Curry traveled to Japan from India through the English trade during the Meiji era (1868 to 1912). In the beginning, the Japanese regarded curry as a Western dish. Today, Japanese curry exists side-by-side with Indian curry as it has become extremely popular in Japan. It is rare not to see curry on a Japanese menu and curry houses that specialize in serving this dish are abundant in Japan.
Although they are both called curry, there are marked differences between Japanese and Indian curries. While both are great, the Japanese curry tends to be milder and more delicate. Also, the reputedly workaholic Japanese who like their high-speed bullet trains, have re-engineered the labor-intensive Indian method, to a simple 30 to 40-minute process. That makes it ideal for busy moms and dads. The magic is the Japanese curry sauce mix (what is it?). On top of that, as it requires only fast cooking, Japanese style curry generally preserves much of the freshness of the ingredients which means it also retains most of the nutrients.
Curry screams for rice, so put on a pot of rice when making this dish. Jasmine rice (what is it?) mixed with brown rice goes particularly well with the many delicate layers of flavor in this curry. Also in Japan, people like to pair up their curry with traditional pickles like pickle chopped vegetables (listed below). I am excited to share this iconic recipe with you.
This recipe serves 4
- 2 cup brown/white mixed rice, cooked separately in a rice cooker
- 9 oz konyaku, also known as Japanese yam cake (what is it?), 1 package, boiled in water for 5 minutes, cut into bite sizes
- 2 Tbsp canola oil
- 1 clove garlic, gently crushed
- 4 oz sliced lean beef, or pork, cut into bite sizes
- 1⁄2 lb turnip, cut into 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 inch bite size pieces
- 1⁄2 lb daikon radish (what is it?), cut into 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 inch bite size pieces
- 1⁄2 lb carrot, cut into 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 inch bite size pieces
- 1⁄2 lb king oyster mushroom (what is it?), cut in thick pieces of about 1 1⁄2 inch long and 1⁄4 inch thick
- 1⁄2 lb white button mushroom, brushed and cut each mushroom in half
- 10 oz fried tofu, or marinated tofu, cut into bite sizes
- 8.4 oz (240 gm) Japanese curry sauce mix, 1 box, chopped into fine pieces
- 1 bunch green onion, cut into 1 to 1 1⁄2 inch in length
- 6 cup dashi, Japanese soup stock, I used instant powder, 3 tbsp to 6 cups of water
- 2 Tbsp mirin, (what is it?) sweet rice wine
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- Fukujinzuke, (what is it?) pickled chopped vegetables (optional)
Heat canola oil in a pot, in my case, I used a wok. Brown garlic until fragrant. Add beef to brown. Then add root vegetables, turnip, daikon, carrot. Pour dashi into the wok. Bring dashi to a boil then cover and simmer the vegetables for 5 to 7 minutes. Test the vegetables for done-ness by trying to pierce them with a toothpick all the way through. Next, add the king oyster mushroom, white button mushrooms and tofu, then cover and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle chopped curry sauce mix pieces into the vegetables and let dissolve. As the content thickens, add green onion, mirin and soy sauce. Give the curry a few slow stirs and voila, it’s done!
To enjoy, simply serve the curry over rice, add some pickles and m’m m’m, you got yourself a heavenly plate of Japanese curry rice with winter vegetables.
To prepare for your next day’s lunch, undercook the curry by 2 to 3 minutes, withhold the cut green onion until it is time to re-heat. Also, you can try other winter vegetables in your area such as cauliflower, parsnips or rutabagas.
Lunch on.Pin It