I've been making curry with roux for longer than I can even remember and this post is pretty much my life's research. I wanna share some tips on how to make the ULTIMATE Japanese style curry using roux. Bring your homemade curry to restaurant level with these tips!
Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon and Dokodemo affiliate links to help our readers find the products used by us. Sudachi Recipes earn a small percentage from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. See disclaimer for more info.
- What is Japanese Curry Rice (kare raisu)?
- Choosing the right Japanese curry roux
- Protein/meat options
- 3 popular vegetable variations
- Water substitutions to maximize flavour
- Type of rice to serve with Japanese curry
- 7 Topping variations
- Secret tips for making Japanese curry (Surprise Ingredients)
- Storing and reheating
- Watch my video "How to make Japanese Curry with Roux cubes"
- Printable recipe
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Community feedback
What is Japanese Curry Rice (kare raisu)?
It’s safe to say that Japanese curry rice or "kare raisu" (カレーライス) is one of the most popular dishes in Japan. It is eaten and enjoyed at home, in restaurants, diners and takeaways. I must say, Japanese curry rice is a true comfort dish for me!
It's pretty easy to make too, especially if you have the premade roux in a box. In fact, Japanese curry roux is so tasty, you can't really fail... but why stop at tasty? Why not make it the best it can be? I'll be sharing secret tips and ingredients to help you make the best curry you've ever made!
In this post, I will explain everything you need to know to get started with Japanese style curry. I'll admit that the post is very long, but I made it so that you can keep coming back and check whatever you need to know whenever you're making Japanese curry (I appreciate if you bookmark this page!).
- Everything you need to know to make Japanese curry at home with roux cubes
- Tons of tips and tricks, ideas and information included
- Easy-to-follow instruction
First, let's learn a little bit about how Japanese curry came to be. Curry rice surely has an interesting history. As most people probably already know, 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 in early Meiji period (1868-1912).
Yep that's right, Japanese curry is based on the U.K's version of curry. Japanese curry rice is not so spicy compared to its Indian counterparts, it’s also quite sweet and thick like a stew or gravy.
I love how curry has travelled around the world picking up new styles and flavours along the way.
Choosing the right Japanese curry roux
The chocolate bar shaped Japanese curry roux comes in lots of brands, spice levels and flavour varieties, so here are some things that are useful to know.
Levels of spiciness
There are 3 main levels of spiciness when it comes to curry roux in Japan, ranging from sweet and mild to hot and spicy. Here are the symbols that you need to look out for.
- 甘口 (amakuchi) - Sweet, mild and even kids can eat it with ease. Not really spicy at all. Usually labeled as level 1-2.
- 中辛 (chuukara) - A little spicy but still pretty easy to handle. Usually labelled Level 3 in spiciness.
- 辛口 (karakuchi) - Hot and spicy curry roux will usually be labelled as level 4,5 or 6, with 6 being the spiciest. Great for spice lovers.
If you're not sure, I'd say sticking with the middle option is always a safe bet.
Recommended curry roux brands
There are so many different brands to choose from that it can be overwhelming, especially if you're in a Japanese supermarket or shopping online.
Read more about the characteristics of these brands below.
As far as I know, Golden Curry by S&B is the brand that is the most accessible outside Japan. I even saw it in Sainsbury's (U.K. supermarket chain) when I lived in England.
You can buy mild, medium and hot S&B Golden Curry on Amazon. I recommend getting one of each and you can purchase as a bundle for a lower price here.
- Aroma of different spices (many people in Japan say Golden Curry has the nicest aroma)
- Spicier than normal Japanese curry
- Rich flavour
There also a special editions of golden curry that you can purchase on dokodemo, such as Premium Golden and Extra Hot Golden.
I've always known Vermont Curry by House as the curry with the apple and honey on the package. As you can expect, Vermont Curry is sweeter than the others and smells a bit sweet too.
You can buy mild or medium Vermont curry in packs of two on Amazon. (Each pack contains 12 servings.)
- Sweet flavour and smell
- Lighter in colour
- Kid friendly
House also have a premium curry only available in Japan. It goes simply by the name of "The Curry" and can be bought on Dokodemo in mild or medium.
Even though it might not be as accessible as the two above, Java Curry has always been my favourite. It's known as the spicy brand and their products have many different spice levels. The one in the picture above is the spiciest curry by Java.
