Learn how to make Japanese Curry Roux from scratch. Only five ingredients! This easy recipe will help you cook up many delicious pots of Japanese curry.
Japanese curry (also known as Curry Rice/Kare Raisu/カレーライス) is the ultimate comfort dish. It is the staple meal for many Japanese households because it’s so easy to make at home.
The convenience comes from the readily made Japanese Curry Sauce Mix or curry roux (カレールー), which allows you to cook up the stew-like curry consists of meat & vegetables in the shortest time.
What is Japanese Curry Roux?
The curry roux in block form was first introduced by S&B Foods in 1956. It refers to a solidified mixture of sauce, made with fat, flour, and curry spices as the base flavor.
These days we can even find many varieties of instant Japanese curry roux in the Asian aisle at the American supermarkets.
The boxed curry roux often comes in a distinctive block that resembles a thick chocolate bar, where you break off individual cubes for the portion you need to make. Some of the common brands include S&B’s Golden Curry, House’s Vermont Curry, Java Curry, and Torokeru Curry.
Homemade Japanese Curry Roux
Although the boxed stuff may spare you some time in the kitchen, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to make your own Japanese Curry Roux at home. And just like all curries, curry roux is best made from scratch. The other good reasons for homemade roux?
- No MSG, artificial flavors and other food additives that are commonly found in boxed mixes.
- You can customize the flavor, spice level and thickness to your preferred taste each time you make it.
How to Make Japanese Curry Roux
Ingredients You’ll Need
My recipe for Japanese curry roux requires only five ingredients that you will have in the pantry. They are:
- Unsalted butter
- All-purpose/plain flour
- S&B Japanese curry powder
- Garam masala
- Cayenne pepper (optional for spice)
You can use salted butter for making the curry roux. If you do, adjust the amount of salt in the curry recipe you’re making. I use unsalted butter and add salt to taste as I cook.
Why Do We Combine Curry Powder and Garam Masala?
I have made homemade curry roux with just the S&B Japanese curry powder in the past, and it works great.
However, I wanted to make my own curry roux blend without having to buy all kinds of spices that I won’t necessarily use for my daily cooking. One day in my pantry, I found a bag of garam masala I purchased from my local Indian grocery store and I just mixed that into my curry roux. Garam masala added a wonderful fragrance and depth to the roux!
Since then (for the past 10 years), I’ve been using these two spice blends as my base for my curry roux. You can play around with the spices I listed on my pantry page for Japanese curry powder. Make your own blend for fun!
You’re probably wondering about the curry powder and garam masala, so I’ll cover these topics later in the post.
Overview: Cooking Steps
The roux is made with butter and flour that helps to thicken the broth. For the curry roux, we start by cooking the butter and flour mixture for a long time until it turns brown, somewhat chocolate color, for about 25-30 minutes.
When you add the curry powder, garam masala, and cayenne pepper to the roux, you’ll get delicious homemade curry roux.
The butter gives a rich sweet flavor and the toasted flour brings nuttiness. Feel free to modify the amount of the spices to your preference.
How to Store Homemade Japanese Curry Roux
The roux can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for a month or in the freezer for 3-4 months. I recommend cutting the block of roux into cubes. Then, you can add pieces as you need in your curry recipe.
Japanese Curry Powder
The most notable Japanese curry powder is the S&B brand that comes in a tiny red can. It has a slightly sweet and rounded flavor, and it is the most common curry powder that many Japanese homes and restaurants use in making their curry dishes.
You can use other brands of curry powder. However, to achieve the authentic Japanese flavor, I strongly recommend using S&B Curry Powder for making the homemade curry roux. These days you can buy the S&B Curry Powder on Amazon.
Can’t find S&B Curry Powder?
To learn how to make your own Homemade Japanese Curry Powder, visit this pantry page.
What is Garam Masala?
Garam masala is a warming spice with a sharp and pungent flavor and this spice blend is used to add flavor and color to dishes. Depending on spice shops or home recipes, the blend varies. It typically contains:
- Cumin – nice to add more for curry
- Mustard seeds
- Red chili pepper
Some of the spices overlap with Japanese curry powder and that’s okay. You can always tweak your own homemade curry powder blend as you like through trial and error.
What to Make with Japanese Curry Roux
With the homemade curry roux, you will be eager to start cooking a myriad of Japanese curry dishes at any time. Here are some delicious recipes you can make with homemade curry roux:
- Japanese Chicken Curry
- Instant Pot Japanese Curry
- Soup Curry
- Japanese Beef Curry
- Katsu Curry
- Curry Udon
- Japanese Seafood Curry
- Cold Curry Udon
How To Make Japanese Curry Roux
- 3.5 oz unsalted butter (7 Tbsp)
- 3.5 oz all-purpose flour (plain flour) (¾ cup; use gluten-free flour for GF)
- 4 Tbsp Japanese curry powder (use S&B Curry Powder for that familiar Japanese curry flavor; you can buy it on Amazon)
- 1 Tbsp garam masala (can't find it? You can skip and add more curry powder, or try adding the other spices I mentioned in the blog post that you may have)
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional; for a spicy kick)
To Make a Brown Roux
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium-low heat (you can also cut the butter into small pieces first).
- When the butter is completely melted, add the flour. With a blunt-end wooden spatula, stir to combine the butter and flour.
- Soon, the butter and flour will fuse and swell. Cook for 20-25 minutes over low heat. Stir constantly because the roux burns easily. If the roux starts separating, switch to a whisk and mix vigorously.
- The roux will turn golden brown. You can even go for a bit darker color (watch my video).
To Make the Curry Roux
- Add the curry powder, garam masala, and cayenne pepper (optional) to the roux.
- Cook and stir for 30 seconds and remove from the heat. You can use the roux immediately if you'd like (see the instructions below).
To Shape the Roux into a Block (This is an overnight process)
- Transfer the roux to a glass or metal container lined with parchment paper. Let it cool completely on the kitchen counter, then refrigerate to solidify overnight.
- On the following day, take out the curry block from the container. If the curry block gets stuck to the container, release it with a butter knife or an offset spatula.
- With a sharp knife, cut the block into eight 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes. Store the cubes in a glass container.
- Store the container with curry cubes in the refrigerator for 1 month and in the freezer for 3-4 months. Use them soon before they lose their flavor and aroma.
To Use in a Curry Recipe
- Very important! Please do not forget to season your final dish with salt, as the homemade roux is not salted. I usually add about 1 Tbsp salt to the broth (ranges from 2 tsp to 4 tsp depending on the recipe). Store-bought roux is quite salty, so you may want to add more salt to achieve a similar taste.
- Add the curry roux mixture (before solidifying) or cubes to the broth of your curry recipe (follow the recipe instructions on when to add the roux).
- How much mixture or how many cubes should we use? I think roughly 6-7 cubes are equivalent to one box of store-bought curry roux (that requires 4 cups or 1L of broth/water). Simmer over low heat for 5-10 minutes. Heat will thicken the roux.
- If the curry flavor is lacking or the curry does not thicken, add more roux. When you add meat and/or veggies, they release more moisture to the broth; therefore, you will need to adjust the amount of roux you use according to what you’re cooking.
Editor’s Note: The post was originally published on March 18, 2013. The video and new images were added in August 2018. The recipe was revised and the post was updated with new images and blog content in October 2021.