Japanese curry

26 Apr

Japanese curry

Making Japanese curry from scratch for the first time was the high point of my week.

I discovered Japanese curry when I lived in Tokyo after finishing uni, and became an instant convert. I love the thick, slightly sweet taste of the sauce, and the way it sticks to the vegetables like a thick coat of paint.

What makes Japanese curry unique is the roux, which is sold in thick bars. I’ve always lived where Asian ingredients are easy to come by, and usually have a packet of Japanese curry in the cupboard.

You fry, then simmer, your veg, meat or tofu to the point of tenderness, dissolve a chunk of roux in the pan and instant curry goodness ensues. Like Doritos or Kraft Dinner, I assumed that the processed nature of Japanese curry was part of its appeal. But having now made it from scratch, I realise that it’s the flour-based sauce. It took about ten minutes to make, cooled into a little brick like the packaged stuff, and dissolved beautifully.

Japanese curry
(serves 4)

  • 4 Tb butter
  • 3 Tb plain flour
  • 1 Tb curry powder
  • 1 Tb garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
  • 1 Tb vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 200g tofu, chicken or beef, cubed
  • 2 cups water
  • salt and pepper
  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a medium-low flame.
  2. Stir in the flour. Cook, stirring steadily, for about ten minutes until the mixture has darkened and smells toasted.
  3. Add the curry powder, garam masala, turmeric and chilli powder and cook for another minute. Remove from the heat and leave to cool and harden.
  4. Peel the onion, carrots, sweet potato and potatoes, and cut into similarly-sized pieces.
  5. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium flame.
  6. If you are using meat, add it first and cook until browned.
  7. Add the onion and cook for five minutes.
  8. Add the carrots, sweet potato, potato, tofu and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  9. Cook until everything is tender, topping up the water if necessary.
  10. Clear a space in the centre of the pan and add the curry roux. Stir to dissolve and integrate throughout the pan.
  11. Serve with steamed rice and red pickled ginger (if you have some).

5 Responses to “Japanese curry”

  1. Margo April 26, 2020 at 3:06 pm #

    I don’t keep a standard curry powder on hand. What do you use? A madras type or what?

    • Andrea April 26, 2020 at 4:14 pm #

      I have a Madras medium-hot that I use for general curry powder. I went with that and then the garam masala to introduce the sweeter element.

      • Margo April 29, 2020 at 11:50 pm #

        Thx Andrea

  2. Angelilie May 23, 2020 at 9:02 pm #

    I really like your blog. A pleasure to come stroll on your pages. A great discovery and a very interesting blog. I will come back to visit you. Do not hesitate to visit my universe. See you soon.

    • Andrea May 26, 2020 at 11:37 am #

      Thank you — I appreciate your lovely comment and will definitely visit your universe. 🙂

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