You can buy medium hot and hot Java curry in single packs on Amazon. (One pack makes 9 servings.)
- Spicy and hot
- Rich and sharp
- Slightly sour
Other brands available in Japan
There are many other curry roux brands available in Japan such as:
- Kokumaro Curry (こくまろカレー): Rich and creamy (medium and hot available on Amazon)
- Dinner Curry (ディナーカレー): Elegant (mild/sweet, medium and hot available on Dokodemo)
- Premium Juku Curry (プレミアム熟カレー): Complex flavour (mild, medium and hot available on Dokodemo)
- Zeppin: Rich and spicy (medium available on Dokodemo)
- S&B Curry Prince (カレーの王子さま): Especially for kids, sweet and mild taste (available on Dokodemo)
- PLATINUM: Most gourmet and expensive curry blocks I have found in Japan so far, made by CANYON SPICE company.
The reason why I always mix different brands
Even though each product has so many different spices, I always mix at least 2-3 different brands. Why? I don't have logical explanation to it, but I truly believe that one secret of good Japanese curry is jumbling all the different flavours to a certain degree.
I usually try to mix at 2-3 different spice levels (Sweet, Medium, Spicy) because that way, you can get sweet apple and honey flavour from a mild one like Vermont and also complex spiciness and heat from brands like Java.
Mixing brands is actually a common thing you can see in ordinary Japanese home cooking as well. If you use one brand and stick to the instructions, your curry won't be unique. Complexity is a key.
For this recipe I mixed 2 cubes of golden curry (medium), 2 cubes of Java (hot) and 2 cubes of Vermont (sweet).
If you want to experiment with different brands, I highly recommend these bundles on Amazon.
MILD bundle (Contains Golden curry and Vermont)
MEDIUM bundle (Contains Golden curry, Vermont, Java and Kokumaro)
HOT bundle (Contains Golden curry, Vermont, Java and Kokumaro).
After buying a few of these Japanese curry blocks explained above, now you consider what kind of meat you want to go for. Although beef curry is the classic for Japanese curry rice, it's not uncommon to use other protein sources.
In this section, I will explain popular meat options people opt for in Japan.
As I already mentioned, "the Japanese curry rice" is beef curry. Beef gives it a great richness and flavour to go very well with Japanese style curry roux. However, choosing part of beef to use is very important.
- Short ribs
- Shoulder loin
Whichever part you choose, it should be cut into small chunks (like when you make beef stew) ideally. I personally opt for 70% shank and 30% sinew most of the time.
Beef shank and sinew are the parts that become more tender as they are stewed. However, I limit beef sinew to about 30% because its texture can be chewy (but if you stew for too long, it kind of melts into the curry) and also has a considerable amount of fat, regardless of the fact that the dissolved collagen makes the beef curry richer. At the end of the day, I want beefy meat in my curry as well!
If you are looking for a cut that does not require so much braising time, I recommend beef shoulder.
The good thing about using pork instead of beef is it's easier, cheaper and quicker to cook. You can also use most parts of pork for Japanese curry.
- Shoulder loin
When choosing, you should consider whether you want to make your curry lean or fat and rich. If you prefer lean and easy to eat pork curry, then my recommendation is pork leg or medallion.
On the other hand, if you want to enjoy the richness of fatty meat, pork belly is the best choice. Cut the block into cubes and use them to enjoy a rich pork curry. I would say shoulder, shoulder loin and loin would be somewhere in between of those.
You might be surprised, but chicken is not as popular meat choice as beef and pork for Japanese style curry. However, I'm not saying chicken doesn't work! More than anything, it's quite important to choose right parts of chicken.
For the best result for Japanese chicken curry, I recommend thigh, wings or drumsticks. If you have time, use chicken wings and simmer them slowly until the meat comes off the bones to make a chicken curry full of rich chicken flavor. Chicken thigh is more for a quicker option.
Chicken breast is passable, but I personally think it's too lean and dry to go with Japanese curry. I tend to feel like chicken breast and curry roux don't mingle together well.
I must say, seafood is a hidden gem for Japanese curry. If I have to rank the protein ingredients, seafood comes second after beef for me. It's that good and I would like you to try it one day as well! The umami from different varieties of seafood is indescribable.
