Japanese Style Curry

A friend and I were discussing Japanese style curry a few days ago.  I forget how the subject even came up.  I mentioned my secret ingredient was a Korean pear.  This time, I made it sans pear and instead went with some apples another friend brought over.  People always seem surprised I make curry from scratch, but it’s not really that much more work or difficult than cooking it out of a box.

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First, cook the crap out of an onion. I sliced them into thin quarter-circles, and let them caramelize with a few tablespoons of oil and a pinch of salt.  This may seem like a lot of onions, but it really cooks down.  Halfway through this process, I remembered reading in the ingredient list somewhere on those blocks of pre-made curry roux that there was tomato paste. So I squeezed some tomato paste from a tube in there, mixed it up, and let it continue cooking.

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While the onion is cooking, which takes a whole half hour if you’re doing it right, prep your vegetables. For tonight’s curry, I used chopped kabocha squash, potatoes, carrots, and apples.  You’ll notice that my chopping is not uniform.  I left the skin on the squash because it softens and is edible. I kept the squash in large-ish pieces since they get pretty soft.  Carrots in smaller pieces because they take a while to cook. Potatoes in smaller pieces because I like when they just melt into the curry.  And the apples in the smallest pieces because I don’t want to bite into a big chunk of apple.

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After the onion has cooked down, add in two tablespoons of S&B curry powder.  No, none of your fancy organic, frou-frou stuff. Use the thing in this red and yellow can. Put the powdered gold into the pan with the onions and stir, coating the onions.  Add in a tablespoon of margarine (or butter) and stir, letting that melt and coat the onions.

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Add in two tablespoons of all purpose flour and stir some more.  Cook that on medium heat for two minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning.  Now add a big splash of that rice-washing water and stir. You’ll notice the roux thickens almost immediately.  Stir and once it starts to separate into more of a thick sauce, add another splash of water, and stir.   When that thickens again, add the rest of the water and stir. Now taste it and add salt if it’s not salty enough.

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Throw in all the vegetables and top off with water or broth.  Turn the heat on high and boil the shit out of it let it come to a boil. While that’s happening, chop up your medium firm tofu into blocks.  Once the curry is boiling, drop in the tofu, and stir to incorporate.  Most of the stuff should be submerged in the curry now. If not, top off with more water.  Keep the heat on medium and let it cook for half an hour, stirring occasionally to keep the bottom from browning.

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I like serving curry like this. Rice on one side, curry on the other. Some people like pickled ginger with their curry. I don’t. But I do like kimchi. Okay, maybe not very traditional, but neither is curry and miso soup, according to my friend Yuko!