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Japanese Curry from Scratch

Japanese curry (カレー) from scratch. Loaded with tender chunks of chicken, carrots and potatoes in a rich savory curry sauce.
Course Entree, Soups & Stews
Cuisine Japanese
Level Intermediate
Main Ingredient Poultry
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4 serving

Ingredients

For curry

  • 550 grams boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 14 grams garlic (~2 large cloves, grated)
  • 14 grams fresh ginger (~1/2-inch piece, grated)
  • 500 grams onion (2 large onions, thinly sliced)
  • 3 tablespoons Japanese curry powder (Japanese brand such as S&B)
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 300 grams carrots (~ 2 carrots, cut into chunks)
  • ½ medium apple (peeled, cored and grated)
  • 2 tablespoons chunou sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 350 grams potatoes (~2 medium potatoes cut into large chunks)
  • ½ cup frozen green peas

for roux

  • 1 tablespoon cultured unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Instructions

  • Clean any large bits of fat or tendon from the chicken and cut into large chunks. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and mix to distribute evenly.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering and then add the chicken in a single layer. Let the chicken brown undisturbed (about 5 minutes). Flip the chicken and let it brown on the other side.
  • Turn down the heat to medium-low and transfer the chicken to a bowl using tongs, making sure to leave as much oil in the pan as possible.
  • Add the grated garlic and ginger and fry in the oil until it's not sizzling as much and it reaches a rich caramel brown color.
  • Add the onions, and stir to coat with oil. Cover with a lid and let the onions steam until translucent and limp (about 10-15 minutes).
  • Remove the lid, turn up the heat to medium and continue frying the onion, stirring constantly until it's reduced to about 1/8 of its original volume and it forms a shiny caramel brown paste (about 20-30 minutes). If the onion starts to stick to the pan before it's fully caramelized, try scrubbing off the stuck bits with a spatula. If that doesn't work you can add just a bit of water to the areas where things are sticking and then use the spatula to scrape.
  • When the onions are fully caramelized, add the curry powder and saute briefly until very fragrant.
  • Return the chicken to the pot and then add the stock, carrots, grated apple, chunou sauce, tomato paste, cocoa powder, salt and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add the potatoes, cover and simmer until the carrots and potatoes are very tender (another 15-20 minutes).
  • In the meantime, make the roux by adding the butter and flour to a small saucepan over medium heat. Use a spatula to stir constantly until the bubbling subsides and the roux is a light brown color.
  • When the potatoes are tender, taste and adjust salt to taste. If you like your curry sweeter, you can add some honey.
  • Finish the curry by stirring in the roux and green peas and bringing to a boil to thicken the sauce.
  • Serve with hot rice, or on top of a bowl of udon.