Ever wondered how to make Japanese style curry rice from scratch? Well look no further! Curry Rice is a staple in Japanese homes. It's warm, comforting and not too spicy, it's loved by children and adults alike! It's easy to make Japanese style curry rice using boxed roux cubes, but why not try making it from scratch with this delicious recipe?
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A Brief History of Japanese Curry
Japanese curry rice has an interesting history.
As everyone probably knows, curry originated from India, the land of spice. It then traveled to U.K and then made its way from the U.K to Japan!
Food history is always fascinating isn't it?
Japanese Curry Rice (カレーライス) is a lot less spicy than its Indian counterparts, it's also quite sweet and thick like gravy or stew. It's safe to say that curry and rice is now one of the most popular dishes in Japan. It is eaten and enjoyed at home, restaurants, diners and takeaways.
Although we usually use pre-made curry cubes (even lots of diners and restaurants do too), I'm going to introduce how to make Japanese curry and rice from scratch without using pre-made curry roux. (If you want tips on how to use boxed curry roux, check out my other post here. It includes lots of secret ingredients!)
I realised that pre-made Japanese curry cubes are not so accessible in local supermarkets in some countries or they can be expensive, so I thought this is a useful recipe to share!
What to put in a Japanese Curry
Japanese curry and rice usually uses:
- Meat (Beef, Pork, Chicken or Seafood)
Beef, Pork, Chicken and Seafood curries are equally popular I'd say.
Even though today's recipe uses beef, you can always replace it with any meat you'd like. If you want to make it vegetarian you can omit the meat and make substitutions such as using coconut oil instead of beef fat etc. I'll be working on a vegetarian summer curry in the near future!
This recipe makes about 4-5 portions and I always recommend to make a big batch so that you can store the leftovers in your freezer for some other time! You can use leftovers to make things like curry pan (bread filled with curry) or katsu curry.
Whether making curry from scratch or using the roux cubes, most Japanese people add unusual ingredients to their curry to add depth of flavour. This way everyone can have their own secret ingredient that makes their curry different to everyone else.
We'll be using some of these ingredients, but here's a few extra if you want to experiment.
- Apple (Jam, juice, sauce! Some people use grated apple but make sure to peel the skin first, otherwise it can become grainy.)
- Coffee (Adds depth and a touch of bitterness)
- Cocoa / Chocolate powder (Softens spice and adds complexity)
- Worcestershire Sauce (Adds a touch of sourness)
- Miso paste (Adds umami, make sure to add it at the end after turning off the heat so it doesn't lose flavour)
- Wine (Compliments the meat and gives it a gravy like taste)
- Chocolate (Adds a touch of sweetness and smooths out the spiciness)
There are even some crazy ones like Calpis (a strange milky soda you can buy in Japan) and matcha powder! The possibilities are endless.
Day 2 Curry is better? (Myth?)
What is that all about?
What every Japanese family knows about curry is, second day curry is the best curry! Meaning Japanese curry tastes better next day than on the day of cooking.
As a Japanese person, I personally think that is true. That's why I recommend to refrigerate the homemade roux overnight too.
Well, I did a bit of research and found a scientific reason for why curry always tastes better the next day.
Why is it better?
Over night, the ingredients (vegetables and meat) in curry start to give out "umami" (Glutamic acid)" as well as fructose, starch, fibre...etc
So it generally builds up depth of flavour and thickness over night. It also becomes richer and more complex. So, that's why it's better to eat it the next day if you can wait! Or eat it twice in two days and compare the difference...
Check out our video for How to make Japanese curry from scratch at home
Making Japanese curry from scratch takes some time and commitment (which is why so many people just use the roux) but it's so worth it and you can really make it your own! If you want to know how to make the ultimate Japanese Curry Rice using roux cubes, check out my post here. There's lots of secret tips and ingredients to help you make your curry the best it can be!
You can also level up this dish by making it into a Katsu Curry! See my post on how to make crispy and delicious pork cutlet to place on top! You won't regret it!Print
Frequently Asked Questions
Compared to Indian curry, I would say Japanese curry is less spicy but thicker and sweeter. It's a well loved dish by children and adults in Japan!
The best way to thicken curry is to cook it for longer, it intensifies the flavour too.
he curry roux already contains flour so I don't recommend adding thickening agents such as corn starch here... unfortunately patience is key with curry!
In general Japanese curry is not spicy. Most Japanese people aren't so good with spicy food, but that isn't to say that spicy Japanese curry doesn't exist!
There are three main types of Japanese curry:
• Sweet - Suitable for kids and kinda like stew with some curry flavour
• Medium - Mildly spicy, a good middle ground
• Hot - Quite hot but still not as spicy as curry from countries like India or Thailand.
It's either カレーライス (Curry rice) or just カレー (Curry).
Whether you're using premade box curry roux or making your own homemade roux, you can always improve your curry by using secret ingredients. I've listed quite a few in this recipe, and you can always check out my secret tips for improving curry roux on this post here.