Delicious Japanese chicken curry recipe for a weeknight dinner! Tender pieces of chicken, carrots, and potatoes cooked in a rich savory curry sauce, this Japanese version of curry is a must-keep for your family meal.
When you are too busy to cook, what is the go-to meal that you plan ahead of time?
For my mom, it was Japanese Curry aka Curry Rice (Kare Raisu/カレーライス) because she could cook it the day before, and it would taste just as good or even better the second day.
The Japanese Chicken Curry
I know some of you are probably surprised to hear there is a Japanese version of curry, but yes we do! And Japanese chicken curry is quite popular for all generations in Japan and it’s widely available in many restaurants. The Japanese curry is a popular dish outside of Japan as well, especially in Asian countries.
The curry was introduced to Japan in late 1800 by the British and originally it was Western-style stews mixed with curry powder. The Japanese adapted curry to their own version, Curry Rice (Kare Raisu, カレーライス) soon after. By 1950s the curry roux in block form was sold by S&B Foods and everyone could make it easily at home.
Japanese Curry vs. Thai or Indian Curry
The consistency of Japanese curry sauce is much thicker and the taste is on the sweeter side. The sweetness comes from caramelized onions, grated apples, and carrots. It is also less spicy which is suitable for children. We always serve the curry with rice.
What is Japanese Curry Roux?
The reason why we can make the Japanese curry in a short time is that we use the convenient Japanese Curry Sauce Mix (curry roux カレールー). I’m not a big fan of “instant” or boxed food, but I have to say Japanese Curry Roux is an exception!
Each brand of the curry roux usually comes with 3 levels of spiciness – Mild, Medium, or Hot. Since these are packaged for Japanese taste, the hot level is not nearly as spicy as Thai or Indian curry.
Personalize the Store-Bought Curry
My mom always added grated apple 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 2 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 a few combinations of the following ingredients (* frequently used) to enhance the flavor and give some complexity to the curry.
- Grated apple*
- Oyster sauce
- Red wine
- Soy sauce*
- Tonkatsu sauce* or Worcestershire Sauce
Homemade Japanese Curry Roux
Learn how to make Japanese Curry Roux from scratch. Only 5 ingredients! This easy recipe will have you cook up many delicious pots of Japanese curry.
Make Japanese Curry in Pressure Cooker
Do you own an Instant Pot or a pressure cooker? You can also prepare this comfort dish using my Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker) Japanese Curry recipe.
When I make this Japanese chicken curry, I often cook up a big batch for leftovers and keep them in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for up to a month. I hope you enjoy this delicious Japanese Chicken Curry recipe!
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
- 1.5 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs (680 g or beef, pork, seafood, tofu, or more vegetables; you can increase up to 2 lbs/907 g)
- kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; Use half for table salt)
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 carrots
- 2 onions
- 1-2 potatoes (2-3 yukon gold potatoes if you want to preserve the potato shape)
- ½ Tbsp ginger (grated)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 ½ Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, canola, etc)
- 4 cups chicken stock/broth (960 ml; For low-sodium intake, you can use water only, or use half stock + half water)
- 1 apple (I used Fuji apple; use as much as you like to add sweetness)
- 1 Tbsp honey
- ½ tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; Use half for table salt)
- 1 box Japanese curry roux (7 oz or 200 g; use my homemade curry roux recipe)
- 1 ½ Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp ketchup
- soft/hard-boiled egg
- Fukujinzuke (red pickled daikon)
Gather all the ingredients.
- Discard the extra fat from the chicken and cut it into bite size pieces. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper.
Peel and cut the carrot in rolling wedges (Rangiri) and cut the onions in wedges.
- Cut the potatoes into 1.5 inch pieces and soak in water for 15 minutes to remove excess starch.
- Grate the ginger and crush the garlic.
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat and sauté the onions until they become translucent.
Add the ginger and garlic.
- Add the chicken and cook until the chicken changes color.
- Add the carrot and mix.
- Add the chicken broth (or water).
Bring the stock to boil and skim the scrum and fat from the surface of the stock.
Peel the apple and grate it (use as much as you like to add sweetness)
Add the honey and salt and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender, and turn off the heat. Meanwhile you can make homemade curry roux.
- When the potatoes are ready, add the curry. If you use the store-bought curry roux, put 1-2 blocks of roux in a ladle and slowly let it dissolve with spoon or chopsticks. Continue with the rest of blocks. Then go to Step #17.
- If you are using homemade curry roux, add a ladleful or two of cooking liquid from the stock and mix into the curry paste. Add more cooking liquid if necessary and mix well until it’s smooth.
- Add the roux paste back into the stock in the large pot and stir to combine.
- Add soy sauce and ketchup. Simmer uncovered on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the curry becomes thick.
Serve the curry with Japanese rice on the side and garnish with soft boiled egg and Fukujinzuke. You can store the curry in the refrigerator up to 2-3 days and in the freezer for 1 month. Potatoes will change the texture so you can take them out before freezing.
Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.
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Editor’s Note: The post was originally published on Mar 19, 2013. The content has been updated in June 2017.