Japanese Chicken Curry from Scratch

Japanese curry is one of my comfort dishes. It’s warm, it hits different notes he nice thing about it is that it can go with most meats, any vegetable and it is perfect with cheese. I usually use Japanese curry roux cubes like Golden Curry or Vermont Curry to be able to make a quick and easy, delicious version of this dish. I’ve made this dish on several occasions, usually with sliced beef. This is one of the older recipes that I posted: https://alotofkitcheneats.wordpress.com/2018/05/21/coco-ichibanya-style-sliced-beef-japanese-curry/

But what if there are no curry cubes available? Such was the case today when I realized that the curry cubes that I had at home were already expired, and a “quick grocery run” is something that isn’t feasible at a time like this. Running to the smaller Japanese grocery wasn’t also an option. So I’ve decided to make it from scratch.

About a couple of years back, when you google “Japanese Curry from Scratch”, nothing would come up, or you might have to find the recipe in Japanese. But last year, I came across a recipe (http://adamliaw.com/recipe/japanese-beef-curry/) by Adam Liaw, which then called for beef. After watching his video, reading his recipe, looking through the ingredients available at home at the time, and a bit of recipe adjustment on my end, I’ve come up with a beautiful, well-balanced curry sauce.

The best part? You don’t need exotic ingredients to be able to pull this off, everything you need can be bought in the supermarket.

Japanese Chicken Curry (from Scratch)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 800 grams of chicken thigh fillet, cubed into one-inch pieces
  • 1 cup of carrots chopped into one-inch pieces*

*Note: in terms of chopping the carrot, most Japanese recipes recommend a rolling cut, which means cutting the vegetable at an angle, then rolling it halfway before making another angled cut.

  • 1 cup of potatoes chopped into one-inch pieces
  • 1 large white onion, roughly chopped
  • 6 cups of water
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 2 dashes of pepper
  • *Optional items:
    • Umeboshi/Japanese red pickles to be served on the side

For the Curry Sauce:

  • 4 and a half tablespoons of butter
  • 4 and a half tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons of curry powder (any kind of curry powder will work)
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder (if you have Shichi-mi togarashi 七味唐辛子 or seven-flavor chili pepper this is better, if not, chili powder is okay)
  • 1 small red apple (fuji or regular apple, doesn’t matter), peeled and grated
  • 2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
  • 1 and a half tablespoons of soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • Optional Items:
    • 1/4 cup water that had 5 dried shiitake mushrooms soaked in it for 15 minutes (this adds a bit of earthiness and umami to the dish, especially if you aren’t using chicken cubes, and then you can use the shiitake mushrooms for a side dish. Alternatively, you can use other dried mushrooms, but use the water when it is soaked for 7-10 minutes since the taste can be stronger).
    • A pinch or two of cumin, for a stronger curry flavor
    • A pinch or two of garam masala, for a stronger curry flavor
    • If your apple isn’t very sweet, you may put a teaspoon of honey (on standby, taste before you add).

Instructions:

  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and sear in a pan until light brown and set aside.
  2. In a pot of boiling water, add the chicken and 1 chicken cube (if you will use the chicken cube) and boil for 15 minutes.
  3. During the second half of boiling the chicken, add carrots and potatoes in the pot.
  4. Strain the chicken, carrots, and potatoes after the designated boiling time and set aside the stock.
  5. In a separate saucepan, melt the butter under low medium heat. Do not allow the butter to turn brown. Add the flour and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until it is well incorporated and forms a semi-smooth paste.
  6. Add the curry seasoning and chili powder (and optional garam masala and cumin), and mix until they’re all well incorporated. At this point, you might feel that the spoon that you are using is starting to be a bit heavy.
  7. *Optional: Add the water soaked in shiitake mushrooms at this point, mixing to ensure that there are no lumps.
  8. Add the chicken stock to the mixture half a cup at a time, mixing and making sure that there are no lumps before adding more stock. If you’re having difficulty removing the lumps, using a whisk can also help you.
  9. When the sauce starts to have a sheen to it and its thickness is a bit thick, but not watery or runny, the curry roux is ready.
  10. Add the salt, ketchup, soy sauce, grated apple, and onions to the sauce. Adjust the taste at this point if you would need more heat (chili powder) or sweetness (honey), or salt.
  11. Add in the chicken and vegetables and mix well before simmering in low heat for about 5 more minutes.
  12. Serve with plain rice and umeboshi on the side.

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