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Japanese curry

in my search for easy weeknight dishes, I picked up a box of japanese curry. I'm looking for suggestions on favorite way to doctor the sauce. I've heard some people add apples? Thanks!

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  1. I think carrots, potatoes, onions and pork is typical. I like it that way, too. :)

    2 Replies
    1. re: inaplasticcup

      Plastic cup, what cut of pork do you use? Tenderloin is what I would think to use but never made Japanese curry with pork (I always use chicken).

      Also has anyone ever noticed that the sauce made from the packaged Japanese curry blocks gets a little too thick?

      Carrots, potatoes and onions in Japanese curry is my absolute favourite!!

      1. re: ladooShoppe

        I usually use shoulder. But I just generally like shoulder for just about anything. Nice balance of meat and fat, lots of flavor. :)

    2. To build on what inaplasticcup said, carrots, onions, potatoes, and ANY kind of meat is good. Apples, not so much (IMO). And some people top it with a bit of pickled ginger and shoyuzuke, too (soy sauce-flavored pickled vegetables).

      1. A lot of people I know add raisins and I am not fond of raisins at all so I started adding Craisins and that gives it a nice tartness.

        1. I love Japanese curry. It was the first kind of curry I ever had, and for years I tried to recreate it from scratch, because I didn't realize my ex's mom used S&B Golden Curry mix.

          My favorite way is to use fresh vegetables from our garden. I sauté a bit of onion, then add a little minced ginger, for vegetables, it's usually zucchini, carrot, potato, cauliflower, and then I add a can of coconut milk, and stir in the curry mix. Serve over rice. If you do meat, chicken or pork is really yummy.

          1. Here's another posting on how to get the best out of boxed curry. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/285165
            I think Eric Eto's suggestion about having lots of deeply caramelized onion is key to enhancing boxed or made from scratch Japanese curry.

            1. I add tons of stuff...either chicken or shrimp, onions, any combination of carrots,potatoes, sweet potatoes, shiitake mushrooms (dried), extra hot pepper (including my jolokia's, which will be in the curry for only a few minutes...otherwise its inedibly hot), cilantro, parsnip, turnip, butternut squash...I don't usually add fruit because many of the mixes have fruit already (Vermont curry), but mango is sometimes nice at the end.

              1. When I lived in Japan my Japanese host mothers used two different brands of curry, half and half. I also like adding fresh garlic.

                12 Replies
                1. re: MichaelBeyer

                  I hate to inject even an atom of negativity into this lovely discussion, but, being born in Calcutta and living there till the age of ten, I was astonished at the age of 33 when I moved to Japan for what would be five years.

                  Of course I leaped on the curry -- I leap on any version of curry (except that awful dreck called British curry -- NOT the excellent London curry made by Bangladeshi ex-pats, mind you, but that horrible blandly sweet stew that contained sultanas etc.) but my first taste of Japanese curry astonished me. It was definitely of a curry sort, but broken down, patina-ized (is that a word?) and as bland as a slab of unsalted butter.

                  The Japanese rice had a lot to do with it -- it seemed totally out of place. But it wasn't unlikeable.It just wasn't curry as I knew it.

                  I actually went to an Indian restaurant in Osaka run by an Indian fried . . . but he had long since learned to Japanify the curry to something that was barely identifiable as curry to my tastes . . . just a stewish-type dish with turmeric and curry powder. He apologised profusely, and I definitely forgave him. Plus, there was the rice -- at the time NO IMPORTED RICE was allowed in Japan -- not a shred of long-grain, arborio, no NOTHING was available. And to me, the rice is 50% of a good curry (I'm from the North-East, not from the south, who prefer naan and chapatis).

                  But please don't take this as a criticism of Japanese rice. It was definitely not unpleasant, and with the rice/cube curry combo, it becomes a totally different animal: kare-raisu.

                  I've had Chinese AND Korean curries and they're completely different.

                  Incidentally, I suggest all of you pick up a book called Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors," which describes the story of curry in all its amazing incarnations. All thet being said, yes, I would gladly sit down to a meal of kare-raisu and a nice ice-cold nama-zake.

                  1. re: tonbo0422

                    As a Korean person who's never heard of Korean curry, I'm really curious. What's in it?

                    1. re: inaplasticcup

                      As an American who's had Korean curry, allow me to enlighten you. Perhaps you should should do more research into your "Korean-ness" rather than snarking plaintively in public forums.


                      1. re: tonbo0422

                        Wow. Thanks for that link. In exchange, would you care for a chill pill - the kind that helps you not to read snark where there is none intended?

                        P.S. That's Japanese curry.

                        1. re: inaplasticcup

                          I love it... from the link tonbo referenced: "KaReRaISeu".

