Japan Today
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Curry is king

By Gina Colburn Goto

Believe it or not, curry is one of the most popular home-cooked dishes in Japan. The most common way of serving it is over rice, with pickles called "fukujinzuke" and "rakkyo," but you can find curry with udon or in pastry. Japanese people hold a special place in their heart for curry. Though it may seem odd, curry is definitely comfort food for many people here.

Curry was introduced to Japan in the late 1800s, during the Meiji Era, by the British at a time when India was under their administration. The Imperial Japanese Navy adopted curry from the Royal Navy that served stews mixed with curry powder. To this day, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force serves curry on Fridays. The dish became popular and available for purchase in supermarkets and restaurants in the late 1960s when instant roux in a block form was introduced by S&B Foods. It contains curry powder, flour, oils, various spices and flavorings. Because of the easiness in preparation compared to other Japanese dishes, curry with rice became very popular. Curry roux box sales nowadays surpass 80 billion yen a year.

The basic way to make curry at home is using onions, carrots and potatoes with meat which can be beef, pork or chicken. Adding potatoes to curry sauce was introduced by William Clark of the Agricultural College since there was a rice shortage. It has become a must-have ingredient when making curry. Every family has their favorite brand of instant curry roux. They usually come in three levels of spiciness. There is even curry roux for babies that contain less spice. It is so widely consumed that it can be called a national dish. These mixes or boxed curry roux can easily be found in Japanese or Asian food stores outside of Japan. Just follow the instruction on the box and you will not go wrong.

Although the basic recipe calls for onions, carrots and potatoes with some sort of meat, for those who have tried making this before, how about trying other ingredients to spice things up a bit? I usually like to add seasonal veggies such as sweet potatoes, sautéed eggplants, or a big bag of spinach. As for protein, using prawns, sautéing them in butter and white wine first, makes curry extra fancy.

The other day, I was craving curry, but not the typical kind. I wanted to have curry-udon style curry over rice. Kind of picky, I know. Curry for udon usually contains “dashi” which is broth made with sea kelp and bonito flakes. This makes your curry taste more Japanese. Instead of the usual onion, carrot and potato combo, I kept it simple with thinly sliced onions and fresh shiitake mushrooms. For the meat, I chose a nice lean pork cutlet which I chopped up into bite size pieces. The result? Superb! I wanted to share my version.

Extra-Japanese flavored Japanese Curry

Ingredients • 1 packet Japanese curry roux • water • 100 -200 grams pork cut into cubes • 1/2 thinly sliced white onion • 6 sliced shiitake mushrooms • One package of "dashi" or 2 tablespoon of "dashi" powder • 1 tablespoon butter • 1 tablespoon cooking oil


  1. Sauté sliced onion with oil in a saucepan. Caramelize.
  2. Add pork and brown.
  3. Add water according to the package instruction.
  4. While simmering, add “dashi”.
  5. Add curry roux.
  6. In a small frying pan, sauté shiitake in butter then add to the curry.
  7. Let the sauce simmer until it thickens. Serve over freshly cooked white rice.
  • You can dilute this sauce with a little water, and serve with udon noodles as well.
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I make it without sautéing the veggies and meat, less fat. It tastes wonderful but it's not curry. It's British curry adapted to japanese taste. I really prefer Indian curries.

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Curry a dish for everyone I guess. I put in thinly sliced celery, apple, garlic, bananas and, tomato from the tin. For meat I use pork ribs. Saute the veggies and meat then stew it with some red wine in a pressure cooker and add the roux AFTER releasing pressure. Add some milk with the roux and heat and stir on a slow fire.

bon appétit

I heard the Americans are no catching on with Japanese style curry with CoCo Ichiban and GoGo Curry opening shops in NY.

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Bananas in curry?!!

I bet you're one of those monsters that puts oranges in salad and pineapple on pizza....

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It should be noted that during the late 1980's, real Indian-style curry started to become popular in Japan. You can find restaurants that service Indian-style curry in the Kanto (Tokyo metro) and Keihanshin (Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe) regions rather easily nowadays.

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Curry is all about Taste, Aroma, Feelings, Satisfaction and your Stomach. In Japan Stomach is very important and hence all Indian Restaurant take care of it and customizing the Curry according to Japanese Stomach and relaxing on Taste and Aroma. I have been in Tokyo for last 10 years and didn't find real taste of Indian Curry. While there are more than 1000 authenticated curries available in India I hardly find more than 4 in Japan.

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I love Japanese Kare Raisu. Here in Los Angeles we have huge populations from India and Pakistan and now Afghanistan, so authentic curries are very available, both vegetarian and also with meat. Kare Raisu is something I consider a completely different dish from curries from the Indian Subcontinent. The same goes for the curries from Thailand...very different. They may all have the same name but they are very different. I love them all, though.

As a native Angeleno my taste is for spicy food. When I make Kare Raisu at home I start with S&B Golden Curry Extra Hot, and add a bit of garlic. It's the first Japanese curry roux that is spicy enough for my tastes without having to doctor it up. I either use chicken as my base or go completely veggie, and I tend to put lots more veggies in mine than is the Japanese taste. In fact, I figured out something awesome with my last batch: add Kabocha puree to the sauce, and you add sweetness and substance to it. For someone who's a veggie conscientious objector, the Kabocha puree sort of melts into the sauce and is not perceptible as a separate ingredient.

As far as Japanese Kare Raisu in restaurants here, we have had Curry House for at least two decades, and there's Hurry Curry in the Sawtelle District. However, I can't think of any Japanese restaurant, unless it's a sushi restaurant primarily, that doesn't do Kare Raisu. It's part of the landscape here in LA.

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Hello^^ My name is Riko. and I'm Japanese. In Japan, Curry is the most popular especially during children. Because it is easy for mothers to cook. So we eat it often as dinner. And sometime, we cook Curry Rice in our homemaking class that is usually in elementary school. I also did. It is very good experience for little children because they can eat Curry Rice which they cooked by themselves. When I was in Australia, I often cooked Curry Rice for my house owner and he really liked it. I think Japanese Curry Rice is made people who live in around the world satisfied^^

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