Let's get back to the basics this week. Everyone loves Japanese curry, right? Like any family recipe, there are various ways to make this-- it's the best comfort food, especially in the wintertime. Since I'm traveling to Japan for the holidays, I made a huge batch for my bf for when I'm away.
The basics for making Japanese curry are the same, and many people usually use the blocks pre-made roux, but every family has their own methods and recipes by adding different ingredients to it. You actually don't need pre-made roux, and can start from scratch, but it definitely makes your life easier. I sometimes make it from scratch, and other times, rely on the roux.
For the post, I am using a combination of pre-made blocks of roux, and the curry-from-scratch method. Keep in mind that the ingredients change based on season or availability, but the basics are the same. Meat can be anything (beef, chicken, pork, ground meat works well as well). Most common vegetables to add are onion, carrots, and potato. You can add eggplants, cauliflower, pumpkin, etc. Anything is possible here.
First, cut up bunch of onions (I used 6 medium sized) and cook in heavy bottomed pot until they start to caramelize. (Please feel free to divide this recipe by half going for a family portion).
Once the onions brown nicely, take them out of the pot. In the same pot, brown the meat of your choice. It's important to use one pot so that you can keep building on the flavors. Look at the bits and flavors stuck on the bottom-- this is the good stuff. You don't want to lose any of it.
This time, I went fancy and used sukiyaki beef (thin sliced rib eye). Once the beef gets browns, take it out of the pot. I know it's annoying to keep taking everything out of the pot, but it definitely makes the best curry by browning your meat first. Also there's a reason to take the meat out.
Once the meat is cooked, bring onions back into the pot, and add 3 tbsp of flour. You want to make a thick curry, not a runny one, so it's important to bring the onion back in, and pour some flour over. Stir for about a minute to cook flour, then slowly add water to deglaze the pot. The beautiful glaze on the bottom of the pot should be scraped off. If you have leftover wine, you can use it here (use whatever you have, from a half a bottle, down to a tablespoon). Once you get a nice and thick roux-looking base (like below), put the meat back in.
This is the time to add vegetables (some recipe says to sautée the vegetables, but I don't usually do it). I am using four carrots, and one whole kabocha squash for this batch. Add enough water to submerge everything.
Add a cube of chicken bouillon and 1tbsp of curry powder. Cook until all the root vegetables are tender. Meanwhile, once water starts boiling, get rid of the foam on the top. It's the fat from meat, and you want to scrape as much of it as you can, off.
Once everything is cooked through, add the roux. You can get this at almost any Asian grocery stores, and I see it at general grocery stores now too.
Roux looks like a hunk of chocolate, but it's basically a condensed version of all the curry spices with thickening agents, such as starch. The Japanese are genius' in terms of coming up with "housewife kitchen saviors." Busy moms can come home from their jobs, and still make a semi-homemade meal in short time. Mind you, this is completely different from Sandra fucking Lee's semi-homemade crap. This is real busy moms who come home to hungry kids and feed them, unlike going on a campaign tour with a governor and claims she still has to cook. Bullshit.
Especially since this batch is pretty much double the normal portion, you want to open your pantry and start adding various flavors at this point. Roux on its own will be too thin and weak. What I usually put in is: soy sauce, ketchup, honey, instant coffee, miso, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, worcestershire sauce, tonkatsu sauce. It's really impossible for anyone to provide measurements for these additional flavors-- use your imagination here, and adjust to taste. Remember, everyone has their own recipe for curry!
Curry is all about cleaning up your pantry, or using up all the leftover ingredients. It's one of the best comfort foods, and it's also one of the best ways to get rid of all the leftover meat and vegetables for the cook. "Mom, I want curry for dinner tonight," is the best request any mom can get. She can throw all the bits and pieces of vegetables she has been saving up since she thinks she can find some use for it, but in reality, it's been sitting in the back of the fridge for over a week.
Once you reach the point of your perfect curry, pour it over rice.
There, you have a nice Japanese curry. Actually curry always taste better the next day.
I made this batch so that my bf won't starve while I am in Japan. We had this for dinner, plus there are nine servings for him to eat over the next three weeks.
I also made 17 whole wheat bagels for him.
I am set to go to Japan now. I can't wait to dig into my mom's fridge to find the same items that hasn't been touched all year!