Unlike the other meat options, it's actually important to use a few different seafood and mix rather than choosing one here. So my recommendation is, use small portion of each seafood or frozen seafood mix!
Also, the possibilities of seafood options for Japanese curry is endless, so you can experiment with other seafood from your area as well (for example crab, lobster, etc).
3 popular vegetable variations
Once you choose the meat/protein option, now it's time to consider vegetables to use for your Japanese curry. In this section, I will explain a few popular variations for your inspiration.
Classic curry: Onion, Carrot and Potatoes
The most standard home cooked Japanese curry has these ingredients, onion, carrot and potatoes. What is so good is, wherever you live in the world, you can get these ingredients easily.
If you have never had Japanese curry yet, I would recommend this standard vegetable combination.
- White onion
Summer Curry: Eggplant, Okra, Pumpkin...etc
This combination is also known as "summer vegetable curry" in Japan. Tomatoes, courgette, and bell peppers are also commonly used, and many summer vegetables are beautifully colored, making the dish vibrant and fresh.
The difference is that these vegetables are grilled separately, rather than simmered with the curry roux. This is because many summer vegetables are soft and lose their shape and texture.
Some people even use grilled tomato for summer vegetable curry!
- Eggplant (Aubergine)
- Bell pepper
- Zucchini (Courgette)
- Goya (bitter melon)
Winter Curry: Turnip, Broccoli, Napa cabbage...etc
On the contrary to summer vegetables, these are the winter vegetable variation. Since there are more root vegetables, they will taste even better when cooked together. However, vegetable like broccoli or spinach are some exceptions as they can break easily in roux, so it's best to boil and garnish them at the end.
- Sweet potatoes
- Napa cabbage
- Lotus roots
However, there is no rule to which vegetables to use for Japanese curry. My best advice is, use your local and favourite ingredients and experiment! Remember, creativity is always a key for making Japanese curry.
Water substitutions to maximize flavour
So all of the curry roux cubes will tell you to mix with x amount of water, but you're certainly not limited to using plain water. The liquid added to curry is yet another opportunity to add extra flavour.
In this section, I will list a few options of alternative liquids you can add to your Japanese style curry instead of plain old water. These will range from not-so-scary ones to very quirky ones that you probably haven't heard of.
Be careful when using liquids that already have salt as it can make the curry too salty.
If you can get unsalted beef stock, chicken stock, vegetable stock etc. these would be a great flavour boost for Japanese curry.
Since stock powders can be quite salty, you have to be quite careful if you want to add them. I recommend using water in the beginning, then adding small amounts of stock cubes/powders after you've mixed in the curry roux. This way, you can taste test as you go to prevent having an overly salty curry!
You want to make your curry extra Japanesey? In that case, you might want to consider using dashi stock for the liquid. The good thing about dashi is that they don't contain any salt so you can simply replace it with water.
Some Japanese curry specialty restaurants use this technique as well. If you're interested in making dashi, I have a recipe for homemade dashi here!
Fond de veau
If you want to make your curry more elegant, French fond de veau is a great option! Fond de veau is a type of French broth made by simmering veal bones and meat with aromatic vegetables and other ingredients for a long time.
Even in Japanese supermarket, fond de veau jelly/powder is sold for making Japanese style curry, so it's safe to say this is a top choice!
This is the quirky one that I was talking about. This is an idea that I found when I was randomly watching a TV show a few years ago. The show was featuring curry development society at Kyoto University (one of the best universities in Japan). It's interesting enough that one of the smartest people in Japan study curry as a club activity but using black tea for curry was mind blowing to me.
According to them, the use of black tea mellows the curry. The program was very interesting as it introduced various other science based techniques. But instead of substituting all water for tea, you may start with a small amount.
Wine / Juice
Other than these above, you can also replace 10% of the water with red wine for beef/pork curry or white wine for chicken or seafood curry. If you don't want to use alcohol you can use a bit of apple juice, grape juice or something like that instead!
Type of rice to serve with Japanese curry
You might wonder what kind of rice works the best with Japanese style curry. The short answer is, short grain Japanese sticky rice (Japonica rice). Just like some other curries in the world work better with long grain rice (for example Indian curry or Thai curry), Japanese style curry works the best with short grain rice.
