Photo: Pakutaso
food

Pork or beef? A peek into how Japan’s curry preferences change from place to place

8 Comments
By Katy Kelly, SoraNews24

Any country of a certain size will find that its cultures will shift perceptibly the further you go in a certain direction, which is why the north and south sections of countries like the United States are often regarded separately. The same, of course, is true of Japan—eastern prefectures like Ibaraki and Tokyo feel different in many ways to ones from the west like Tottori or Osaka.

One surprising difference: the meat that’s considered the “staple” meat for a curry. When you suggest making curry, the staple curry is a given and thus won’t be named, whereas more novel meat will be named—think of it like “burger” versus “turkey burger”. In eastern prefectures like Tokyo “curry” tends to mean pork curry, whereas in western ones like Osaka it’s more likely to mean beef.

Screen-Shot-2021-07-.png

A survey was actually conducted 10 years ago in the capital city of each prefecture to try to get to the bottom of this curry conundrum. Is there a specific cut-off point for where people think curry is typically made with pork? The results were fascinating, with Kyoto, Shiga, and Mie each declaring that beef was indispensable in a curry dish. Meanwhile, if you trek just a little bit towards the east to Nagoya the responses start leaning towards the porcine. Unlike some of the pork purists in further eastern prefectures, here cooks will cop to using beef if they don’t have pork available.

So how come Nagoya uses pork while Mie, which is less than 40 miles away as the crow flies, uses beef? The answer might be found in how three rivers lie between the two prefectures, which impacts what livestock are kept. Surveyors tried quizzing residents of different cities in Mie prefecture that lay at different points in the river. Kuwana City on the west side was 63 percent in favor of beef curry. Kisosaki City, on the east, was 60 percent in favor of pigs. Oho!

Here is where the survey team chose to zero in on Kuwana City. The city expanded to include two towns, Nagashima and Tado, in 2004. Nagashima, in particular, gave very ambiguous answers to the curry question. Suspecting that this might be where the border of pork and beef lay, the surveyor team went in person to invite the locals to cook curry at the community center on a certain date. On that date, they tallied up what meat was used in each of the 51 household’s curry and found…

25 pork curries and 26 beef curries! An almost perfect split!

The survey had a great local effect, too. A local food company, Yamamori, developed a special Kuwana City Curry for sale that incorporates both pork and beef. Now the division between common curries is a point of pride for the city.

Screen-Shot-2021-07-.png

There are other ways in which eastern and western prefectural staples blend within this specific area. Slang like aho and tawake are both used in Kuwana City, with the former being Kansai slang for a foolish person and the latter being Nagoya slang. And Kuwana City is cool even beyond its curry border status; there is a cursed katana on display at their city’s museum, and also the world’s easiest-to-bypass ticket gate at its train station.

Source: Livedoor News/Telebi Dogatchi

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japan’s biggest curry chain now offers a true vegetarian curry

-- Kansai and Kanto prove again that they are each distinct regions when it comes to food

-- The U.K. thinks Japanese curry is katsu curry, and people aren’t happy about it

© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

8 Comments
Login to comment

So how come Nagoya uses pork while Mie, which is less than 40 miles away as the crow flies, uses beef? The answer might be found in how three rivers lie between the two prefectures, which impacts what livestock are kept. Surveyors tried quizzing residents of different cities in Mie prefecture that lay at different points in the river. Kuwana City on the west side was 63 percent in favor of beef curry. Kisosaki City, on the east, was 60 percent in favor of pigs. Oho!

Because Mie is the Capital of Japanese Beef. In addition to Matsuzaka Beef there is also Iga Beef. Mie is Beef central.

LOVE Mie. Always wanted to live there

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Whenever I traveled to Japan I ended up having sushi, sashimi or Italian food. Since I do not eat either pork or beef, I never tried Japanese curry.

But since I eat curry regularly, I would like to try out Japanese curry next time I come. Just to see how different a dish can become once it leaves its place of origin and ends up becoming popular in another part of the world.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This is hardly surprising. In Kansai, niku means beef, so a steamed Chinese bun with pork is a "butaman", the popular 551 ones included. The same thing in Kanto, where niku means pork, is a "nikuman".

In Kanto, it can be hard to find 100% beef mince in the supermarket. All mince has pork mixed in.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

In Kanto you can’t find ground beef???

It all has pork in it? Kay Im from Osaka, but how can that be true?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In Kansai, you can buy 100% ground beef. Always buy several packets when I see them. We don't like Japanese curry prefer Indian and Thai. Ground beef for meatballs and meatloaf, and pasta dishes.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

In Kanto ground beef is easy to find, but packages are smaller and cost more than mixed pork and beef or all pork.

Why would you want to use any ground meat in curries? Solid pieces of long-cooked braised meat if the bomb. Makes for wonderful curries. Plus you should be making curries with all real ingredients and not packaged bars of paste.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am surprised that chicken was never mentioned as a choice. When I lived in Tokyo back in the 1960s its use was practically all inclusive as a curry ingredient in homes and restaurants alike. I suppose preferences change over time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japanese curry is the worst tasting curry in the world

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites