Japanese Curry Rice or Karē Raisu (カレーライス) is extremely popular dish for all ages in Japan and it is considered one of the country’s national dishes along with ramen and gyoza! This beef curry dish takes a bit of preparation but the end result is super delicious!
Curry was introduced to Japan by the British in late 1800s in the form of curry powder, and it was adapted to Japanese taste. The flavor of Japanese curry is quite different from Indian or Thai curry. Japanese curry is thicker, milder, and sweeter and always served with rice. We don’t have the choices of yellow, red, or green curry like Thai curry, but instead there are usually three degrees of spiciness indicating mild, medium hot, or hot.
This recipe uses a box Japanese curry roux, which can be found at Asian supermarkets or an Asian food isle at your local grocery stores.
All the curry spices are packed in a form of solid roux resembling a block of baking chocolate. To avoid “out of box” taste, mix up 2-3 different brands of roux and add your own condiments (e.g. Worcestershire Sauce) to enhance the flavor for the curry sauce. If you want to make curry roux base from scratch, I have the recipe for homemade roux.
The recipe I shared today is for beef curry. Japanese curry usually includes a protein of your choice (usually beef, chicken, pork, or seafood), onions, potatoes, and carrots. For vegetarian option, you can add firm tofu right before you serve just to heat it through.
Here’s the video to show you how to make beef curry.
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- 3 large onions (2 lb 13 oz, 1.3 kg)
- 3 carrots (8 oz, 230 g)
- 1 russet potato (9.5 oz, 270 g)
- 8 mushrooms (9.2 oz, 260 g)
- 2 lb. (907g) lean beef stew meat
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil (1 Tbsp. for beef, 1 Tbsp. for onion)
- 2 Tbsp. butter (1 Tbsp. for beef, 1 Tbsp. for onion)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 inch (2.5 cm) ginger, grated
- 1 Tbsp. curry powder
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste (or ketchup)
- 1 cup red wine
- 8 cups (2 QT, 1.9 L) beef broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 box (7-8.4 oz, 200-240g) Japanese curry roux (or make homemade roux)
- 2 Tbsp. milk
- 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ apple (I use Fuji apple) (optional)
- Fukujinzuke (pickled daikon, eggplant, cucumber, lotus root) to serve (optional)
- Cut the onion into thin slices. Cut the carrot diagonally while rotating it a quarter between cuts (in Japanese we call this cutting technique “rangiri”).
- Halve the potato, and then cut each piece into quarters. Soak in water for 15 minutes to remove the starch.
- Clean the mushrooms with a pastry brush (don’t wash mushrooms) and slice them.
- Cut the beef into 1 ½ inch cubes and sprinkle salt and pepper. Coat the meat with the flour.
- In a cast iron skillet, heat oil and butter on high heat. Add the beef but do not crowd the skillet. Do a second batch if necessary. Cook beef until brown.
- In a large heavy bottomed pot or large pot, heat the butter on medium heat and add the onion. Add the olive oil and stir to coat the onion with the oil. Add 1 tsp. salt after 10 minutes and sauté the onion until it’s soft and translucent.
- Add garlic, ginger, curry powder, and tomato paste and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add the beef and the wine and let the alcohol evaporate.
- Add the vegetable and pour the beef broth until it covers the vegetables. Cover with the lid and bring it to a boil.
- When boiling, skim off the scum and fat from the soup. After skimming, I dip the fine mesh in a measuring cup to clean. It’s easy to remove the scum/fat from the fine mesh this way.
- Add bay leaf, cover with the lid but leaving slightly ajar, and simmer until vegetables are tender.
- Once in a while, skim the broth. Add the rest of beef stock (if you have any leftover and if necessary).
- Using a ladle and with fork/chopsticks, dissolve the roux. If the curry is too thick for your taste, add water to dilute. From this point, stir often and be careful not to burn the curry!
- Add milk and Worcestershire sauce. Grate the apple to add a hint of sweetness. Simmer uncovered on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the curry becomes thick. Serve the curry with Japanese rice on the side topped with fukujinzuke.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 15, 2011 and has been updated with new pictures/video and revised recipe instructions.