Japanese curry rice (karē raisu or カレーライス) is the quintessential comfort food in Japan. Whether served as kyushoku (school lunch), enjoyed in a restaurant, or prepared at home, this dish is a favorite amongst children and adults alike. In fact, many Japanese people eat curry rice at least once a week!
Curry was brought to Japan by the British from India during the Meiji Restoration (1868–1912). Popularized as an inexpensive way to feed hungry soldiers, Japanese curry is filling and easy to make in large quantities. Compared to traditional Indian curry, it is thicker and milder.
The most basic rendition of Japanese curry includes onions, potatoes, and carrots. However, Japanese curry is highly versatile and pairs well with a wide variety of meats, seafood, and vegetables. As a result, many specialty versions highlighting local ingredients and seasonal produce can be found throughout Japan. Some examples include soup curry from Sapporo, black pork curry from Kagoshima, and bitter melon curry from Okinawa. In addition to being paired with rice, Japanese curry is also commonly served atop udon and soba, or inside bread as a filling.
For this recipe, we use roux that is sweetened with apples from Aomori Prefecture, a region famous for its apples. However, any variety of packaged roux will work. Simply adjust the amount of cooking water according to package instructions.
For a bit of color and spice, top your curry rice with a side of bright-red pickled ginger and shichimi togarashi (Japanese chili flakes). Otherwise, simply serve with steamed rice for a hearty and comforting home-cooked meal.
- 200g of meat (chicken, beef or pork)
- 2 onions
- 1 potato
- 2 carrots
- 1 tbsp of cooking oil
- 600-800ml of water
- 1 package of Japanese Curry Roux Featuring Apples from Aomori Prefecture
- 6 servings of cooked rice
- Cut the meat, potato, onions, and carrots into big, 1-2 inch chunks.
- Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pot. Cook the onions first then add the meat.
- Once the meat is cooked, add the potato and carrots. Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add 600-800ml of water depending on the desired thickness of the curry sauce (less water will result in a thicker sauce).
- Simmer gently until the vegetables are tender.
- Remove from heat and add the package of curry roux. Stir to dissolve.
- Cook over low heat for 5-10 minutes. Serve hot on top of rice.
Introduction courtesy of Britney Budiman
Britney Budiman (@booritney) is a writer, minimalist, aspiring effective altruist, and runner-in-progress with a penchant for saying “yes.” Previously, she has worked in Cambodia at a traditional arts NGO, in Brazil as a social sciences researcher, and in San Francisco at a housing start-up. She currently lives in the countryside of Kagoshima, Japan, where she teaches English. Her favorite thing in the world is good conversation.