Katsu-Curry with Black Curry

Katsu Curry

In a world where most home cooks use “instant” bricks of curry roux to make their Japanese curry, I make a damned good one from scratch. But part of the no recipes philosophy is to never settle for “good enough”.

In a never ending quest to make good dishes better, I’m adding, subtracting, adjusting and substituting ingredients virtually every time I make a dish. “Better” is such a subjective word though, and in my world it just means “better suited for the mood I’m in”; and just like pizza, there are an infinite number of variations for just about any dish. So why tie yourself to one kind, when another may suit the weather (or your particular mood) better on any given day.

Some may see my philandering as infidelity towards my original Japanese Curry Rice, but one bite of this darker more seductive Kuro Curry (カツカレー) and you too will understand. “Kuro” literally means black in Japanese and while some restaurants take this literally, adding ingredients like squid ink to get a black curry sauce, I just add a lot of dark colored ingredients that give this Japanese-style curry a richer more intense flavor.

Black curry with vegetables

Using black pepper instead of cayenne gives this curry a tingly stomach warming heat. Red wine gives the sauce a fruity complexity while taking the color down a couple of notches. Star anise adds mild notes of black licorice without being overwhelming. Black cardamom adds some smokiness which is complimented by the black garlic oil, which adds a touch of bitterness and the woody umami of charred garlic. The chocolate adds a nutty flavor and gives the sauce a velvety texture. If this curry were a person he’d be dark and brooding on the outside yet full of passion and creative energy on the inside.

It’s not entirely clear who the genius was that first put tonkatsu and curry rice together, but it’s a match made in heaven with the thick, sweet curry enrobing a pork cutlet that’s crisp on the outside, and tender and moist on the inside. Along with a pile of hot rice, it’s an unlikely threesome that could only have come together in a culinary melting-pot like Japan.

For all you vegetarians wondering why I’ve tagged this post as a vegetarian recipe, it’s simple. The other elements that go into this curry sauce have enough flavor that you can omit the pork, and serve it atop a mound of vegetables like I’ve done in the photo above with grilled green beans and Japanese eggplant.

Katsu Curry with Black Curry Sauce

for curry
2 tablespoons oil
1 pound pork butt cut into 1/2″ cubes
4 medium onions sliced thin
1 1/2 C red wine
2 1/2 C water or stock
2 carrots cut 1/2″ cubes
2 large yukon gold potatoes cut into 1/2″ cubes
2 tsp kosher salt (use less if you use regular salt)
1 Tbs tonkatsu sauce
1 Tbs tomato paste
1/4 cup apple puree
1 black cardamom pod
1 whole star anise pod
1 teaspoon Mayu (black garlic oil)
1/2 cup peas
2 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate

for roux
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
2 tablespoons garam masala (or curry powder)
1-2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper (depending on how spicy you want it)

1 batch of tonkatsu or grilled veggies

Heat the oil in a large chef’s pan over medium high heat. Salt and pepper the pork then add them to the pan in a single layer. Let them meat brown on one side, then use tongs or chopsticks to flip them over and brown the other side. Transfer the pork to a bowl and turn the heat down to medium low. Add the onions and cover with a lid for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and continue caramelizing the onions until they are dark brown and glossy (about 1 hour).

Add the browned pork, wine, water, carrots potatoes, salt, tonkatsu sauce, tomatoe poast, apple puree, cardamom and mayu then bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer partially covered until the carrots are tender (about 45 minutes).

Meanwhile, make the roux by melting the butter over medium low heat. Add the flour cook while stirring until the mixtures turns a golden brown. Add the garam masala and black pepper and stir to incorporate (it will turn into a paste). Remove from the heat and set aside until the carrots are tender.

Make the tonkatsu, or grill some vegetables to serve the curry sauce on.

Finish the curry by ladling some of the liquid the meat and veggies have been cooking in into the roux and whisk until there are no lumps. Pour this mixture back into the other pot and gently stir until the curry is thickened. Taste for salt and adjust as needed. When you’re happy with it, add the peas and chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted and incorporated.

Slice the tonkatsu and plate with some cooked rice. Pour the sauce all over the tonkatsu and part of the rice.

  • http://bake5.wordpress.com hannah @ BakeFive

    Oh. My. Word. This is looks so, SO GOOD. I will definitely dream of this every night. Till you send me some…but then there’s the question of it going bad… I think I’ll stick to dreaming.

  • http://www.girlparaphernalia.com Bailey Yamamoto

    Isn’t that what perfects a dish, adding, subtracting, like you said, it’s most certainly subjective, but sometimes you just have to high-five yourself… I’m also a fan of curry rice, and the roux, esp シチュー.
    But, homemade roux is better… totally agree! Oh is that Nasu I see? Thanks for the recipe and sharing.

