Adapted from a Just One Cookbook recipe
Wife Jan is teaching the Anthropology of Food this semester. She had gotten to the English introducing curry to the Japanese and she thought “Japanese curry, yum!” The Japanese have made this dish their own—it is much milder and sweeter than an Indian curry.
I have made my own version of this dish, but this time I wanted to make an “authentic” version. Whenever I am looking for any Japanese recipes, I start at Just One Cookbook. I pared down her recipe, because I am only feeding three and I am not overly fond of Japanese curry—although Jan and daughter Eilene could live on it.
While some Japanese housewives make their own roux, most use commercial Japanese curry roux—look carefully at the packaging as they come in both hot and medium versions. This “instant curry” mix comes in a tray as a solid block or tablespoon-sized cubes of spice and thickener. You break off enough and add it during the last few minutes of cooking to thicken and spice the curry to your liking.
Note: You may top your curry with a soft boiled egg—Nami uses a simple boiled egg, but I decided to use a seasoned ramen egg—and many Japanese serve a Japanese version of chutney— Fukujinzuke—on the side.
Japanese Chicken Curry チキンカレー
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
½ tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper, cracked
1 cup short grained Japanese rice
1 medium onion
1 medium carrots
½ tsp. Kosher salt
1 large Yukon gold potatoes
1 Tbs. canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Granny Smith or Fuji apple
1 can (14.5 oz.) chicken broth
1 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. ketchup
1 Tbs. soy sauce
½ Tbs. ginger, cut into slivers
½ box Japanese curry roux (1 box = 7 oz or 200 g)
Fukujinzuke (red pickled daikon)
Note: While the curry is a fairly quick dish to prepare, if you are adding the egg and pickle toppings you should start them several hours before dinner.
1. Cut the chicken into small bite sized pieces and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
2. Place the chicken into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
3. Rinse the rice and set it to steam 30-40 minutes before serving.
Tip: A rice steamer is very useful. You can prepare the rice and place it in the steamer with the appropriate amount of water. You may then as you are working with your other dishes just reach over, press a button, and your rice will be ready when you are ready for it.
Note: If you do not have one, you may use the original pot to cook your rice. However, if you make rice more than twice a month it is really worth the connivance—set it and forget it. You may buy a small one for less than $20.
4. Cut the onions into ½ inch pieces.
5. Peel and cut the carrot into ½ inch chunks.
6. Dice the potato into ½ inch chunks.
Tip: I leave the skin on, but you may peel the potato if you prefer.
7. Place the potatoes in a pan, covered in cool water, to keep them from turning brown.
8. Peel and core the apple and place it in the same pan as the potatoes—also to keep them from turning brown.
Note: Have a box grater handy as you will eventually be grating the apple.
9. Put the oil in a large sauté pan over a medium high heat.
10. Sauté the onions and carrots with the salt until they are translucent, about five minutes.
11. Add the potatoes and continue cooking for another five minutes.
12. Pull the vegetables to the edges of the pan and sauté the garlic until fragrant, about one minute.
12. Grate the apple into the pan and stir the apple and garlic into the vegetables.
13. Add the chicken to the pan and continue cooking until all of the chicken surfaces turn white.
14. Stir in the chicken, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, and ginger.
15. Cover the pan and simmer until the chicken has almost cooked through, about another 5 minutes.
16. Stir in as much of the curry roux as you need to thicken and season your sauce to your liking.
Tip: For this dish I used half of the package, but you may prefer a thicker and spicier curry.
17. Cover and simmer the curry for five more minutes, to meld and thicken.
18. Place some rice in an individual bowl and pour some of the curry over or next to the rice.
19. Top the Japanese curry with the soft boiled egg halves and serve the fukujinzuke on the side to be added as desired by your diners.
Note: The refrigerated ramen eggs will be cold. You may warm them by placing the plastic bag in a bowl of hot water for 2-3 minutes. This will take the chill off the eggs without cooking their yolk any further. You may then cut the eggs and then use them as toppings.