Something I have discovered that I did not expect from Japanese cuisine is curry. In the states, our Japanese restaurants are limited to sushi, tempura and teriyaki. Never before have I seen a bowl of curry on a menu back home. So imagine my surprise when on my second day in country I was handed a bowl of delicious beef curry. Japanese curry is rich, aromatic, filling, easy to make and inexpensive to cook. Here’s what you will need to serve one person:
Package of Japanese curry base: Japanese curry is not a paste or powder, but comes in the form of blocks. Each block usually has four sections that break apart. When I cook for two I use the whole block, so you may only need to use half. You can buy these in any market or convenience store in Japan, and Asian markets in Western countries should have them too.
Beef: If you want a vegetarian curry, simply omit this. Look for a cheap cut of beef steak that is at least half an inch thick. This isn’t always easy to find in Japan, so my decision to make curry for dinner usually occurs when I see a piece of meat I can use. Andrew once bought me thinly sliced beef on accident, which wasn’t terrible, but nice hearty chunks are a better texture for curry. If you have better access to beef, use any Top Round or Sirloin cut, trimming extra fat as desired. Cut into bite sized cubes.
Potato: In Japan, the common potatoes I see at the market tend to be quite small, which is very frustrating when you want to peel them. If you are using small potatoes for one serving, you only need a couple. If you find the large ones, definitely one will be enough. Peel and chop into bite sized pieces.
Carrot: Japanese carrots are also a little stubby compared to those in the states, but just one will do the trick. Peel and thinly slice. I usually cut the bigger rounds in half again, but it will depend on the width of your carrot.
Onion: White or yellow onion will work, again these tend to be smaller in Japan. For a single serving you need less than half, more if you really like onions.
Rice: I suppose you could eat this curry sans rice, but why would you want to? Rice is what makes this a really filling meal. I use one cup of uncooked rice for two people, so halve that if you want a single serving.
If you make the rice in a rice-cooker, this recipe becomes a one-pot dish. Start the rice first and it will be ready when your curry is done. Heat a large pot on medium and add a neutral oil like vegetable or grapeseed, which I recently found at the market! Chop your onion into small pieces, but not minced. I cook the onion first so that is has a chance to get soft. Sauté for a few minutes or until the onion looks translucent. Add your bite sized beef to the pot to brown for a few minutes.
Bring everything to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer for around ten minutes. I test the potatoes with a fork after ten minutes to see if they are soft. If not, continue to cook a little longer. Then add your block o’ curry. If you are cooking for one, start with half the block.
The liquid will darken but it will seem thin at first. Allow the mixture to continue to cook for a few minutes to thicken. The consistency should be like stew, thicker than soup but not as thick as gravy. If it’s still thinner than you would like, keep adding those curry blocks as needed. Put your rice in a bowl and ladle your curry on top. Itadakimasu