If you haven’t heard of Japanese curry or it seems like an odd pairing of words, then I’m glad to introduce this wonderful comfort food. This dish is where the Venn diagram of childhood foods of my husband and I squarely intersect. While my version was served with a side of kimchi and his with some Japanese pickled ginger, it’s a nostalgic dish for both of us.
A typical home cook would make Japanese curry composed with a protein, vegetables and starch (e.g. beef, onions, carrots and potatoes). One of the most popular ways of cooking this dish is to use convenient curry cubes you can find at the Asian grocery store – S&B Golden Curry Sauce mix. As with many convenient shortcut flavoring devices when you look closely at the fine print, there’s an ingredient lurking in it that explains a lot of the sluggishness, bloating and general food coma that seems to ensue after consumption. It was through a book I’m reading called “The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks” by Kathleen Flinn that instigated my “duh” moment and noticed the huge amount of MSG and sodium in the curry mix. Hence a search for a healthier alternative began.
Lucky for me, I happen to stumble upon a Japanese Curry blend of spices at Oaktown Spice Shop. Below is their recipe for Japanese Curry Chicken which came printed on an index card to take home. I’ve made this a few times and is definitely the extra effort for its delicious results – my kids gobbled it up the same as if it were out of a box, and even my Japanese mother in law approved. Oaktown Spice Shop has an online shop, so snag it up and try this recipe!
Oaktown Spice Shop’s Japanese Curry Chicken Recipe
3 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp canola oil
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cubed (or beef, pork, or tofu)
salt and pepper
3 tbsp butter
1 medium yellow onion, half chopped finely, half in 1” pieces
1 clove garlic, chopped
4 tbsp flour
3-4 tbsp Japanese Curry Powder
2 tbsp chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, or ketchup
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1” pieces
1 small apple, peeled, cored and grated
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp soy sauce
Heat the chicken broth in a large pot and bring to a simmer. While that’s heating, season chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in skillet on high. Add chicken and saute, stirring until fully cooked. Set aside.
In the same skillet, melt butter, add diced onion and garlic and saute until translucent. Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 2 minutes. Add curry powder and tomatoes. Turn off heat. Add 1/2 cup of hot chicken broth and whisk into onion mixture until it forms a roux.
Add roux to large pot of hot broth and whisk. Add the chicken, large onion, carrots and potatoes and simmer, stirring occasionally until vegetables are tender, about 30-40 minutes. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add apple, honey and soy sauce. Salt to taste.