This Japanese-style curry recipe is delicious and comforting, with chicken, root vegetables, apple, and miso simmered until thickened, served with rice.
Japanese Curry Recipe
Are you a curry lover? Curry is such a special dish for spicy food lovers, as there are so many versions from different parts of the world, each highlighting different flavors and ranges of heat.
Curry originated from the Indian subcontinent, but has since spread around the world, spawning more and more local variations, including Japan.
Yes, Japanese Curry is tremendously popular in Japan, and it just may become your new favorite as well.
About Japanese Curry
Japanese Curry is a distinctive variation of curry, similar to but different from Indian curry or Thai curry. The Japanese version of curry focuses less on heat and offers milder, sweeter flavors.
It was introduced to Japan by the British in the 1870s with British-style curry powder, where it was widely considered European, but didn't gain popularity until it was adopted by soldiers of the Japanese army and navy as the ideal mess hall food.
It quickly spread to home cooking where it became hugely popular, and has since taken over the nation.
Japanese curry is a bit different today than it was in the 1870s, spawning many variations. Recipes vary from cook to cook, and you can find it anywhere from restaurants, schools, and homes, with variations like Chicken Katsu Curry, Kaigun Curry (the Curry of the Japanese Navy), Miso Curry, and others.
This version is a mix of styles from the cookbook, "Japanese Soul Cooking", by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat, which I definitely recommend. I make mine from scratch, rather than using instant roux cubes.
Let's talk about how to make Japanese curry, shall we?
Japanese Curry Ingredients
The full ingredients list with measurements is listed in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Vegetable Oil.
- Boneless Chicken. I'm using chicken thigh, though you can use chicken breast, or a mix.
- Vegetables. Onion, carrot, potato, garlic, ginger.
- Seasonings. Curry powder (see notes), garam masala, salt and black pepper.
- Chicken Stock.
- Soy Sauce.
- Miso. I'm using red miso, though you can use white miso. It's the "secret ingredient" for unique flavor to your curry.
- Cooked White Rice. For serving. You can use your favorite, such as short grain rice or medium grain, to your preference.
Cutting Tip - Rangiri Style
When chopping your carrots or other unevenly sized root vegetables, consider using the Rangiri Style of cutting. This is a Japanese technique that creates more surface area for the vegetables to come into contact with the pan, allowing them to cook faster.
You simply roll the root over a quarter turn after each cut, resulting in wedge-shaped vegetables.
How to Make Japanese Curry - the Recipe Method
Cook the Chicken. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven to medium heat. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until mostly cooked through. Remove the chicken and set aside.
Cook the Vegetables. Add the onion and carrot. Cook for 3-4 minutes to sweat the onions.
Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute, or until the garlic blooms.
Bloom the Spices. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the curry powder and garam masala. Cook for 30 seconds to bloom the spices.
Simmer the Curry. Add the potato, grated apple, and chicken stock, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Make the Japanese Curry Roux. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir to form a roux. Stir for 5 minutes to cook off the flour.
Miso and Extra Spices. Stir in the remaining curry powder, 1 cup of simmering liquid from the curry pot, along with the miso. Simmer the curry sauce for 1 minute.
Simmer and Thicken. Pour the roux mixture from the pan into the curry pot and simmer another 20 minutes to flavor and thicken.
Serve over rice and enjoy!
Boom! Done! Your Japanese curry is ready to serve. Looks wonderful, doesn't it? Perfect for the curry lover in you.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Like most curries, Japanese curry is extremely customizable! Consider other vegetables, such as daikon, burdock root, or zucchini.
- Instead of chicken, try it with pork, beef, lamb, fish, or vegetables only.
- For a flavor variation, consider adding dashi powder, bonito flakes, fish sauce, or HonDashi bonito soup stock for a Japanese flair.
Serving Japanese Curry
Japanese curry is typically served over rice, and eaten with a spoon, not with chopsticks. It can also be served with noodles or with curry bread.
It is often served with popular condiments as well, including fukujin-zuke (pickled cucumber, daikon, and ginger) or rakkyo (pickled shallots).
Mild. Japanese curry focuses less on the heat than British, Indian, or Thai curries. It often includes sweeter elements, like apples, pears, or other fruits.
However, you will still get a wonderful burst of spicy flavor from the curry powder and garam masala. You can easily include other chili powders or hotter curry powder to your preference.
Japanese curry will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator in a sealed container. You can easily warm it up in a pot on the stovetop to enjoy again.
You can also freeze it for 2-3 months.
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy this Japanese curry recipe. Let me know if you make it. I'd love to hear how it turned out for you, and if you decided to spice it up!
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Japanese Curry Recipe
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 pound chicken thighs chopped (or use chicken breast, or a mix)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 medium carrot chopped
- 1 pound yellow potato peeled and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 small apple peeled and grated
- 5 tablespoons curry powder divided
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or more to taste
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- ¼ cup red miso or use white miso, to your preference
- Cooked white rice for serving
- Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven to medium heat. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until mostly cooked through. Remove the chicken and set aside.
- Add the onion and carrot. Cook for 3-4 minutes to sweat the onions.
- Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute, or until the garlic blooms.
- Stir in 2 tablespoons of the curry powder and garam masala. Cook for 30 seconds to bloom the spices.
- Add the potato, grated apple, and chicken stock, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir to form a roux. Stir for 5 minutes to cook off the flour.
- Stir in the remaining curry powder, 1 cup of simmering liquid from the curry pot, along with the miso. Simmer for 1 minute.
- Pour the roux mixture from the pan into the curry pot and simmer another 20 minutes to flavor and thicken.
- Serve over rice and enjoy!