  • Oui, Chef

    Marc – This looks absolutely delicious, and is a dish I already want to make. Need to expand the pantry a little to pull it off, but I’m sure it will be worth the effort to track down the few ingredients I don’t already own. – S

  • http://www.giverecipe.com Zerrin

    Wow! This looks so scrumptious! A lovely presentation! It first serves satisfies my eyes and then my stomach with the appetizing flavor combination.

  • Holli

    I just have to tell you…. your food photography is amazing….

  • http://globetrotterdiaries.com Karen

    I am guilty of using cubes, but partly b/c i never really came across a recipe that I thought looked good. Guess I don’t have that excuse anymore– this looks delicious. Tonkatsu is one of my favs!

  • Ninetteenrique

    Incredibly interesting recipe. Tonkatsu-kare is one of my all-time favorites. I have some shredded pork in the fridge — leftover from cooking a 12 lb pork shoulder, so i could Momofuku my way through a lot of Chang’s recipes. I also have pureed nashi — I had to do something with that huge box of nashi that the Korean car service my husband uses gave to him. I don’t have Mayu or black cardamom, but I guess I’ll manage. I’ll have to try this.

  • http://smalltownoven.wordpress.com/ Sharlene

    This is immediately being bookmarked. Just this past weekend I introduced my friends to the delicious-ness that is tonkatsu and they were licking the bowl clean. I haven’t seen it done with curry before but I can only imagine how wonderful the flavors are!

  • http://food.lizsteinberg.com Liz

    I like that you offer a vegetarian version. I’ve never been able to get my curry quite like they make it in Japan, and I like the idea of the black cardamom and the black garlic oil.

  • http://baconandsouffle.blogspot.com/ Jessica

    Since I am one of those guilty of using “instant curry bricks” I think I will have to redeem myself by cooking this from scratch! I’m sure it would taste amazing over spaghetti too. Mmmm can’t wait to try it!

  • http://twitter.com/sippitysup sippitysup

    I may have tot try and pull this off. It would certainly expand my skills in the kitchen and that’s a good thing! GREG

  • http://www.pastrychefonline.com/ onlinepastrychef

    Oh my God! You made Antonio Banderas into a curry! I’ve been wondering where he’s been.

    Seriously, I always love the way you build your dishes and the whys behind your choices. This is great, as always, Marc!

  • http://bibberche.com Lana

    I am reading through your archives – give me a break:) My mother and grandmas in Serbia always cooked without a recipe, using “reminders” when baking:)
    This looks really delicious. My family would love it:) I am so ignorant of authentic Asian cuisines, though, and so glad I found a good source of information:) Thank you!

  • http://geometricdelights.wordpress.com Luyi

    Very creatively and elegantly written. The curry looks delightful.

  • http://twitter.com/umikim Lydia Kim

    yum!! just curious, what did you add in your rice?

    • Anonymous

      You can get little packets of oats and grains from Japanese grocery stores
      to add to your rice to give it more nutritional value. This particular one
      has 24 different grains.

  • http://www.debishawcross.com Debi (Table Talk)

    I don’t think I’m alone in saying I will be heading to the Asian market this week to get ingredients ready for this intensely flavored dish!

  • http://dreamsofcakes.wordpress.com/ Eftychia

    The recipe Katsu Curry with Black Curry Sauce
    looks delicious. What kind of oil do you use? Do you use vegetable stock or meat stock?

    • Anonymous

      Any flavorless vegetable oil is fine. If you’re making it meatless you could
      use vegetable stock for more umph, but if you’re adding meat, water is
      fine.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, that is very impressive. I can just taste the curry right from the picture!
    I happened to make my Tonkatsu last night for dinner but with a different sauce. I love Tonkatsu!

  • http://whisk-kid.blogspot.com/ Kaitlin

    Goodness – this looks incredible! I love curries, but this one looks different from any that I’ve tried before!
    the inclusion of apple puree sounds awesome.

  • http://www.octopusgourmet.com Octopus Gourmet

    whoa, finally, an alternative to packaged Japanese curry mix. does the chocolate make it taste almost like a mole?

    • Anonymous

      The flavor isn’t very mole-like, but the sauce is rich and nutty like a
      mole.

  • JK

    Made this curry with chicken and it was delicious! Very rich flavors and really hit the spot on a boring, cold weekday night.

    • Anonymous

      Glad to hear it:-) Thanks for your note!

  • http://www.strictlyfoodie.com Sade Williams

    This looks incredible! The first photo is making my mouth water! But what is the curry on in the 2nd photo? Fish?

    http://www.strictlyfoodie.com

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      The curry is on grilled eggplant and green beans in the second photo.

