If you’ve ever had Japanese curry rice from a take-away sushi store or at a Japanese restaurant, you’ll know how incredibly delicious it is. Japanese curry is much different than curries from other places (like India); it is generally thicker and sweeter, so you must try it to taste the difference!
Japanese curry rice is very easy to make and a very popular dish in Japan. Unlike other curries, Japanese people don’t mix up all sorts of different spices, but use store bought curry roux. Because they are so popular, there are many different varieties of curry roux available in Japan.
In Australia, S&B brand ‘Golden Curry’ sauce mix is readily available in the international isle of major supermarkets for around A$4. But my favourite is House brand ‘Java Curry Medium Hot’. This one is usually sold at Asian supermarkets, instead of the major stores. The other popular curry roux is House’s Vermont Curry. I don’t have photographs to show, but it is a commonly purchased curry roux in Japan. This is the one my mum usually uses and is my children’s favourite because the mild flavour has a delicious sweetness.
There are basically three levels of spiciness no matter which brand you buy: mild, medium hot, and hot. It seems that there is a common colour scheme used among all the brands to differentiate these spice levels. Red packets are usually mild, green packets are medium hot, and blue packets are usually hot. If you look at the back of the packets, a little graph shows how spicy the roux is in colour and number. I prefer medium hot because it has a bit of spicy kick but not too much. However, my children only like mild (I think it is a better option for younger people because it has a sweeter flavour).
Commonly used ingredients for Japanese rice curry are meats such as chicken, beef, pork, or sea food like prawn, as well as potato, onion and carrot. When different ingredients are used, the curry is named after that special ingredient, for example, mushroom curry or summer vegetable curry, etc. As you may already know, if you add anything like Pork panko crumbed cutlets, it is called “Katsu curry” and with Chicken panko crumbed cutlets it is called “Chicken katsu curry”. The curry variations are endless.
Cutting each ingredient is somewhat important. I like cutting the ingredients in big chunks, especially the potatoes. You can taste the curry flavour much more when the potatoes are chunkier because it gets coated more and absorbs the flavour. It’s also better to use waxy or all-rounder type potatoes so that they keep their shape when cooked.
The ultimate Japanese curry rice secret ingredient “kakushi Aji”, which literally translates to “hidden taste”, are Apple and Honey. These are well-known Japanese curry rice ingredients among Japanese people so it’s not much of a secret anymore. Adding grated apple and honey gives the Japanese curry rice the signature sweeter flavour and is a staple for any Japanese mother’s home-cooked curry.
One last Japanese curry rice secret is pouring over worcestershire sauce and condiments like “Fukushinduke” and “Rakkyo”! Generally, I don’t like worcestershire sauce. I prefer soy sauce. I usually use soy sauce to flavour anything, even fish and chips. But only for two dishes I use worcestershire sauce: Japanese curry rice and Yakisoba. Somehow worcestershire sauce enriches the Japanese curry rice flavour along with the hidden taste of apple and honey. Once you try it, you can never have Japanese curry rice without worcestershire sauce.
If you’ve never tasted Japanese curry, then you’re in for a treat. It is very different to other curries, such as Indian, as it is a much sweeter and milder taste. It also does not use as much spices and is generally a thicker consistency. Japanese curry rice is in the top 3 favourite dishes of Japanese children. But I know it’s not only Japanese children who love it. All of my children’s friends loved eating it whenever they came over to our house, especially one of my son’s friends. Every time he came over he would request to have it for lunch, so I would always make a large batch and he would take home the leftovers. Although I haven’t seen him for many years now I’m sure he is lining up for the curry at all the Japanese take-away stores that have opened up around Brisbane.
The flavour of the Japanese curry is also quite versatile and does not always have to be served with rice. In Japan, some common adaptations of the curry are: “Karee Udon“, udon noodles in a curry flavoured broth; “Karee chahan“, curry flavoured fried rice; and “Karee pan“, which is a thicker curry sauce inside a deep-fried bun, this one is a little evil for the body but it is one of my daughter’s favourite Japanese foods.
Here is easy Japanese curry rice mini movie and did you like the Japanese pottery bowl that I made?
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- 3 cups uncooked rice Follow the instructions on your rice cooker. *1
- 1 packet 100g Japanese curry sauce mix Use any brand you like.
- 250 g your preferred meat I used Beef for the post *2
- 1 brown onion
- 300 g potato
- 100 g carrot
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- ¼ cup grated apple
- 1 tbsp honey
- Pinch of salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups water approximately 500 ml
- Fukushinduke and/or Rakkyo to accompany condiments *3 optional
- Worcestershire sauce optional
- Cut the meat into bite size pieces and set aside
- Peel and cut the potatoes, carrot, and onion into large bite size pieces and set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat and add garlic
- When the garlic is fragrant, add the beef and cook until browned.
- Add the potato, carrot, and onion and stir with a wooden spatula.
- When the oil has coated evenly on all the ingredients and the outer-edge of the potatoes have become transparent, add the water, honey, and grated apple.
- Bring it to boil and then turn the heat down to low to simmer until the potatoes become soft and all the other ingredients are cooked.
- Turn the heat off, break the curry sauce blocks apart and add to the pot.