As mentioned above, I dry-toast the spices in a skillet first to deepen their aromas. Japanese curry (or kare, as it's called in Japan) is one of the nation's most popular convenience and comfort foods. These giant cookies aren't for the faint of heart. You could just as easily use beef, selecting a cut that's suitable for stewing, or even pork. To be fair, Japanese curry was just one of her targets. Once the vegetables are tender and beginning to turn golden, it's time to add the liquid. I'm not sure what tricks Kitchen Nankai uses to get their curry sauce as dark as it is, but I suspect a deeply browned roux is one of the keys. What we can also say with some certainty is that at some point in the 18th century, the British began to incorporate an Indian-inspired spice blend that they called "curry powder" into their cooking. It is often eaten with bagoong (shrimp paste), sometimes spiced with chili, and sprinkled with calamansi juice. The first step here is to sear the meat until it's browned, then transfer it to a plate while you sauté the vegetables. Homemade Japanese Curry Rice (Kare Raisu), These Smothered Turkey Wings Make Their Own Delicious Gravy, The Best Part About Mexican-Style Burritos Is You Eat More Than One, Why I Only Buy Whole Chickens (and You Can, Too! For my blend, I decided to mirror the S&B breakdown only insofar as turmeric was the number-one ingredient, but I punched up the cumin for more funk, added significantly more black pepper for warm heat, and included a more generous dose of chili pepper for more robust spice. Water is one choice, but it's a missed opportunity to reinforce and deepen flavor. He spent nearly a year working on organic farms in Europe, where he harvested almonds and Padron peppers in Spain, shepherded a flock of more than 200 sheep in Italy, and made charcuterie in France. My biggest clue came on the side of a tin of S&B curry powder, one of the most popular Japanese brands. Now, I won't go as far as Madhur Jaffrey in condemning Japanese curry. All products linked here have been independently selected by our editors. "The Japanese, who are probably the world's greatest culinary aesthetes, don't hesitate to serve a greenish-yellow glutinous mess over their rice and label it 'curry.'" To me, they were as perfectly tame as curry could ever be, which is to say, perfectly forgettable. Some comments may be held for manual review. Some HTML is OK: link, strong, em. It mostly confirmed what the S&B tin was already telling me, though Just Hungry had found a Japanese-language source with the approximate percentage of each spice used in S&B, which they translated into English. The most popular way to serve it is spooned into a bowl with a generous mound of warm short-grain rice, making what the Japanese call kare raisu, "curry rice.". To bring out their flavor even more, I toasted most of the spices in a dry skillet before grinding them to a powder in a spice grinder. When not working on, thinking about, cooking and eating food, he blows off steam (and calories) as an instructor of capoeira, the Afro-Brazilian martial art. [Photographs: Vicky Wasik unless otherwise noted]. Beef Kare kare Recipe is made from peanut sauce with a variety of vegetables, stewed oxtail, beef, and occasionally offal or tripe. The ingredient list on the tin of S&B was the most enlightening for my endeavor. Those percentages underscored even further just how mild these Japanese spice blends can be, with upwards of 90% of the spices in the mix made up of the mildest ones. The unusual ingredients in the recipe can all be found on Amazon; shrimp paste, Mama Sita’s Kare-Kare mix, and Annatto Seeds. My mission upon returning home was to make a Japanese curry that had all the classic trappings—tender morsels of meat, chunks of silky potato, sweet bits of carrot, and green peas—in a sauce that was warm and gentle, cradled in a subtle sweetness, but barking with freshly ground spices, edged with bitterness and prickling heat. I opted for chicken here, using boneless, skinless thighs, since they handle prolonged cooking much better than the white meat does. At the root of her disdain was the question of curry itself, and what it is. Beyond that, you can go for full-blown space-food ease in the form of premade curries packed in NASA-style retort pouches: Simply heat, then squeeze the contents, often already studded with cooked vegetables, onto rice. A Japanese curry at Kitchen Nankai, a lunch counter in Tokyo. Diminutive burritos as they're made in Sononra, Mexico. Green peas can go in right at the end, just long enough to warm them through. Instead of ground ginger, I opted for grated fresh, to deliver far more zip and zest. [Photograph: Daniel Gritzer]. The apple, or another sweet component like it, is something a lot of kare recipes call for, and it's partly responsible for that accessibly sweet flavor that's so common to Japanese curry. If you see something not so nice, please, report an inappropriate comment. My conversion came at a narrow lunch counter called Kitchen Nankai in Jinbocho, a Tokyo neighborhood famous for its bookstore-lined streets. Given that I had pushed my spice profile in a more aggressive direction, that base note of fruity sweetness was even more important here. Oxtail Kare-kare is a traditional Filipino dish, every Filipino family has their own version of this dish. Post whatever you want, just keep it seriously about eats, seriously. That changed after I visited the country last year. But, given Japan's love of its version of curry—or kare, as the Japanese call it—it can't just be dismissed. Cooking spices in a fat is a technique that's sometimes called "blooming," and not only does it make the spice flavor more complex, it also infuses the fat with the spices. I'm always out to prove myself wrong, so