Incidentally, there are more than 300 varieties of rice grown in Japan, and more than 1,000 varieties of rice grown worldwide. The rice grown in Japan is collectively called "japonica rice," characterized by its rounded oval shape, stickiness, and sweet taste.
- Koshihikari (コシヒカリ)
- Akita komachi (あきたこまち)
- Hitomebore (ひとめぼれ)
- Haenuki (はえぬき)
- Sasanishiki (ササニシキ)
Look out for these types for the most authentic Japanese curry experience! If you want to cook Japanese style rice without rice cooker, you can check out my how to cook Japanese rice on stove recipe.
If you don't mind extra effort for richer Japanese curry rice, you can make garlic rice that I used for hayashi rice recipe. The simplified instruction for garlic rice is below:
- Approx 320g cooked rice (2 portions)
- 1 tsp unsalted butter
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tsp parsley finely chopped or dry
Heat a separate pan on a medium heat and add butter and crushed garlic.
Once fragrant, add the cooked rice and stir fry for a few minutes.
Sprinkle with dry parsley and mix until it's distributed throughout the rice.
Dish up the rice onto one side of the serving plates and pour the curry roux next to it.
7 Topping variations
Now we come to the topping section. You can customize your Japanese style curry by using all the techniques we have talked about, but you can also make a big difference with toppings too.
So in this section, I will list every popular curry rice topping in Japan and explain how they can change your Japanese style curry.
Fukujinzuke is a non-fermented sweet pickle made by seasoning vegetables such as radishes, eggplants, lotus roots, cucumbers, and shiitake mushrooms with soy sauce, sugar, mirin, and other seasonings.
I said "topping variation", but this is almost a must item to go with Japanese curry. I personally think it's not complete without fukujinzuke.
You might recognize it as "red pickles", but the red color is made by food coloring to make it contrast with the dark curry roux. In fact, naturally, fukujinzuke is orangey brown in color.
Melty cheese is also a very popular topping option for Japanese curry. The addition of cheese gives the curry a unique dairy richness and depth. It may also be used to soften the spiciness of curry when it is too hot. Other than shredded cheese, some people use powdered cheese for a tangier taste.
If using melty cheese, I'd recommend cheddar or gouda cheese, and if using powdered cheese, Parmesan or Pecorino cheese will add a stronger cheesy flavour to Japanese curry.
Eggs as a topping for curry can be used in all forms: raw, semi-cooked, onsen, boiled and fried. I especially recommend the half-boiled egg, which blends easily with curry.
It is a popular topping in Japan because the curry roux becomes milder when mixed with egg and also because it is a common household ingredient that you likely already have in your fridge.
Tonkatsu is basically a Japanese deep fried pork cutlet. You might already know it but when Japanese style curry topped with tonkatsu is called "katsu curry". It's safe to say it's the ultimate version of Japanese curry and it's so good.
If you want to make an ultimate homemade tonkatsu, check out my tonkatsu recipe! You can also make it with chicken katsu variation as well!
Karaage is a Japanese style fried chicken, and it's not as popular topping as tonkatsu, but a lot of people like it together with Japanese curry.
If you want to use Japanese fried chicken as topping, you can either check out my karaage recipe or tatsuta age recipe.
Rakkyo (Allium Chinense) is a vegetable belonging to the Liliaceae family and the leek genus. In English it has many names such as "Chinese onion", "Chinese scallion", "Japanese scallion" and looks a bit like a cross between a garlic clove and shallot. It has a unique aroma and pungent taste. When rakkyo is pickled in sweet vinegar, it's called rakkyozuke.
Some people use it as a topping for curry instead of fukujinzuke. While some people love the unique flavor of rakkyo, there are quite a few who dislike it as well.
This can be the most surprising topping, but it is one of the most well known toppings for Japanese curry. Natto is a fermented food made from softened soybeans that have been boiled or steamed and fermented by the bacillus natto.
You might think "it's never going to work" but in fact, they go very well together. I liked it as a kid myself, and still like it to this day.
However, natto is a food that can be loved or hated, so do not put natto on your curry unless you're 100% sure that you like natto on its own first. If you want to know more about natto, I have a comprehensive article about natto here.
