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 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.
Some of you may feel the Japanese curry roux is salty and I don’t disagree. It’s a pretty strong (salty) taste, which is why it goes well with plain steamed rice. In general, the Japanese are more used to saltier savory foods in Japanese foods such as salted grilled fish, pickles, and condiments like miso and soy sauce.
Here are my suggestions:
- Make my homemade curry roux.
- Use water instead of chicken stock (because the saltiness varies).
- Use less curry roux.
- Add more water to dilute the roux but it will become looser 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 (bold for 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 Chicken Curry
- 1 ½ lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (beef, pork, seafood, tofu, mushrooms, 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 russet 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, rice bran, canola, etc)
- 4 cups chicken stock/broth (Store-bought curry roux can be salty. If you're careful with 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 package Japanese curry roux (7-8 oz or 200-230 g; or use all of my homemade curry roux)
- 1 ½ Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp ketchup
- soft/hard-boiled egg
- furkujinzuke (red pickled daikon)
- Gather all the ingredients.
To Prepare 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 ½ inch (4 cm) pieces and soak in water for 15 minutes to remove excess starch.
- Grate the ginger and crush the garlic.
To Cook the Curry
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat and sauté the onions until they become translucent and tender.
- Add the ginger and garlic.
- Add the chicken and cook until it's no longer pink.
- Add the carrot and mix well to coat with oil.
- Add the chicken broth and bring it to a boil. Chicken broth contains a different amount of salt. If you're careful with sodium intake or not sure if your chicken stock is too salty, you can use water only, or use half stock + half water. You can always add salt at the end of cooking.
- Peel the apple and grate it (use as much as you like to add sweetness). I've been using this grater and love it.
- Add the honey and salt and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the potatoes and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
To Add the Curry Roux
- Turn off the heat. If you use the store-bought curry roux, put 1-2 blocks of roux in a ladle and slowly let it dissolve with a spoon or chopsticks. Continue with the rest of the blocks.
- If you're using homemade curry roux, scoop a ladleful or two of cooking liquid from the curry broth and add it into the curry paste in a saucepan. Add more cooking liquid if necessary and mix well until it’s smooth.
- Add the roux mixture back into the soup and stir to combine.
To Season the Curry
- Add soy sauce and ketchup (and any other condiments you're adding – see the blog post). Simmer uncovered on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the curry becomes thick.
- You can keep the leftovers in a glass airtight container (so no stain!) and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer for a month. Potatoes will change the texture so you can take them out before freezing. When you reheat, add ¼-½ cup (60-120 ml) water to dilute the curry.
More Delicious Japanese Curry Recipes:
Editor’s Note: The post was originally published on Mar 19, 2013. The content has been updated in June 2017.