Home-made Japanese Curry (Curry Rice)

The recent in Japan have been devastating for us all to hear. I guess I’ve been cooking a lot of Japanese food to feel closer to the people there. I’ve always wanted to make my own Japanese curry as the packet bought ones are full of nasties like MSG. This recipe was a winner and although it took me longer to cook (about 2 hours total), it was worth the wait! This recipe makes about 6-8 servings. You can add any vegies you want to the curry – I also like it with eggplant 🙂

6 large onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
2 cups of shitake mushrooms, de-stalked and cut in halves
1 packet of tofu (firm is best)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and then cut into chunks
2 cups of crushed tomatoes (or 1 x 400g can)
1 vegetarian stock cube (beef flavoured if they have it but vegetable is fine too)
1 bay leaf
1 star anise
2-3 tablespoons of garam masala
3-4 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large apple, grated
Oil or dairy-free margarine/butter
1 teaspoon of salt

Curry roux ingredients:
3 tablespoons of dairy-free margarine, ghee or oil (or a mixture)
4 tablespoons of gluten-free plain flour
2 tablespoons of curry powder (or more/less to taste)
1 soft-boiled egg per person (optional)

1. Prepare ingredients.
2. Heat a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, and gently heat butter/ghee/oil.
3. Add the onions and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook the onions, adding one teaspoon of salt. The longer the better. I cooked mine for about 20 minutes but the original recipe called for an hour or so (the salt helps it along as it extracts the moisture in the onions). At the end you want to end up with a much reduced mass of onion that is a light caramel brown in color.
4. Once the onions have reached this stage, add the ginger and garlic and cook a few more minutes.
5. Add the canned tomato and 6 cups of water, the stock cube, the bay leaf and the star anise.
6. Peel and grate the apple and stir in.
7. Add the sweet potato and shitake mushrooms to the pot.
7. Bring up to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for at least 1 hour.
8. About 30 minutes into the cooking process, dry-roast about a tablespoon of garam masala powder in a small frying pan until it starts to get very fragrant, and add to the stew pot. Add the carrots and tofu then too.
9. In the meantime, make the curry roux. In a small frying pan, melt the dairy-free margarine, ghee or oil and heat until any foaming subsides.
10. Add the flour, and cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until it becomes a light brown in color.
11. Take the pan off the heat, and add the curry powder to your taste. Stir until the whole kitchen and beyond smells like curry. Set aside.
12. When ingredients are tender, take the big pot off the heat and fish out the bay leaf and star anise. Stir in the roux carefully until it’s completely melted into the stew and the liquid is thick and very brown. Return to the heat and simmer a few more minutes.
13. At this stage you can dry roast another tablespoonful or so of garam masala and add it to the curry.
14. If you would like to serve an egg with your meal, boil them now (we prefer our yolks to be runny).
14. Serve curry on a bed of rice with an egg and Japanese pickles. There are two ways of serving curry in the “yohshoku restaurant” way. One is to put the curry in a sauce boat, and serve the rice separately. The other is to put the rice on the plate, and cover just one half with curry, You can of course just pour the curry right on the mound of rice.

For more information on any of the steps in this fabulous recipe, please visit a fantastic recipe blog, Just Hungry — http://www.justhungry.com/japanese-beef-curry

Please also donate to the Red Cross to help Japan get back on its feet — http://www.redcross.org.au/japan2011.htm

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