Secret tips for making Japanese curry (Surprise Ingredients)
Now we have come to the last part, secret ingredients! Using only curry roux cubes makes great curry for sure, but using secret ingredients with roux cubes makes pro curry and rice.
In fact, did you know most restaurants serving curry rice do not actually make curry from scratch. They actually use roux cubes too! So what makes them special compared to home cooked curry? The answer is in the secret ingredients.
I'll give you some ideas of secret ingredients that improve the taste of home cooked curry rice. Using different secret ingredients every time and then see how's different from last time!
This is a pretty recent discovery for me. I always add onions to curry (despite not being a huge fan of onions myself haha) and I always thought that frying them until softened is enough. That is until I tried adding "caramelized onions" and it was a game changer!
Whether you have Japanese curry roux or not, caramelized onions will add a rich, gravy like taste to your curry as well as improve the colour. It's time consuming, but it's worth putting in that time to level up your curry. I've included steps on how to caramelize onions in the recipe below.
- Timing: 40 mins
- Amount: 1.5 - 2 onions
- Recommended: Someone who wants depth of flavour
- Effect: Richer more gravy like taste, deepens the brown colour
If you love caramelized onions but don't want to spend so much time making them every time you make curry, make a large batch and then freeze them in smaller batches. Store them in zip lock bags and then add directly to your curry, no need to defrost! Frozen caramelized onions will keep for several months if stored properly. (Be careful to prevent freezer burn or ice crystals forming by ensuring the container/zipper bags are properly sealed and airtight.)
This one is kind of understandable, isn't it?
A small amount of chocolate will make the curry richer. It's a secret ingredient so don't put too much though!
- Timing: After the roux has melted
- Amount: 2-3g
- Recommended: Someone who's not good with spice
- Effect: Softening the spiciness
Instant coffee Powder
Whenever I make curry and rice with roux cubes, I make sure to add instant coffee.
It definitely contributes to a richer taste!
- Timing: After the roux has melted
- Amount: 2 tsp
- Recommended: Someone who wants deeper and richer taste
- Effect: Richen the curry
This is another secret ingredient that I use regularly.
It will add a nice punch too the roux and give it a little bit of European stew taste.
- Timing: Same time as water
- Amount: Substitute 10% of water amount (so this recipe would be 720ml water 80ml wine)
- Recommended: Someone who wants to add some sourness
- Effect: Making it more refreshing, adds a touch of sourness
I personally add a bit of soy sauce every time. I usually use Japanese brand Kikkoman.
As you can guess, it will add a bit more umami and Japanese taste to the curry!
- Timing: Right before the roux cubes
- Amount: 1 tbsp
- Recommended: Someone who wants to add Japanese/Wafu taste
- Effect: Making it more Japanesey / adding umami
This is a popular addition but I personally don't use it as I don't like curry being too sour.
But if you want to add tomato's sourness, you can add any of these tomato products. But be careful with tomato puree, a little goes a long way and adding too much can make it too tomato-y. (Speaking from my experience)
- Timing: When you add the vegetables
- Amount: 1 tbsp-3 tbsp
- Recommended: Someone who wants to add sourness
- Effect: Making it sour and tomatoey
Additional secret ingredients
There are seriously endless possibilities when it comes to curry and I'm always on a mission to create the best curry there can be, but in the end it all comes down to personal preference.
Here are a few more ingredients you can try depending on whether you want to make your curry sweeter, richer, spicier or more sour.
- Grated apple (peeled)
- Apple sauce
- Chili powder
- Garam Masala
- Chili sauce
- Fresh chili
- Dark chocolate
- Caramelized onion
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Tomato Puree
- Canned Tomato
If you know any other ingredients that have improved your curry, comment below and I'll add them to the list!
Storing and reheating
Lastly, I will add helpful tips for storing and reheating leftover Japanese curry. As you might expect, there are two methods you can use, refrigerated or frozen. Avoid storing at room temperature to prevent foodborne illness.
Refrigerated up to 2-3 days
First, remove the pot of curry from the heat and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.
After it's cooled down, divide the curry into smaller portions, such as one or two servings, and place them in storage containers (preferably glass to prevent staining) or zipped storage bags.
Since storing in small portions allows for quicker cooling, it is recommended to choose smaller containers rather than a large ones. This is also more convenient for reheating individual portions. If you want to store curry in a zippered storage bag, try to keep it as flat as possible.
