If sweet and mild is your curry of choice, Japanese chicken curry could be your ‘go-to’ curry.
Japanese chicken curry is a lot different to those you find in India and South East Asia. It’s sweet with a thick sauce which is prepared by first making a roux. When my kids were growing up, they asked for Japanese chicken curry all the time. It’s makes a great after work meal as it can be prepared in about 30 minutes and kids love it.
Is curry popular in Japan?
This kind of curry is. Most Japanese people aren’t big fans of spicy dishes. But Curry rice which is what they call this dish is mild and real comfort food.
Not only does it look different to most South Asian curries, some would say it doesn’t taste much like a curry either. Though curry powder is used in the sauce so it ticks that box anyway.
My first time trying Japanese chicken curry…
During my senior year of high school back in California, I became good friend with a Japanese exchange student. We used to sneak off campus and buy beer and then take them back to one of our houses to drink the afternoon away. It was much easier to purchase alcohol under age back then than it is now.
If we went to my house, it was always Kraft Mac and Cheese on the lunch menu. If we went to his place, he would bring out a couple of the S&B curry kits he brought with him from Japan. I think he must have brought over a hundred.
It was certainly a different food experience for me but I like it. The curry packs he brought with him were the extra spicy version but they weren’t spicy at all.
I never thought about making a Japanese chicken curry from scratch until lately. This recipe brought back some great memories.
What is Japanese chicken curry?
It’s looks more like a stew and often has large pieces of carrot and potato in the thick sauce. It’s actually cooked more like a stew as well with that roux that thickens the sauce. In order to understand what Japanese curry is, you need to know a little bit about its history.
The History of Japanese curry…
Curries and indeed curry powder were introduced to Japan back in the 1800 by the British. At that time, the British had already been enjoying a good curry from time to time for a couple hundred years.
The original Japanese curries were simple stews which per mixed with curry powders that arrived on British naval ships. As time when by, the Japanese changed their curries to their own tastes by thickening the sauce with a roux and adding sweetening them with honey and blended apple among other things.
In the 1950, the company S&B started producing a ready-made curry roux which could be purchased by families to quickly whip up a curry whenever they wanted. Let’s just say that they wanted that curry a lot as curries like this recipe are made regularly in Japanese households.
Step by step photographs of Japanese chicken curry
If you like this curry, you might like to try some of these too…
- 2 tbsp rapeseed (canola) or peanut oil
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 1 large potato, skinned and cut into small cubes
- 1 carrot, cut into small bite sized pieces at an angle
- 700g Chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 litre chicken stock
- FOR THE ROUX
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour
- 1 generous tbsp curry powder, (homemade or S&B)
- 1 tsp paprika or chilli powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 apple, grated and pounded or blended to a paste
- 1 tbsp mirin (optional but authentic)
- 4 tbsp chicken stock
- Start by making the roux. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large, high-sided frying pan and the add the flour. Stir continuously until the roux turns a light beige. Then stir in the curry powder, garam masala and paprika. As you stir, the roux will take on a milk chocolate brown colour from all the spices.
- Now stir in the soy sauce, mirin and apple paste. Be sure to stir quickly so that you are left with a dark, wet paste.
- Stir in about 3 tablespoon of stock to thin it a bit. You want the roux to be a bit runny and well combined so add more stock if needed but not too much!
- Once you have a nice runny roux that literally oozes off your spoon, transfer it to a bowl and set aside. It will solidify like jelly as it cools.
- Wipe your pan clean and place over a medium heat. Add the oil to the pan and then the sliced onions. Stir well to combine and allow to fry for about 4 minutes until the onion is soft, translucent but not at all browned.
- Add the potato and fry over medium heat for about 5 minutes and then add the chopped carrot. Continue cooking until the potato is about 60% cooked through. This will take about 10 more minutes.
- Now add the chicken and stir it into the onion mixture. Cook until the chicken is turning white on the exterior and then return the roux to the pan.
- Again, stir well to combine and our in about 250ml chicken stock. Stir it all up. As you do, the stock will thicken quickly because of the roux.
- Slowly add more stock when the sauce thickens. It is essential that you don’t just pour all the stock in at once as it may not all be needed! Add it in small amounts until the sauce is thick and creamy.
- Continue simmering and adding chicken stock in small amounts until the potatoes, carrots and chicken are cooked through and you have a delicious thick curry sauce.
- Season with more salt or soy sauce if needed and serve with white rice.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 647Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 27gCholesterol: 247mgSodium: 1263mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 3gSugar: 13gProtein: 50g
I hope you enjoy this Japanese chicken curry. I have a few more Japanese curries on the way for you. If you do try this recipe, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.