Anyone who knows us – and probably you’ve all guessed from this blog as well – knows that we love Japanese food. It’s simple, yet tasty, and usually not overly heavy or extremely time-consuming (not like Cassoulet or Boeuf Bourguignon). As with pretty much any national cuisine, I feel like the rustic, country dishes are often some of the best. With Japanese cuisine, nabe (hot pot) and Japanese curry are two of our very favorites.
Japanese curry is kind of a twist on Indian curry – it uses many of the same spices, but it also has a sweetness that Indian curry doesn’t have, and it is made with a roux (mixture of flour and fat of some sort), so it is thicker and a bit more like a stew than Indian curry.
Typically when we have made Japanese curry, we have used the little blocks of solid roux that you can get in a box at the store, and just melt into your hot water to cook everything in. However, we don’t usually like to have to depend on a pre-made thing, because you don’t know if you’ll always be able to find it, and you may have to go out of your way to get it, when you could just make it from normal ingredients that you have already, or are easier to find.
So, we wanted to try making the curry from scratch. We found this recipe at No Recipes, and decided to give it a try. We made a few modifications from the recipe. I used 1 lb ground beef, and 1 lb ground pork, as we kind of like ground meat in our Japanese curry. I used 2 apples, as we really like the sweet apple flavor. I used 2 cups water, and 2 cups homemade chicken stock. We used half garam masala, and half curry powder. I also used Okonomi sauce instead of Tonkatsu sauce, because we had one and not the other :) We have also made this both with butter, and with coconut oil, and both ways were very good. We have also used ground turkey instead of beef and pork, and that was very good. We’ve substituted rice flour for the wheat flour to make it gluten free, and we’ve made it with just veggies and mushrooms (and coconut oil as above) to make it vegan. Mix it up and find your favorite way to do it.
Here is what we did:
- 3 tbsp butter or coconut oil
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1/4 tsp (or slightly less) cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tbsp okonomi sauce
- 2 tsp oil
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 1 lb ground beef, lean
- 1 lb ground pork
- 2 carrots sliced diagonally
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 large yukon gold potatoes, cut in small chunks
- 2 apples, peeled and pureed (we use a microplane grater for this)
- In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat, then plop in the sliced onions. Cook until they are nice and brown and caramelized.
- Turn up the heat to high, and add the beef and pork. Cook until browned.
- Add the carrots, cook briefly, then add the water and chicken stock.
- Bring liquid to a boil, then lower the heat, and add the potatoes, apple puree, some salt, and 1 tsp of garam masala.
- Simmer until you can easily poke a fork through the carrots and potatoes.
- In a small saucepan, melt the 3 tbsp of butter or coconut oil.
- Add the 1/4 cup flour, 1 tbsp curry powder and 1 tbsp garam masala, mix until you have a thick paste.
- Add the cayenne pepper, and some fresh-ground black pepper, and mix it into the paste.
- Add ketchup and okonomi sauce, and again, mix together. Cook until the paste starts to crumble a bit.
- Remove the saucepan from heat, and set aside.
- Once the vegetables in the pot are tender, ladle about 2 cups of the liquid into the saucepan with the paste you made, whisking to make sure you make a smooth sauce with no lumps.
- Pour this thick sauce back into the pot, and mix it around well.
- Simmer for a few more minutes to allow the whole curry to thicken.
- Serve over a bed of rice, with a little bit of pickled ginger (kizami shoga).