To reheat chilled curry, place it in a saucepan and heat slowly over low heat, stirring constantly.
Microwaving is not recommended as it tends to cause uneven heating but if you want to microwave it anyway, microwave for 1 minute at a time and mix well between each interval.
If you can't eat it in a couple of days, please consider freezing it as explained below.
Frozen up to 1 month
The standard storage guideline for freezing curry is one month, which allows for long-term storage, but there are a few things to keep in mind when freezing and reheating from frozen.
When freezing curry, you really need to be careful about the ingredients. For example, potatoes and carrots, which are common vegetables used in curry, will lose water and become dry in texture when frozen, ruining the curry as a whole. Potatoes especially, tend to fall apart after freezing and reheating.
Therefore, remove such ingredients before placing the curry in the storage container.
The recommended method for thawing frozen curry is to place it in the refrigerator and thaw it slowly (overnight). If you froze your curry in zipper bags you can defrost in hot water.
Once defrosted, place the curry in a saucepan and heat slowly over low heat, stirring constantly, just as you would if you had kept it refrigerated.
Microwaving frozen curry removes flavor and moisture, and the taste tends to deteriorate. However, if you want to microwave it anyway, heat it 1 minute at a time and stir well between each interval.
Next day curry is better? (Myth?)
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 it's cooked. As a Japanese person myself, I personally think that is true. Well, I did a bit of research and found a scientific reason for that.
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. That’s why it’s better to eat it the next day if you can wait! Or why not eat it two days in a row and compare the difference?
Watch my video "How to make Japanese Curry with Roux cubes"
I hope this post inspires you to try out new ingredients and helps you to make the best curry you've ever made! And if you don't have access to Japanese roux cubes, check out my post on how to make Japanese curry from scratch here!
I think overall, my favourite secret ingredient is coffee, I add it every time!
What's your favourite surprise ingredient? Comment below and let us know!
Japanese Curry Using Roux Cubes (Including Lots of Secret Tips)
- Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Yield: 6 Portions
How to make the ultimate Japanese Curry at home using roux cubes (recipe includes a few of my favourite secret ingredients to add depth of flavour and complexity).
Caramelized Onions (optional)
- 1.5 - 2 Onions
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 pinch Salt
- 1-3 tsp water
- 250 - 300g (approx ½lb) beef (or protein of your choice)
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 carrot
- 2 - 3 medium Potatoes
- ½ a box of Japanese Curry Roux (approx 100g)
- 700 - 900ml water (this is an average, check the box for exact measurements)
- 6 portions cooked white rice (approx 960g, or 3 rice cups before cooking)
- Your choice of secret ingredients (I used red wine, coffee, dark chocolate, soy sauce - all optional!)
Caramelizing the onions
(Optional step. If you don't want to caramelize onion, then skip these steps and fry the onion in the pot with the butter and fry for 5-10 mins before adding the garlic and meat.)
- Thinly slice the onions. (The thinner they are, the quicker they'll cook.)
- Heat a pan on medium. Once hot, drizzle the olive oil and add the sliced onions.
- Fry the onions for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so that they don't burn. After 10 minutes, add a sprinkle of salt and mix well.
- Reduce the heat to low and continue cook for another 20-30 minutes, stir every few minutes prevent burning. (If the onions stick to the pan, add 1-2 tsp of water at a time to help unstick them.)
- While they're cooking, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Once they're complete they should look something like this:
Making the curry
- Peel the potato and carrot, and cut them into large pieces, slightly bigger than bitesize. (Try not to cut them too small otherwise they will fall apart during the cooking process.) Cut your meat into bite size pieces.
- Heat a large pot on medium and add the butter. Once it's melted, add 2 cloves of grated or crushed garlic and fry until fragrant.
- Once the garlic is fragrant, add the meat to the pan and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Brown the surface to seal the meat.
- Once the meat is sealed, add the carrot and potato to the pot. Stir and cook together for a 1-2 minutes.
- Add the caramelized onion to the pot and stir thoroughly to break it up.
- Pour in 700 - 900ml of water (depending on your roux) and bring it to the boil. (If you want to add red wine, swap 10% of the water for the wine. Example: 850ml water becomes 765ml and 85ml of wine. You can also add tomato puree etc here if desired.)
