If you visit Hokkaido, the largest northernmost island of the Japanese archipelago, try a regional specialty: cream stew!
But this yoshoku dish made with chicken, pork, or seafood, and onions, carrots, and potatoes is popular all over Japan. It is sometimes called white stew (白い野菜の白いシチュ) because the sauce is made with milk and the secret ingredient (cream cheese) thickened with a roux. Kurimu shitu
is the Japanized English word for ‘cream stew’ (say each word fast: ku-ri-mu shi-tu).
Most home cooks use Cream Stew Sauce Mix (Kakurega), which contains no meat, vegetables or milk. One 5.6 ounce box contains 2 blocks of roux, each pressed into four portions.
Ingredients listed on the package include palm oil, canola oil, soybean oil, wheat flour, milk powder, starch, lactose, salt, msg, sugar, chinese cabbage powder, whole milk powder, pork bouillon cream cheese, chicken bouillon, fresh cream, artificial and natural flavor, sucrose, fatty acid esters, disodium 5-inosinate, disodium 5-guanylate.That certainly is an intimidatingly long list, including some difficult to find ingredients—not surprising that most people use boxed mixes rather than making the dish from scratch. That must explain why there are so few recipes for White Stew online!
Or is it Fear of Making Roux? Be brave!! Making a roux is neither difficult nor time consuming!
I was curious what cream stew is ‘supposed’ to taste like so I used the mix: fairly bland, would be liked by unadventurous diners in the U.S. and not as salty or gooey as casseroles made with cream of cr-p cans of soup.
After more searching online, I found a book with a good looking recipe:
Let’s Cook Japanese Food!: Everyday Recipes for Home Cooking
By Amy Kaneko
And there is one online recipe that looks very promising for from scratch Kurimu Shitu. I’ll try it soon—sure it will be good.