one of my goals on that trip was to find a Japanese kare that could make me truly love it. By 1747, curry had made its first appearance in an English cookbook, Hannah Glasse's The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy. I will admit, though, that I was less than impressed with my first tastes of Japanese curry. It's this customization that makes the homemade version worthwhile. You could simplify it by paring down the number of components, or change their proportions to suit your tastes. And thus Madhur Jaffrey, in An Invitation to Indian Cooking, cut down Japanese curry with the swiftness of a samurai sword. But when you take all the components into your own hands, it's a kare with enough flavor and personality to silence any doubters. That's a topic worthy of a deeper discussion, but we can briefly say that "curry," as the term is used outside India, does not have much meaning there. It's one of the nation's most popular comfort foods, belonging to a class of dishes called yoshoku—Western foods that the Japanese have adopted, and have at times heavily adapted, but still don't consider to be inherently Japanese. I could see that turmeric made up the largest portion of the mix, followed by coriander seed and then fenugreek—the spice used to flavor artificial pancake syrup, famously responsible for New York City's mysterious maple syrup odor about 10 years ago. The holy grail in this dish is a combination of both chicken stock and dashi, which together add a meaty richness and also an unmistakable Japanese essence to the dish. I use a simple combo of diced onion and carrot, leaving out the celery and garlic that often join those aromatic vegetables, since I decided I didn't want them in this particular dish. (That's not to say no one in Japan uses them in their curries—I'm sure plenty of people do.). If only every turkey could say the same. ), The Pressure Cooker Makes Rich Chicken Chile Verde in Under 30 Minutes. Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest recipes and tips! Her goal was to introduce a more nuanced idea of Indian cooking to people whose familiarity didn't go far beyond a dusty old spice tin. There, the cooks heaped rice and shredded cabbage on a large plate, set a sliced fried pork cutlet on top, then ladled a black lagoon of steaming curry sauce all over it. As you can see, it's a spice profile that leans light, floral, and sweet. If you're not interested in that, you might as well grab a tin of the premade stuff off a Japanese-market shelf. At this point, I cut up the chicken and add it back to the pot, along with pieces of potato and finely grated or minced apple. I knew I could make my own, from scratch, calibrating the spices exactly as I wanted them and deepening the flavor as much as I pleased. The basic technique would be largely the same, except for the cooking time, which would be longer for beef or pork. I didn't leave with just burning lips, though. The advantage of a roux is that you can toast the flour to whatever degree you want, altering its flavor more and more the darker it gets. Beyond that, I rounded it all out with a range of spices and flavorings, from dried orange peel to star anise and cinnamon. Learn more in the Comment Policy section of our Terms of Use page. Clearly not. She was on a specific mission at a specific time when she tore it down. There is no Indian or South Asian spice blend known as "curry," nor a dish that goes by that name. Regardless of the minor variations families may bring to the dish, it always features a thick peanut sauce. Frying them in the roux helps develop their flavor even more. The most important thing to remember about this spice mix is that you don't need to replicate mine exactly. To finish the curry, simply stir in the roux, then simmer until the broth has thickened. It's this more generic conception of curry, and the powdered convenience product that fuels it, that leads us back to Japanese curry. I also left with a new sense of just how much of a range of flavor is possible in Japanese curry without betraying the essence of the dish. She directed her broadside equally at British, American, Chinese, and French renditions of curry, all of which feature a generic and often stale blend of Indian-esque spices. This perennial Filipino favorite usually starts with a base of oxtails, beef stew cuts, pork hocks or tripe. There's no right or wrong here; they're just not flavors I tend to associate with Japanese curry. We reserve the right to delete off-topic or inflammatory comments. As I promised in my adobong talong post, here is, although a few days late, my take on kare-kare.. I make my roux in a small pot on the side while the rest of the stew cooks—because this is a stew at heart. (The link to the original source in Japanese is no longer working.) Meat variants may include goat meat, chicken or rarely fish. Rich, tender, and covered in gravy. It was an entirely different Japanese curry from ones I'd had before: darker, more bitter, and spicier, without the sweet and soft easiness of so many others. While it didn't show exact quantities, it did at least list the spices in order of quantity. Some recipes for Japanese curry call for cornstarch as a thickener, but many others use a classic roux of flour cooked in butter or another fat. That's a useful step, given that some of the flavor and aroma molecules in spices are fat-soluble. Chicken stock is a better idea, but I wasn't satisfied with it alone. The first and most important step in coming up with my own recipe for Japanese curry was to develop a spice mix. We may earn a commission on purchases, as described in our affiliate policy. Once the flour has reached a deep caramel brown, I add my spice blend. These are the crispiest, most flavorful roast potatoes you'll ever make.