- Once it's boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 20 mins with the lid slightly ajar.
- While you're waiting, check back from time to time and use a spoon to skim the foamy residue from the top of the simmering liquid. (If you want to add soy sauce, add it now)
- After 20 mins, turn the heat down to low and add your Japanese curry roux. Mix it until the roux has dissolved into the broth and simmer without a lid for 5-10 minutes or until thickened to your preference. (If it becomes too thick, you can add more water, 50-100ml at a time. If it's too thin, simmer for a little longer and check every 5 minutes.)
- Optional: If you want to add chocolate or coffee powder you can add them now.
- Once you reach your desired consistency, remove it from the stove.
- Serve with white rice and your favourite toppings, and enjoy!
Please refer to the roux packaging for exact roux and water measurements.
If you have leftover curry, let it cool down for 20-30 mins, before dividing and storing in airtight freezer-proof containers. Store in the fridge for 2-3 days or up to one month in the freezer. (Remove potato and carrots before freezing.)
Note that curry will stain plastic containers so it's recommended to store in glass/pyrex containers if you have them. Alternatively, you can store in properly sealed freezer bags with a zip.
Leftovers can be reheated on the stove or in the microwave. (Be sure to heat in intervals and mix between each interval if microwaving, this will help it heat more evenly.)
Leftover curry is often thicker the next day so add more water if necessary.
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 1 hour 20 mins
- Category: Mains
- Method: Boil
- Cuisine: Japanese
Keywords: How to make Japanese curry, Japanese curry roux recipe,how can I improve my curry, curry ingredients, what can i add to Japanese curry,How to make Japanese curry rice,Japanese curry rice recipe,What is the difference between Japanese curry and Indian curry,Ingredients for Japanese curry rice,Japanese curry recipe,Instructions for Japanese curry roux,secret Japanese curry ingredients,Japanese katsu curry,How to make the best Japanese Curry, how long can you keep Japanese curry, how long can you freeze japanese curry for,
Frequently Asked Questions
What does Japanese curry taste like?
Compared to Indian curry, I would say Japanese curry is less spicy but thicker and sweeter.
And you can usually taste a little bit of a dashi-like flavour.
How do you make Japanese curry thicker?
You can add 1 tbsp of water and flour mix slurry but I personally don't recommend to do that.
Even if it's thin, as you simmer, it will be thicker and definitely thicker and richer next day, I think patience is mostly needed here.
Is Japanese curry spicy?
It depends on what kind of roux cubes you use. In Japan there are usually 3 types and 6 levels.
• Sweet (level 1-2)
• Medium (level 3)
• Hot (level 4,5,6)
The sweet one is kids friendly so it's actually quite sweet and not spicy at all, on the other hand, hot one is actually quite hot (by Japanese standards anyway).
What is Japanese curry called?
It's either カレーライス (Curry rice) or カレー (Curry)
Which Japanese curry is the best?
It definitely depends on your preference, but I personally like:
Java curry (ジャワカレー, Hot)
Golden curry (ゴールデンカレー, Spicy)
Vermont curry (バーモントカレー, Sweet)
And I usually get these three above and mix together rather than only using one brand.
What is usually in Japanese curry?
Most standard Japanese style curry contains cooked rice, curry roux, beef, potatoes, carrots and onions.
What is different about Japanese curry?
The main difference between Indian and Japanese curries is the thickening of the curry. While most Indian curries are relatively thin, Japanese curries are characterized by the thickening of the curry by flour. Incidentally, Japanese curry was introduced by England rather than directly from India.
How to make Japanese curry from scratch?
While 99% of Japanese households use premade curry roux cubes, you can make Japanese style curry from scratch. If you're interested, check out my Japanese beef curry from scratch recipe or chicken curry from scratch recipe.
never tried the recipe but try adding, garam masala, oregano or coriander powder. Try one at a time and see which tastes better. You can also try adding them together as well.
Yes! I used garam masala and coriander powder in my homemade curry roux recipe. (http://sudachirecipes.com/homemade-japanese-curry-roux-recipe/) I haven't tried adding oregano before, I'll have to try it next time. Thanks for your suggestions!
Tried this today - fantastic! I got the Vermont curry roux. Didn’t go with the caramelised onions option (just sauteed them), but on your suggestion added coffee powder and soy sauce (and then a little honey) - flavour was absolutely on point. So good! Thank you!