  • guga

    do you re-add the browned pork but into the sauce? it says to set it aside but never specifies what to do with it afterwords.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Opps! Nice catch! Yep the meat goes in with all the liquids. I’ve
      updated the recipe.

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  • Solanm

    Lived in Japan afew years the dark colour is produced by frying lots of onions to the point of almost burning then adding flour to make the roux. The onions make it sweeter also.

  • http://www.fodder4.us Ron Evans

    This is a spectacular looking curry… and hard to find on the search engines until I did a search for ‘Dark Curry’.  An ever so small hex on you for those evil green peas but other than that this is a very interesting looking curry and the first one I’ve seen from scratch that seems worth the effort. Unlike Apple Pie or Pizza  (which ALWAYS beat supermarket fare) I’ve never seen a from scratch Japanese Curry worth the trouble.  Yours seems worth the effort. I’ve been doing the chocolate and apple.  And considered the red wine after eating a dish of Trader Joe’s Beef Bourguignon.  Along with the slow sauted/roasted onions some have suggested dark miso as well. Thank you for this and great post!

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  • kp

    Just a suggestion. you can boil some black beans and puree in a blender then add to curry. It darkens the sauce and also adds fiber plus a little sweetness to the sauce.

  • nzmike

    Oh man, this looks so good I almost licked the screen!!! It does look like quite a lot of prep but my love for katsu curry knows no bounds so I’ll be trying this on a friday or saturday night when I can take my time… oh, and when I’ve found the black cardamom here in Sydney – it’s not the easiest spice to get hold of!

  • seb

    I’ve recently come across kanazawa curry during my travels ,something similar to Go Go Curry. I didn’t manage to find any recipes online but I just can’t forget that taste. Do you know the recipe for Kanazawa recipe curry (金沢カレー)..Thanks :)

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Seb, GoGo is a kanazawa style curry shop. I’ve only been there once, but I remember the biggest difference is that all the vegetables were pureed into the sauce which made it very thick. I don’t think they included potatoes in theirs, just lots of onions and carrots. But then again it’s been about 5 years since I’ve been there, so my memory could be wrong.

      • seb

        It’s seriously addictive! You’ll regret taking in the greasy meal, but I seriously can’t stop thinking about it after the meal. I’ve tried finding the recipe but so far this seems to be the closest! I don’t understand japanese, unfortunately.

        http://tenpuracola.blog.fc2.com/blog-entry-45.html

        • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

          HI Seb, I just took a look at the video, it’s similar to mine, except she’s using instant curry roux from a package rather than making it from scratch. She’s also adding more sweet stuff (like apple juice) than mine, and she adds caramelized sugar. I think if you make my recipe and add in extra apple puree and some caramelized sugar, you should get something pretty close.


          Marc Matsumoto
          http://norecipes.com
          http://wanderingcook.com
          Twitter: @norecipes

          • seb

            Thanks! Your curry does look much healthier. I’m just wondering what black powder she was using in the video. I’m going to try your recipe but I’m going to puree the whole thing and see how it turns out! Hope it turns out similar! Cheers!

          • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

            The black powder in the video is they instant curry roux (it comes in block and powder form in Japan)

  • Cam

    It doesnt say kuro kare it says katsu kare

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Cam, not sure what you mean. This is both katsu kare and kuro kare. Katsu refers to the tonkatsu and kuro just means “black” in japanese.

      • Teta

        In your third paragraph where it has the katakana, you are describing what Kuro Kare is but in parenthesis it has “katsu kare”. Oh and this is the best curry I’ve ever had, better than what I ate in Japan, thank you for being a culinary genius.

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  • JME

    Any dark chocolate bar off the counter will do? Hope this curry won’t be too thick… Sounds seductive to use chocolate for a main dish though.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      You’ll want to use a chocolate that’s at least 72% cacao, any less and it will be too sweet. Japanese curry is by nature very thick, if you don’t like thick curries, you might want to try something else. Maybe something like this: http://norecipes.com/blog/chicken-curry-recipe/

  • Jayce

    Hi Chef Marc! I’m planning on making a beef-katsu curry, what beef cut would you recommend that would cook perfectly as a katsu? and how would i go about the oil temperatures because i don’t have cooking thermometers. Thankyou!

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Jayce, beef isn’t ideal for making katsu (chicken thigh is a better alternative) because the tender cuts (like fillet mignon) tend to be pretty lean, but it should be okay along as you use a thick cut and are careful not to overcook the meat (aim for medium rare). As for the temperatures, there’s no accurate way to gauge the temperature without a thermometer that I could explain to you here, but you want the oil hot enough so the katsu starts bubbling from the moment you add it until the moment you remove it from the oil. If the oil is too hot the panko will brown before the beef is cooked through. Luckily with beef there’s less of a concern of undercooking it, so you probably want to aim for the hotter end of the spectrum.

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