Dinner is solved on a busy weeknight with this easy yet delicious Pressure Cooker Japanese Curry.
My Instant Pot has been saving me plenty of time cooking for my family’s dinner. It has so many conveniences, but my favorite part is I am also able to cook up complex dishes like this Pressure Cooker Japanese Curry without having to sacrifice the flavors.
The actual pressure cooking time is only 15 minutes, and you don’t even have to be in the kitchen if you use an electric pressure cooker. I simply add the ingredients in the pot, set up the timer, go out for my kids’ activity, and come home for a fabulous dinner ready to eat. Who’s in?
Japanese Curry Rice カレーライス
Have you heard of Japanese curry or Curry Rice (Karē Raisu)? If not, it’s best described as mild and thick curry. Even though curry was originally from Southeast Asia, it has become one of the most popular foods in Japan enjoyed by people of all ages.
Japanese curry is always served with steamed rice, and the common ingredients include a variety of proteins (chicken, beef, pork, seafood), potatoes, onions, and carrots.
To make Thai or Indian curry, you would add the curry spices from the very beginning. However, Japanese curry is seasoned with curry roux toward the end of cooking. Until then it’s just a plain soup/stew.
What is Japanese Curry Roux?
As I mentioned earlier, Japanese curry is seasoned with curry roux. Typically made from fat and flour, roux is a type of thickening agent used for thickening soups and sauces.
Most Japanese make curry with a boxed Japanese curry roux like this (picture above). You can find different spice levels and various brands of curry roux at Japanese or Asian grocery stores. These days I can even find it in the Asian aisle at American supermarkets.
If you prefer to make curry roux from scratch and have an additional 30 minutes to spare, check out my Homemade Curry Roux recipe. All you need is flour, butter, curry powder, and additional spice.
Personalize the Store-Bought Curry with Additional Seasonings
Growing up in Japan, curry rice was a “fast food” for my family; the food that my mom made ahead of time or the previous day when she knew that she couldn’t prepare dinner in time.
I always saw my mom adding grated apples and different condiments to the curry while she was making them. She said, “If you put just the boxed curry roux, your curry will always taste the same. It will not be different from your neighbor’s curry.”
So she taught me two tricks. Use two different brands of curry roux (sometimes mix the spice level, like mild and medium spicy) and use additional seasonings.
My mom and I would use the combination of the following ingredients.
- Grated apple
- Red wine or sake
- Oyster sauce
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Tonkatsu sauce
- Soy sauce (used in this recipe)
- Ketchup (used in this recipe)
Other ingredients that my mom or I haven’t added in our curry include peanut butter, marmalade, and banana. Do you add any additional flavoring to your Japanese curry?
Pressure Cooker Japanese Curry
- 3 onions
- 1 ½ carrots
- 3 Yukon gold potatoes (Tip: Russet potatoes would break down too easily)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 ½ lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (you can also use pork and beef chuck roast. don't use stew beef as it won't get tender)
- ⅛ tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
- ⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, rice bran, canola, etc) (for cooking)
- 3 cups chicken stock/broth (You can use beef stock for beef, or vegetable stock/broth; if you're careful with sodium intake, you can use water only, or use half stock + half water)
- 1 package Japanese curry roux (7-8 oz or 200-230 g; or use all of my homemade curry roux)
- 1 Tbsp ketchup (read the blog post for add-on condiments)
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce (read the blog post for add-on condiments)
- furkujinzuke (red pickled daikon) (optional)
- Gather all the ingredients.
- Cut the onions into halves and cut the halves into 5 wedges.
- Peel the carrot and cut into bite sizes. I use a Japanese cutting technique called “Rangiri”. Cut the carrot diagonally while rotating it a quarter between cuts. This not only results in an attractive shape that is good for stews and simmered dishes but also gives the pieces bigger surface space to absorb seasonings quicker. Tip: You can cut the vegetable slightly bigger to avoid mushy texture.
- Peel the potatoes and cut into quarters. Soak in water to remove starch.
- Mince the garlic and grate ginger.
- Cut the meat into bite-size pieces (I use a Japanese cutting technique “Sogigiri”). Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Press the “Sauté” button on your Instant Pot (or a pressure cooker; I use a 6 QT Instant Pot) and heat 1 Tbsp oil.
- When the pot is hot, add the onion, minced garlic and ginger.
- Add the chicken to the pot and mix until just coated with oil.
- Add carrot and potato to the pot and mix well.
- Add 3 cups (720 ml) chicken broth and then curry roux from one box (I use ½ package mild and ½ package medium spicy). Use the spatula to push down some ingredients but keep the curry roux blocks on top and do NOT mix! If you use a homemade roux, add it after pressure cooking is done. Homemade roux is runnier and it goes to the bottom of the pot easily and can burn while cooking.
- Cover and lock the lid. Make sure the steam release handle points at “sealing” and not “venting”. Press the “Keep Warm/Cancel” button on the Instant Pot to stop sauté. Press the “meat/Stew” button to switch to the pressure cooking mode. Press “minus” button to change the cooking time to 15 minutes.
- [stove-top pressure cooker] If you’re using a stove-top pressure cooker, you won’t have the buttons to press. Just cook on high heat until high pressure is reached. Then reduce the heat to low but maintain high pressure for about 15 minutes.
- When it is finished cooking, the Instant Pot will switch automatically to a “Keep Warm” mode. Slide the steam release handle to the "Venting" position to let out steam until the float valve drops down, OR let the pressure release naturally (takes about 15 mins).
- Unlock the lid and add ketchup and soy sauce (if you use homemade curry, add it before ketchup and soy sauce. Change to "Saute" mode for additional 5 minutes until homemade curry roux blends well). Mix well and make sure all the curry roux has been dissolved. Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with Fukujinzuke (red daikon pickles).