Hi Tricia, thank you so much for your comment and generous rating! Yes, caramelising the onions can be a bit time consuming, but I'm happy you enjoyed the other tips! 🙂
I really like adding a little grated ginger to mine- a couple teaspoons in the cooking liquid (usually I use unsalted chicken broth so it doesn’t get too salty with the curry). I love the ginger aroma! I also add grated Fuji apple, but next time I make it I’m also going to try the coffee- it sounds delicious!
Hi Marlena. Unsalted chicken broth is a great idea! I like to put grated ginger and apple too. Thank you for suggestions and the 5 star rating, I really appreciate it! 🙂
Thanks for the duration for caramelizing onion. I have been doing lately but I'm still unsure of the time needee. Will try that for dinner tonight.
WRT secrets ingredients, recently I tried adding doubanjiang (I got some extra from trying to make mapo tofu) and it taste good (to me anyway).
You're welcome! It takes a while but it's so worth it 🙂
I've never tried adding doubanjiang, but I think it's a great idea! I'm gonna try it next time, thank you!
Thank you for all the tips!
I just made it and it tastes incredible. The best Japanese curry I've made so far. I caramelised the onions, added vegetable stock bouillon, bit of soya sauce, ketchup, coffee powder and (because I couldn't find cocoa powder/plain chocolate), some chocolate peanut butter and a bit of cranberry flavoured chocolate).
However I bought beef cubes (pasture-raised) and it is somewhat still tough and it's a little too salty for my liking (probably should not have added additional salt). Will try to improve on this next time by using different cut of beef.
Thank you, your tips have elevated my home cooked curry!
It's my pleasure! Thank you for trying out the recipe and tips, I'm so glad you liked it!
Do you know if your vegetable stock bouillon or peanut butter contained salt? That could have contributed to the saltiness.
I've actually never tried peanut butter in my curry, thanks for the tip!
For tougher beef that needs a longer cooking time, I would probably suggest simmering for 30 minutes extra before adding the vegetables and curry roux to help soften it up. It might also be softer the next day if you have time to keep it in the fridge overnight.
Thank you again for trying the recipe and giving your feedback, it means a lot!
Great recipe, really like the caramelized onion addition. Just a note the browning the meat to seal in juices is a common misconception. While browning improves flavor it doesn’t actually seal in juices.
Hi, thank you for your comment and rating, it means a lot and I'm glad you like the recipe!
You're right, I've been seeing that more and more recently. But yeah I agree, I do think it's important to seal the meat to improve the taste and texture. I've updated the post, thanks again!
Amazing recipe! I am already trying to buy the curry roux so I can make it this week. If I can'T find the hot Java curry and only mix Vermont and Golden how many of each should I use for the recipe?
Many thanks in advance!
Thank you for your comment and generous rating!
Your question is a little tricky because it depends on your personal preference. I recommend starting with 50/50 and then adjust from there, although this does depend on whether you bought mild/medium/hot. For example if one of them is hot but you don't want it to be too spicy, you should use less of the hot one.
Vermont is 6 cubes in 1/2 a box and golden is 4, so I'd say 3 cubes cubes of Vermont and 2 golden with 725ml of liquid. I also recommend taste testing after adding the cubes, you can simmer it down to make it stronger/thicker or add more water if you find it too salty.
Good luck, let us know how it goes!
I just wanted to say thanks! I really like the carmeralized onions and adding chocolate! I also added bouillion cubes to the water and it taste amazing.
Try adding coconut milk to your curry
Thanks for the suggestion!
Great Site with great Recipes!!
What Type of Instant Coffee you use?
Thanks greetings fromm Austria
Thanks so much! It doesn't need to be anything fancy, I just used Nescafe original! You can use any instant coffee you have in your cupboard 🙂
Thanks for your question.
omg eating bites as I type this comment, thank you for this recipe. I was scared of adding the coffee (dark roast). This extremely delicious and I'm enjoying it. Yummyy!!!!
Hi Elisa, glad you're enjoying the recipe! Coffee is one of my favourite additions, I know it seems like a strange ingredient to use in curry but I'm glad you liked it too. Thank you for the feedback and 5 star rating!
All the best, Yuto