t use all of the salt we need at the start or end of the cooking process. By doing so, we layer the saltiness, resulting in a better taste.
- Make your roux until the flour turns golden brown, or dark brown, whichever you prefer. Before adding water, toast the spice mix in the roux for 1 minute to bring out the essential oils in the spices.
- Stir fry the beef until golden brown, then toss with tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. The beef will be more flavorful, and the tomato paste will be caramelized. The sourness of tomato paste will be reduced, allowing the sweetness to shine through.
- If all of the ingredients are already in the pan, cook for 1 hour on low heat until the beef, potato, and carrot are fork tender.
- The meat-to-vegetable ratio is one-to-one. For example, for the meat, I use 350g beef, 200g potato, and 150g carrot.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can bring a whole chuck roast to the meat counter and have it cut for you. Request that they trim the fat and cut it into two-inch chunks. I like big hunks of curry in my curry, but if you prefer a more dainty size, use 1 1/2 inch pieces.
Since its introduction by the British navy in the late 1800s, curry has become ubiquitous in Japan, appearing in everything from bowls of noodles to spicy snacks to seasoned salt for tempura. However, its most traditional Japanese incarnation, kare raisu, is arguably the most comforting.
The thick, rich sauce of a Japanese curry is its defining feature. Many people support and enjoy the sauce’s thickness, which can only be found in Japanese curry. The rich and decadent sauce blends so well with the rice that you’ll find it difficult to stop eating.
Fukujinzuke is a preserved mixture of Japanese radish (daikon), lotus root, cucumber, and eggplant in a soy sauce and sweet cooking wine (mirin) base. The sweet brown or red relish is served with Japanese curry as a garnish (kare raisu).