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
- 1½ carrots
- 3 Yukon gold potatoes (Tip: Russet potatoes would break down too easily)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1½ lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (you can also use pork or beef chuck roast; don't use beef stew meat as it won't get tender)
- ⅛ tsp kosher salt (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)
For the Curry Sauce
- 3 cups Chicken Stock/Broth (homemade or store bought) (you can use beef stock for beef, or vegetable stock/broth; for a lower-sodium option, you can use water, or half stock and half water)
- 1 package Japanese curry roux (7-8 oz or 200-230 g for 6 servings; or use 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)
For the Garnish
- fukujinzuke (red pickled daikon) (optional)
- Gather all the ingredients.
To Prepare the Ingredients
- Cut the onions in half and cut each half into 5 wedges.
- Peel the carrots and cut into bite-sized pieces. I use a Japanese cutting technique called “rangiri.” Cut the carrot diagonally while rotating it a quarter turn between cuts. This not only results in an attractive shape that is good for stews and simmered dishes, it also gives the pieces more surface area to absorb seasonings quicker. Tip: You can cut the vegetables slightly bigger to avoid a mushy texture.
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters. Soak them in water to remove the starch.
- Mince the garlic and grate the ginger.
- Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces (I use a Japanese cutting technique called “sogigiri”). Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
To Cook the Curry
- Press the Sauté button on your Instant Pot (I use a 6 QT Instant Pot) or preheat a stovetop pressure cooker over medium heat. When the pot is hot, add 1 Tbsp oil.
- Then, add the sliced onions, minced garlic, and ginger.
- Add the chicken to the pot and mix until just coated with oil.
- Add the carrots and potatoes to the pot and mix well.
- Add the chicken broth and use a spatula to press down the meat and vegetables into the liquid. Then, place the curry roux blocks (I combine ½ mild and ½ medium spicy packaged roux) on top of the other ingredients and DO NOT MIX! Otherwise, the roux may sink to the bottom of the pot and burn while cooking. If you use non-solidified homemade roux (that you just made), add it after pressure cooking is done. If you're using solidified homemade roux, place the cubes on top of the ingredients and do not mix.
- Cover and lock the lid. Make sure the Instant Pot's steam release handle points to Sealing and not Venting. Press the Keep Warm/Cancel button on the Instant Pot to stop sautéing. Then, press the Meat/Stew button to switch to pressure cooking. Press the "minus" button to change the cooking time to 15 minutes.
- For a Stovetop Pressure Cooker: Close and lock the lid. Set the pressure level to high. Heat the pot on the stovetop over medium-high heat until you've reached high pressure. Then, reduce the heat to medium low to maintain high pressure, and cook for 15 minutes.
- When it is finished cooking, the Instant Pot will switch automatically to the Keep Warm mode. Slide the steam release handle to Venting to let out steam until the float valve drops down, OR let the pressure release naturally (this takes about 15 minutes).
- Unlock the lid. (If you're using homemade curry roux, add it to the pot now and heat on Sauté mode for an additional 5 minutes until the roux is well blended into the stew.) Add the ketchup and soy sauce. Mix well, checking one last time that all the curry roux has dissolved.
- Serve on individual plates over steamed Japanese rice with fukujinzuke (red daikon pickles) on the side.
- Keep the leftovers in a glass airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer for a month. The texture of the potatoes will change in the freezer, so remove them before freezing. Defrost the frozen curry in the refrigerator for 24 hours and reheat in a pot to serve. When you reheat, add ¼-½ cup (60-120 ml) water to dilute the curry sauce.