When you are too busy to cook, what is your go-to meal that you plan ahead of time? For my mom it was Japanese Curry aka Curry Rice (Kare Raisu/カレーライス) because she could cook it the day before, and it would taste just as good or even better the second day. I never ever get tired of eating Japanese Curry and I used to wish that my mom was busier so that I could eat Japanese Curry more often.
I know some of you are probably surprised to hear there is a Japanese version of curry, but yes we do! And Japanese curry is quite popular for all generations in Japan and it’s widely available in many restaurants. The Japanese curry is a popular dish outside of Japan as well, especially in Asian countries.
The curry was introduced to Japan in late 1800 by the British and originally it was Western-style stews mixed with curry powder. The Japanese adapted curry to their own version, Curry Rice (Kare Raisu, カレーライス) soon after. By 1950s the curry roux in block form was sold by S&B Foods and everyone could make it easily at home.
What is the difference between Japanese and Thai or Indian curry? The Japanese curry sauce is much thicker and sweeter and it’s always served with rice.
The reason why we can make the Japanese curry in a short time is that we use the convenient Japanese Curry Sauce Mix (curry roux カレールー). I’m not a big fan of “instant” or boxed food, but I have to say Japanese Curry Roux is an exception!
Each brand usually comes with 3 levels of spiciness – Mild, Medium, or Hot. Since these are packaged for Japanese taste, the hot is not nearly as spicy as Thai or Indian curry.
If you are going to use a box of curry roux, I highly recommend you to mix up 2-3 different brands of roux and add ketchup, soy sauce, and/or tonkatsu sauce (or worcestershire sauce) to enhance the flavor and give some complexity to the sauce.
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs (or beef, pork, seafood, tofu, or vegetables)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 carrots
- 2 onions
- 1-2 potatoes
- 1/2 Tbsp. ginger
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 QT (4 cups/1000ml) chicken broth (or water if you use store bought curry roux)
- 1 apple (I used Fuji apple)
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 2 tsp. salt
- Homemade Japanese curry roux or 1 box (7 oz, 200g) store bought Japanese curry roux
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. ketchup
- Soft boiled egg
- Fukujinzuke (pickles)
- Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towel. Discard the extra fat and cut it into bite size pieces. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
- Peel and cut the carrot in rolling wedges (Rangiri) and cut the onions in wedges.
- Cut the potatoes into 1.5 inch pieces and soak in water for 15 minutes to remove excess starch.
- Grate the ginger and crush the garlic.
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat and sauté the onions until they become translucent.
- Add the ginger and garlic.
- Add the chicken and cook until the chicken changes color.
- Add the carrot and mix.
- Add the chicken broth (or water).
- Bring the stock to boil and skim the scrum and fat from the surface of the stock.
- Peel the apple and coarsely grate the apples.
- Add the honey and salt and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender, and turn off the heat. Meanwhile you can make homemade curry roux.
- When the potatoes are ready, add the curry. If you use the store-bought curry roux, put 1-2 blocks of roux in a ladle and slowly let it dissolve with spoon or chopsticks. Continue with the rest of blocks. Then go to Step #17.
- If you are using homemade curry roux, add a ladleful or two of cooking liquid from the stock and mix into the curry paste. Add more cooking liquid if necessary and mix well until it’s smooth.
- Add the roux paste back into the stock in the large pot and stir to combine.
- Add soy sauce and ketchup. Simmer uncovered on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the curry becomes thick.
- Serve the curry with Japanese rice on the side and garnish with soft boiled egg and Fukujinzuke.