My house is redolent with the scent of Japanese curry. It has been so for days: I prepared Hiroko Shimbo’s recipe for karei risu 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.
I kept catching a whiff of curry all morning, and I was afraid that my clothes were perfumed with the scent. I was a bit apprehensive about how strong the smell would be after heating the curry. My co-workers don’t have adventurous tastes, and mild as Japanese curry is, it does smell exotic. L. announced she brought in pumpkin cake for dessert and I realized that I didn’t smell like leftovers; it was the dessert! And no one complained about the stinky lunch. The Japanese spice mix has undertones of cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice!
(or maybe they were too polite to complain?)
Curry on rice is almost a national dish of Japan—many eat it at least once a week. And why not: it’s delicious, easy to make with the widely available instant curry roux, can be made with a variety of ingredients, keeps well (even improves) as leftovers, and is inexpensive. It’s a meal I am fond of.
From The New York Times, 23 October, 2008 “Indian curry came to Japan from England,” explained Hiroko Shimbo, the Japanese chef and cookbook author. “Roux of course came from France.” It was only natural that someone would put them in the same dish, she added, then paused for a moment and laughed. “It’s perfect for Americans,” she said. “It’s a very American impulse to mix.” a recipe from Hiroko Shimbo