                          Japanese got their curry from the European - specifically, French, influence, especially the cooked roux, not from the Indian. It is a long standing tradition, along with so many other Yoshoku (Western food) dishes, including Hayashi and even Tempura. Thinking of this dish in terms of Indian curry totally misses the point, just as comparing the Japanese fixation with their rice to non-Japonica rices makes little sense.

                          It's not just the comparison of an origin or a source to a many-generations removed development, it's that the development has had time to build its own set of complex traditions - from Hokkaido to Tokyo - different styles, ingredients.

                          I've never heard of Korean Curry - perhaps its a new or specific development of Japanese Curry, although I don't see anything special on this link. Curry in Japan is always eaten with side dishes - tsukemono (beni shoga, rakyozuke, takuwan). I guess if you use kimchi and call it banchan, it's Korean! (I eat kimchi with curry all the time!)

                          1. re: applehome

                            I love that kimchi/J-curry combo too. :)

                            1. re: applehome

                              "Japanese got their curry from the European - specifically, French, influence, especially the cooked roux, not from the Indian."
                              Not sure why you state that the influence for Japanese curry was specifically French.
                              This is completely at odds with my understanding of the origins of this dish as well as with how the Japanese language wiki page documents its origins.
                              Japanese Curry comes from English influences. The Roux was introduced in 1949 by the "House" brand and took off from there, the roux format became pretty much the standard in the 1960s. I'm not aware of any commercially made foods from France with a similar cooked roux tablet.

                              As someone who was introduced to British curries (and who hated them immediately) in the 1970s I can confirm that modern Japanese curries are little different. I will acknowledge that an S&B curry is a huge improvement on the UK Vesta equivalent but they're still distasteful.
                              My husband loves Japanese curry, thankfully he doesn't make it too often. Even the smell of it turns my stomach and brings back some rather ugly childhood memories - the kind stained with vile brown sludge spotted with diced carrots, tinned peas and sultanas... urgh!
                              It is definitely, definitely British influenced.

                              1. re: MoGa

                                The consumer home roux "tablets" started in the late 1940's but that was after earlier introduction during the open port years. Beef curry was actually a staple food of the Japanese navy for much of the Meiji Era (1868~1912ish).

                                I was the OP in the above linked CH thread five years ago and can attest to caramelized onion as an excellent tweak to the commercial blocks- which usually come in sweet (甘口), mild (中口), or spicy (辛口) variations. We usually use spicy, which by American standards, is not all that spicy. On top of caramlized onion in the base, I used to toss in whole little "pecoros" onions as an ingredient. "Pecoros" are what they are called in the supermarkets in Japan, but I'm not sure what they are called here in the States. They are larger than vidalia. I've seen them at green markets here. Toss them in later in the stewing so they cook but don't break down too much.

                          2. re: tonbo0422

                            I grew up in Korea eating Korean and Japanese curry. Korean curry is just Koreans copying Japanese curry. It's pretty much identical.

                            Like applehome said, comparing Japanese curry to the Indian counterpart sort of misses the point. I love good Indian curry, but I also enjoy J curry with the sticky rice and tsukemono.

                            Not sure why you felt the need to join a thread about enhancing curry and add a rant about how you dislike it.

                        2. re: tonbo0422

                          I love Indian curries. And I love Japanese curry. ( Lived in Japan for a year).

                          I just look at them as two completely different things.

                          1. re: Jennalynn

                            Same here. Wherever you have an expatriate Indian community, you're going to have a regional curry variation. Pakistani curry is different from South African curry is different from London curry. Then you have ALL the different curries in Singapore.

                            I like mixing Mild and Hot Japanese curry roux and using a rich stock. Not big on sweetness, so I don't do apples.

                          2. re: tonbo0422

                            My first reaction to Japanese curry as a high school student was that it was unpalatable. However, I grew to love it while living in Japan. I now consider it comfort food, as do Japanese families. Living in Japan gave me the opportunity to sample curries from India, Pakistan, Vietnam, and Thailand too. I love them all, but I will say my favorite is Indian curry. I also learned to appreciate the many different types of rice too. While I would never serve an Indian curry with Japanese rice, I would never pair a Japanese curry with basmati rice either.

                        3. major refrig mag. what ever is in there, I throw in.

                          Made it this week and had it for lunch. Lamb, potato, carrot, celery, whole cloves of garlic (this was great, soft and sweet when cooked), zukes and peppers.


                          1. Japanese curry should be a little sweet. The apples can add that sweetness. I prefer mango, which also thickens up the sauce nicely. Either way, the sauce will need to be blended if you want it smooth. My stick blender does the job well. Just make sure you blend it before adding any meat.

                            1. The following makes the biggest difference in making Jap curry for me:

                              Add some stock.
                              Caramelize a ton of onions.
                              Add some grated fruit.

                              Serve with tsukemono or Kimchi.