Made with beef, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and curry roux, this savory and hearty Japanese beef curry makes a fabulous introduction for new curry eaters. Adapted to Japanese taste, it’s milder, sweeter with a stew-like texture. Even children enjoy it thoroughly! You have to give this easy recipe a try.
Japanese Curry Rice or Karē Raisu (カレーライス) is an 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 Japanese beef curry dish takes a bit of preparation but the end result is super delicious!
Watch How to Make Japanese Beef Curry
Savory and hearty Japanese beef curry made with beef, potatoes, carrots, mushroom, and Japanese curry roux.
Curry was introduced to Japan by the British in the 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 aisle 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 the 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 a curry roux base from scratch, I have the recipe for the Homemade Curry Roux.
Japanese curry usually includes a protein of your choice (usually beef, chicken, pork, or seafood), onions, potatoes, and carrots. For a vegetarian option, you can add firm tofu right before you serve just to heat it through. The recipe I shared today is for Japanese beef curry.
Just like a comforting pot of stew, you don’t need an expensive cut of meat for Japanese beef curry because of its long simmering time. One of the important steps is to brown the beef chunks to bring out the flavor. Once the sauce is thickened, you will be rewarded with a delicious curry with tender pieces of meat in a rich, velvety sauce. It’s absolutely heaven when enjoyed with steamed rice. This is also a freezer-friendly recipe so you can make a big batch to enjoy later.
If you want to skip the simmering time for curry, you can try out my Pressure Cooker Japanese Curry recipe.
If you are interested in other Curry recipes, check out 15 Japanese Curry Recipes You’ll Love.
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
Japanese Beef Curry
- 3 onions (2.5 lb, 1.1 kg)
- 3 carrots (8 oz, 230 g)
- 1 russet potato (9.5 oz, 270 g; use 2 Yukon gold potatoes if you want to keep the shape of the potatoes)
- 8 mushrooms (9.2 oz, 260 g)
- 2 lb boneless chuck roast (I recommend using chuck roast for better quality. You can use stew beef, as it's slightly cheaper, but it's made up of bits and pieces that were left over after the prettier chuck roasts had been carved so the meat is not as tender)
- kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour (plain flour)
- 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 knob ginger (1", 2.5 cm; grated; about 1 tsp)
- 1 Tbsp Japanese curry powder
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste (or ketchup)
- 1 cup red wine
- 8 cups beef stock (2 QT; beef stock is seasoned (salted); therefore, for less sodium intake, use 4 cups/1 L beef stock + 4 cups/900 ml water or use even more water. Remember that premade curry roux has salt in it.)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 box Japanese curry roux (7-8.4 oz, 200-240g) (for my homemade roux recipe, click here)
- 2 Tbsp milk
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ apple (I used Fuji apple; add more for sweetness; Or use 1 Tbsp honey, mango chutney, etc)
- furkujinzuke (red pickled daikon) (to serve, optional)
- Gather all the ingredients.
To Prepare Ingredients
- Cut the onion into thin slices. Cut the carrot diagonally while rotating it a quarter between cuts (we call this cutting technique “rangiri” in Japanese).
- Cut the potato in half, and then cut each piece into quarters. Soak in water for 15 minutes to remove the starch.
- Clean the mushrooms (I use a pastry brush and avoid washing mushrooms as they absorb moisture. However, it's okay to quickly rinse them.). Then cut them into thin slices.
- Cut the beef into 1 ½ inch (3.8 cm) cubes and lightly sprinkle salt and pepper. Then lightly coat the meat with flour.
To Cook the Curry
- In a cast-iron skillet, heat 1 Tbsp oil and 1 Tbsp butter on medium-high heat. Add the beef in the pan but do not crowd the skillet as you would end up "steaming" the beef. Make sure to cook in 2-4 batches. Sear the beef on both sides until brown and crusty, about 8-10 minutes, then flip (don't touch till then). The meat will release itself when the surface is seared nicely. Transfer the seared meat to a plate and work on the next batch.
- In a large heavy-bottomed pot or large pot, heat 1 Tbsp butter on medium heat and add the onion. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil and stir to coat the onion with the oil. Add ¼ tsp salt and sauté the onion until tender and translucent, about 20 minutes. If you have time, you can spend more time until the onions are caramelized, about 30-40 minutes.
- Add garlic, ginger, curry powder, and tomato paste and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add the beef and the wine and stir, letting the alcohol evaporate, for 3 minutes.
- Add the vegetable and mushrooms and pour the beef broth (and water) just enough to cover the ingredients. Cover with the lid and bring it to a boil.
- Once boiling, skim off the scum and fat from the soup. I prepare a 2-cup measuring cup with water in it and clean my fine-mesh skimmer in the water. It’s easy to remove the scum/fat from the fine mesh this way.
- Add bay leaf, cover with the tight-fitting lid. Simmer (on the lowest heat) until the meat is tender, about 2 hours.
- Occasionally, skim the broth to clean the surface of the broth. Make sure the ingredients are under the broth, and if not, add the leftover beef broth (or water), just enough to cover the ingredients.
- Once the ingredients are all tender, turn off the heat and add the curry roux. With fork/chopsticks, let 2-3 pieces of curry roux dissolved completely inside the ladle and then release to the broth. Then add another few pieces. Adjust the amount of the curry roux to your taste (you may not need to use all the roux). That way, the undissolved roux won't end up in the broth. If the curry is too thick for your taste, add water to dilute. From this point, simmer on the lowest heat and stir often and be careful not to burn the curry!
- Add milk, Worcestershire sauce, and grated apple. Mix thoroughly and simmer till hot. If the curry is too soupy (probably you added too much broth/water), simmer, uncovered (no lid), stirring occasionally.
- Serve the curry with Japanese steamed rice and top with fukujinzuke (pickles).
- Remove the potatoes from the curry as they will change the texture once frozen. Freeze the leftover curry in an airtight glass container and freeze up to 1-2 months. Defrost 24 hours in the refrigerator and reheat in the pot.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 15, 2011 and has been updated with new pictures/video and revised recipe instructions.