My house is redolent with the scent of Japanese curry. It has been so for days: I prepared Hiroko Shimbo’s recipe for
karei raisu from scratch, and it’s a long-cooking stew made with fresh ingredients that make your mouth water long before dinner-time. It thickens by reduction rather than addition of flour or starch to the liquid so the flavors are blended, complex, and intense. But even with a very nice ventilating fan, the odor is durable.
Instant curry roux was first sold in powder form by House Foods in 1926, and in block form by S&B Foods in 1956. Amongst the most common brands sold in the United States are Vermont Curry, made by House Foods Corporation, and Golden Curry, made by S&B Foods Inc.
Based on the amount of packaged ‘curry roux’ sold, karei raisu is Japan’s unofficial national dish; many home cooks prepare it every week! Instant curry roux is available in block and powder form, and contains curry powder, flour, oils and various spices. All one needs to do is prepare a few vegetables, some protein (meat, seafood, or tofu), cook and add the roux to have a tasty hot meal even on a weekday evening.
Aya Tanaka of Serious Eats,
did a blind taste comparison of the five easily found brands of curry roux found in the U.S.: S&B’s Golden Curry and Torokeru (Tasty) Curry, and House’s Vermont Curry, Java Curry, and Kokumaro Curry. They are all available in mild, medium hot, and hot versions. She describes the subtleties of what makes a well-balanced sweet-spicy Japanese curry.
Here are some descriptions of unusual versions of Japanese curries:
— beef chunks with broccoli, red and yellow peppers, pearl onions and mushrooms
— chicken livers, baby bok choy, broccoli, onions, garlic, ginger and in addition to the boxed curry roux, star anise, cloves, oyster sauce, tenmenjian, and tobanjian.
— squid, shrimp, scallops, clams, onions, garlic, red peppers, and white wine.
— tofu, onions, shimeji mushrooms, eggplant , garlic and ginger then garnished with shiso.
Natto and ground beef curry
— no explanation needed.
— kabocha, pork tenderloin, onions, red and green peppers, coconut milk, nampla and basil.Then there are the seasonal currries
using the veggies that are in season.
— Soramame (like fava beans?), asparagus, peas
–tomato, kabocha, eggplant, okra
— satoimo, sweet potato, mushrooms
— lotus root, turnips, burdock root, broccoli, cauliflower
from a comment on the Egullet Forum
As for what to serve with Japanese curry:
Fukujinzuke (福神漬?) is one of the most popular kinds of pickles in Japanese cuisine, commonly used as a relish for Japanese curry. In fukujinzuke, vegetables including daikon, eggplant, lotus root and cucumber are finely chopped, then pickled in a base that is flavored with soy sauce. The end result has a crunchy texture.Rakkyo (pickled shallots) is also popular along with fukujinzuke. Other examples of relishes include raisins, cheese, fried onions, roasted sliced almonds and coconuts.
Japanese Curry with Rice
Tori no Karei Raisu
from: The Japanese Kitchen
•250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit•
by Hiroko Shimbo
serves 4 to 6
- 5 TBS butter (3 for the vegetables, 2 for the chicken)
- 2 medium onions, minced (I used a grater)
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger (micro-plane grater)
- 3 cloves garlic (micro-plane grater)
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
In a large heavy pot, cook the aromatics over low heat until tender, about 25 minutes. Brown the chicken lightly.
- 3 TBS S&B dry curry powder
Heat the spice in a small dry pan until fragrant (30 seconds) then add it to the onion mixture. Stir.
- 1 medium carrot, grated (I used 2 small red carrots)
- 1 apple, grated
- 1 mango, grated or chopped fine
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 2 TBS mango chutney
- 5 cups chicken stock
Add the above ingredients to the chicken pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to very low.
- 2 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ Tablespoon toban jiang
Add the seasonings, stir, and cook uncovered for 3 hours. Stir about every ½ hour to prevent burning and sticking. As the sauce reduces, be sure to scrape the delicious browning bits from the sides of the pot—de-glaze with a bit of chicken broth or water. This is where the great caramelized flavor of Ms. Shimbo’s recipe comes from!
- 3 Tablespoons brandy
- plain white rice
- mango chutney
Ms. Shimbo directs the cook to add 3 Tablespoons brandy to the skillet and light a flame to burn off the alcohol. Serve the curry with plain white rice and mango chutney.
The main spice flavors in Japanese curry are turmeric, coriander, and cumin. The hot spices are black pepper and cayenne. I think there is a hint of cinnamon and fennel.
Other spices might include allspice, anise, bay leaf, cardamom, oregono