Father's Day is June 16

Kayoko and I taught a class on how to make Japanese curry from scratch two years ago and the resulting recipe was epic. It delivered great results, but at the expense of toiling in the kitchen all day and collecting a laundry list of ingredients. Who has time for that? Not me.

The following recipe is how I actually make curry on a regular basis. I use store-bought roux and dress it up with some of my time-tested secrets. It's very easy, but requires a slow cooker and some time (mostly inactive Crock-Pot cooking time). I guarantee that the results will never disappoint.

Simplified Japanese Curry

Makes 12 servings

1 8.4 oz box of S&B curry roux (I like extra hot)
1 quart of low sodium chicken broth
2 bone-in chicken thighs
2 yellow onions
15 shiitake
4-5 small potatoes (Russet or Yukon Gold)
2 carrots
1 large clove of garlic, minced


1. In a large pan, heat 4 tbsp of EVOO on high.


2. Meanwhile, chop onions into eighths.


3. Add minced garlic, onions, and chicken, skin side down, into pan. Keep on high for 5-7 minutes.


4. Slice shiitake like so.


5. After slicing the shiitake, the onions in the pan should start to brown and shrink. Turn the chicken over.

6. Add the shiitake into the pan and turn heat down to medium. Try to get the shiitake to have as much contact to the bottom of the pan as possible. Continue to cook in the pan for another 10 minutes.


7. Back to the cutting board. Peel carrots and potatoes and chop into large 2 to 3-inch pieces.


8. Get your slow cooker out and put the carrots and potatoes in it.


9. After 10 minutes of cooking the chicken on the second side, there should be some nice browning in your pan. To deglaze, the bottom of the pan, add about 1/2 of cup of chicken broth to the pan. Let the pan sit for about 5 min after adding the broth.


Deglazing in progress:


10. After 5 min, the pan is nicely deglazed and the onion mixture is lifting off the pan easily.


Add the contents of the pan into the Crock-Pot on top of the potatoes and carrots.

11. Once all the solids are in the slow cooker, add the rest of the chicken broth into the pot.


12. Set the Crock-Pot on low and let sit for about 4 hours.


13. After 4 hours or so, add the S&B roux.


Break pieces apart and put it all in.


Mix the contents around with the roux and let sit in slow cooker for at least 6 hours on low.


14. Good morning! Here's the mixture after a good night's rest (for me and the curry).


You will see that the meat has fallen completely off the bone.


15. Serve.


One of the things I really love about cooking curry in the Crock-Pot on low is that the potatoes keep their shape and do not melt into the sauce. This is a well-known problem for Japanese curry connoisseurs. On the other hand, the constant, low temperature melts all the good stuff off the chicken bones, adding to the flavor of the sauce. The Crock-Pot on low is a win-win for Japanese curry!


This method does take some planning (and restraint, as the Crock-Pot will smell irresistible 12-16 hours) but it's very simple and fool proof.
Column: Japanify


  • Sorry, but I am not about this recipe. You essentially take the ready-made curry and gussy it up a little bit. The J&B (or whatever brand) do not need to be cooked for 6 hours. To make this better, you cook the ingredients in water for the amount of time it taked to cook them. Then you stir in the curry roux blocks at the end of the cooking process. You bring just to a boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes for it to thicken up. No need for a 6 hour slow cooker… you can just braise it in the oven at 300 degree (F) for 2 hours. You’re right, chicken thighs work great. You also get it wrong about the potato. The problem you describe about the potato melting into the stew is because of the use of a starchy potato (i.e., russet). You get better results if you use a waxier potato (e.g., white rose, new red potatoes, etc.) They tend to cook up nice and soft, but do not break down and have a wonderful mouthfeel in this kind of stew. Japanese curry rice is one of my favorite foods and I have been making it for years. Even other Japanese love my curry and I won a competition in Sendai years ago when I lived there. No one could (wanted) to believe that a gaijin like me could make a much better curry than all the other “real” Japanese. They were sure that my mother-in-law had helped me and literally had to call her on the phone to have her attest she did not help me. In the end I got my blue ribbon.

    mickey on

  • YUM, this recipe is so simple and easy, and the curry is the bomb! I’ve only tried to make Japanese curry once before and it was from scratch and ended up tasting like beef bourguignon…. This will be my go to!

    lauren on

  • Just made this. So so thankful for this awesome recipe! We’ve tried making curry in the past and it never had enough flavor. This one is so good, we ate it for breakfast! Oishi :]

    Manon on

  • Is there a typo on the ingredients list? How does this serve 12 people with only two chicken thighs? Do you mean this serves two?

    Chris Fisher on

  • I’ll be right over.

    Kayoko on

  • This looks soooo delicious! How big is your crockpot?

    Seri on

  • Hi Chris, this is indeed for 12 servings. The chicken is mainly there to flavor the sauce. You can add more chicken if you’d like, but the slow cooker may get really full.

    Yoko Kumano on

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