Eilene is having a bunch of her friends over for an overnight. She challenged me to make a Japanese curry. I do not particularly like Japanese curry, but it is for her and her friends.
There are differences between Japanese and Indian curries. Indian Curry is much spicier in every sense. Japanese curry is sweeter (they add honey and apples), it usually it included potatoes, and a curry power roux is used to thicken the sauce. Most Japanese add these prepackaged cubes to their meat and vegetables to make their sauces.
If the Japanese do go to the effort to make their own roux, they add English “curry powder.” There are historical reasons for this, but I understand that no real Indian cook would be caught dead using anything like this “curry powder.” I do not like most of these “curry powders,” because they have too much turmeric. This makes them taste “flat.” If you taste some strait turmeric you will understand what I mean by that.
I decided that I would make my own masala curry (adapted from a Spice Goddess recipe). I would then create my own Japanese-style curry. I decided to add cabbage, because some of my daughter’s friends are vegetable-phobes.
Karl’s Japanese Chicken Curry
2 lb. Chicken
2 Tbs. peanut oil, separate uses
1 large yellow onion, chopped
½ tsp. Kosher salt
3 medium red potatoes, chopped
2 bay leaves
28 oz. chicken broth
1 tart apple, (Granny Smith), grated
2 cups cabbage, chopped
1 cup Japanese short grain rice
1 Tbs. coriander seeds
1 Tbs. fenugreek seeds
1 Tbs. garam masala
1 tsp. Spanish paprika
1 tsp. turmeric
3 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. flour
2 Tbs. garlic, minced
2 Tbs. ginger, minced
2 Tbs. honey
1. Cut the chicken into large bite sized pieces.
2. Brown the chicken in batches, over medium high heat, with one tablespoon of peanut oil.
Tip: The chicken will release enough fat that you should not need more oil between batches.
Tip: You are not trying to cook the chicken pieces all the way through. The goal is to get a good brown on two or three sides of the chicken pieces.
3. As the chicken is browned put the pieces in a large stew pot.
4. Without cleaning the pan, add the second tablespoon of oil and the salt to the pan. Brown the onions well.
5. Peel and chop the potatoes into large chunks.
6. Add the onions, potatoes, bay leaves and chicken broth to the stew pot.
7. Bring the pot to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.
8. Peel and grate the apple and add it to the pot.
9. Coarsely chop the cabbage and add it to the pot. Simmer for 20 minutes.
10. While the curry is simmering, put the rice in a rice steamer and set it to cook.
Tip: If you do not have a rice steamer, you should get one. If you eat rice more that once a month, there is no more useful device. You set it and forget it. No worries about scorched rice stuck to your pots or dry under cooked grains.
11. Put the coriander and fenugreek in a small, dry sauté pan and toast the seeds, over a medium heat, for 3-5 minutes.
12. Add the garam masala, paprika and turmeric to the pan and toast for one minute more.
13. Let the spices cool slightly and then grind to a fine powder.
Tip: I use a dedicated coffee grinder, but you may use a mortar and pestle.
14. Wipe the small sauté pan clean and add the butter and flour. Over a medium heat and stirring frequently, cook the roux until it is a nutty brown.
15. Add the garlic and ground spices to the roux. Cook one minute more.
16. Ladle a cup of the liquid from the stew pot into the pan of roux and stir to combine it into a smooth sauce.
17. Add the roux sauce, ginger, and honey to the pot and stir to mix well.
18. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes more, until the sauce has thickened, and serve over the steamed rice.