The last recipe I want to share for Japanese Cuisine month is Japanese curry.
Japanese curry is one of those easy-to-make recipes that also has a deeply passionate following. Every home has at least 1 box of the pre-made curry blocks and there are plenty of variations and brands available to choose from. Just boil some water, add your stew basics (potatoes, onions, carrots), and melt some of the cubes to have a ready meal for a family.
The reason curry is “easy to make” at home is because of those curry blocks, cubes of pre-made flavored roux that are shelf-stable. It’s very uncommon to find anyone who makes Japanese curry from scratch. You’re more likely to find rows of the curry block boxes in the grocery store than a single container of Japanese curry powder.
This is one of those foods that makes me jealous of those without my dietary restrictions. Even when cooking from scratch, Japanese curry is a roux-based curry, meaning it starts with a base of slowly browning a mixture of flour and butter to make what is called a light roux.
This method of making Japanese curry took a lot of research and exposure to many cuisine types to come up with and has a lot of thanks to give to Indian cuisine specifically.
The magic ingredient that makes eating Japanese curry possible is… cashews.
Indian cuisine has cashew based curries (which also tend to have dairy in it to… another story for another day) where cashews are soaked and blended into a pureé where when boiled, thickens the broth into a creamy stew.
We use the same method in this Japanese curry recipe.
Cashew-based Japanese Curry (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Corn Free, Coconut Free)
- 1 Vitamix blender or other high-powered blender
- 1 large pot
- 1/2-3/4 cup raw cashews raw is best, but roasted and unsalted work ok
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup chicken fat other animal fat also works. Olive oil or other vegetable oil also acceptable but may not create as rich of a curry. See notes.
- 1/4 cup diced onions
- 2 chopped carrots
- 1 chopped potato
- 1/2 lb sliced beef
- 1/4 cups curry powder S&B curry powder is iconic, but you can also make your own Japanese curry powder. See notes.
- 2 cups beef broth chicken broth or dashi stock also ok
- Soak the cashews in water for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight. But do not soak more than 12 hours (I find the ground cashew grains stay separated if they are oversoaked).1/2-3/4 cup raw cashews, 2 cups water
Make Cashew Cream
- Right before starting to make the curry, blend the cashews and water in a Vitamix or other high-power blender until the cashews turn into a creamy liquid consistency. Set aside
Make the Curry
- In a 3-qt or larger pot, add the chicken fat and onions. Sauté until onions are translucent1/4 cup chicken fat, 1/4 cup diced onions
- Add the potatoes and carrots. Add the sliced beef. Add the curry powder and stir to cook, but be careful not to burn the powder.2 chopped carrots, 1 chopped potato, 1/2 lb sliced beef, 1/4 cups curry powder
- Add the cashew cream, and then add the beef broth. Add more water as needed. Increase heat to boil.2 cups beef broth
- Once boiling, reduce pot to simmer and stir frequently, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan with the spatula to prevent the cashew cream from burning. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- Serve when ready. The flavors will meld over time, so this curry is also great if reheated next day. Enjoy