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If you love curry, it’s time to try Japanese Seafood Curry packed with amazing flavors from the shrimp, squid, scallops, spices, and kombu dashi.
To me, one of most underrated Japanese Curry is Seafood Curry (シーフードカレー). All the delicious flavors of various seafood culminate in an amazing umami flavor to the curry. If you love beef and chicken curry but haven’t tried Japanese Seafood Curry, you have to make it today!
Watch How To Make Pressure Cooker Japanese Seafood Curry
The Key Ingredients for Japanese Seafood Curry
1. Seafood Choice
Most of the Japanese seafood curry include 2 to 3 of the following ingredients or all of them. Fish is usually not part of Japanese seafood curry (although Indian fish curry is one of my favorites!).
- Scallop or baby scallop
- Manila clams and/or mussels
I usually check out what fresh seafood the market has to offer that day to pick and choose my ingredients. For convinience, you can also use frozen seafood mix if you like all the seafood choices in the bag.
And if you use fresh clams, don’t forget to de-grit (let the clams purge sand and grit) before you cook. I recommend doing this even though the package or fish mongers say “ready to use”. I often taste sand/grit in them, and you don’t want to experience that while eating your delicious curry. I will show you how to do it on this page.
2. Stock Choice
In today’s recipe, I used kombu dashi. This is SO easy to make, and it’s the right amount of flavors for the basic stock for the Japanese seafood curry. If you plan to make the seafood curry ahead of time, soak the kombu in water overnight. It’s good to give plenty of time for umami to ooze out from the kombu.
You might wonder if you can use chicken or beef stock for this recipe. The answer is no, I do not recommend using The direct for this recipe. However, you can use/make shellfish stock. If you choose to make shellfish stock, make sure to buy shrimp with shell and head still attached (and at least 8-10 shrimp).
Simply put shrimp shell and head, chopped veggies (small bits of onion, carrot, celery), bay leaf, parsley (if you have any), and peppercorn in a pot. Pour 6 cups water and cook on low simmer (not boiling) for 30 minutes, skimming the foam often. Strain, and it’s ready to use. If you would enjoy rich and bold SEAFOOD kick in your curry, use this shellfish stock instead of kombu dashi.
3. Vegetable Choice
Onions are almost always included in Japanese curry recipes as soft and tender onion naturally sweeten the curry. If time allows, I’d even caramelize the onions. Delicious!
In Japan, seafood curry is often on the restaurant menu during the summer, and it usually includes summer vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, and bell peppers. But today, I am keeping the recipe simple for everyone.
4. Japanese Curry Roux
Supermarkets in Japan have endless selections of Japanese curry roux brands.
But for us living outside of Japan, we are lucky if we have some choices. That’s okay, it’s still convenient! Here’s how the store-bought curry roux looks like.
But for those who prefer to make homemade Japanese Curry Roux, I have a recipe for you here. The roux is pretty easy to make, and it’s MSG free. 🙂
For gluten-free curry roux, you can use gluten-free flour (thanks JOC friends for your feedback!).
“Kakushi Aji” for Japanese Seafood Curry
Kakushi Aji (隠し味) means a secret ingredient. The direct translation would be “Hidden Taste/Flavor”, and I feel like Japanese likes to say “Add this and that for kakushi aji” a lot while they are cooking. Or is it just my mom?
I think the most popular Kakushi Aji for western-style Japanese food is soy sauce. It makes me smile thinking that adding a splash of soy sauce justifies “Japanese-ness” in the foreign/western food. We need to squeeze in our familiar taste in the food!
If you want to join the kakushi aji club, add a splash of soy sauce in this Japanese seafood curry. What else can we put in the curry? Check out this post.
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
- 12 manila clams
- 3 onions
- 6 mushrooms
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 knob ginger (1", 2.5 cm)
- 6 oz medium-size shrimp
- 6 oz bay scallop
- 6 oz calamari
- 3 cups water
- 1 piece kombu (dried kelp) (2" x 3", 5 x 7.5 cm)
- 1 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, canola, etc)
- 1 package Japanese curry roux (8.4 oz, 240 g; I use a mixture of mild and medium hot spice level. For my homemade curry roux recipe, click here.)
- ¼ cup white wine (optional; any white is good such as Sherry, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay are recommended)
- ⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- ¼ apple (I use fuji apple)
- Gather all the ingredients.
- Scrub the clams with stiff brush under cold water. Put a wire rack inside a large casserole dish (or a sieve over a large bowl) and place the clams without overlapping each other. The clams need to be raised from the bottom so that sand and grit they purge will be at the bottom of the rack instead of being consumed by the clams again.
Make salt water. Combine 2 cups water and 1 Tbsp salt in a measuring cup and mix well. Pour the salt water in the casserole dish. The water level should be right around the clam’s mouth. Make more salt water if necessary.
- Cover the top with aluminum foil and keep it in a cool dark place (or fridge in summer time) for 3 hours. This should give clams enough time to purge sand and grit.
- Now look at the bottom of the casserole dish. All sands purged! Discard the water and place the clams in clean water (not salt water) to de-salt for 1 hour. Without this process, clams can taste too salty from the salt water. After 1 hour, wash the clams carefully with the brush and ready to use.
In 3 cups (720 ml) of water, drop a piece of kombu.
Cut the onions in half and then cut the halves into 5 wedges. Cut the mushrooms into ¼” (5 mm) slices.
- Mince the garlic and grate the ginger (keep the juice too).
- Peel the shrimp and devein the back of shrimp with a skewer (the vein runs right along the back so you can insert the skewer and pull out the vein).
Press the “Sauté” button on your Instant Pot (I use this 6 QT Instant Pot and heat 1 Tbsp vegetable oil.
- When the pot is hot, add the onion and coat with oil. Then add minced garlic and grated ginger.
- Add all the seafood (clams, shrimp, calamari, and bay scallop). Add ¼ cup (60 ml) white wine to deglaze the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. The brown bits (called fond) stuck to the bottom of the pot are where all the flavors are.
- When the alcohol is evaporated, add the kombu dashi (kombu water you made) and add the mushrooms.
- Add the curry roux (or homemade curry roux) and freshly ground black pepper. Use spatula to push down the ingredients but keep the curry roux blocks on top so they won’t get stuck and burn at the bottom.
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 “Pressure” button to switch to the manual pressure cooking mode. Change to "low" pressure and press the “minus” button to change the cooking time to 5 minutes.
[stove-top pressure cooker] Cook on high heat until high pressure is reached. Then reduce the heat to low but maintain low pressure for about 5 minutes.
When it is finished cooking, the Instant Pot will switch automatically to a “Keep Warm” mode. Immediately quick release the pressure/steam by sliding the steam release handle to the "Venting" position until the float valve drops down. Important: We don’t want to naturally release seafood curry because the seafood could be overcooked with the remaining heat. Unlock the lid and add 1 Tbsp soy sauce and grate ¼ of apple. Mix well and make sure all the curry roux has been dissolved.
Serve the curry over steamed rice.
You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.