I’ve written about Japanese Beef Curry before. I made an SCD version in the early days of my blog. But I wanted to try it again with POTATOES. I am so glad that I was able to put chunks of Yukon Gold heaven in this curry. Don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients or time. There is 20 minutes of prep, about 15 minutes of active cooking and then the rest of the time the curry simmers away in a Dutch oven.
Japanese Beef Curry is considered comfort food. Most people don’t make it from scratch but from flavor packets. I noticed that when I eat curry dishes in restaurants I tend to have some digestion issues. I also tried curry dishes created from curry packets bought at my local Asian market and still experienced problems.
I was starting to panic that I would never eat curry again. But I decided to make my own and see if that made a difference. And it does. Making curries from scratch is how I get both maximum comfort and flavor. The smell wafting from the pot as it cooks is amazing and transports me to Japan.
My memories of Japanese Beef Curry in Japan always involve a vending machine. I’m pretty sure that anything you can ever think of has been put in a vending machine in Japan.
I can’t remember a single instance where I ate it in a restaurant or out of a pot cooked by someone. Maybe this is horrible? I don’t know. Basically, to replicate a food I ate frequently out of a machine that was instantly ready at a press of a button, I’ve created a recipe that simmers in a Dutch oven for 6 hours. Ironic.
The Spices of Japanese Curry
All spice mixes/brands are different. Japanese curry has some heat but some sweetness as well. The dominant spices in Japanese curry powder are:
- 80-90% – turmeric, coriander, cumin, and cardamom
- 5-15% – clove and fennel
- black pepper and cayenne pepper for heat
- other spices such as cinnamon, allspice, fenugreek, bay leaf, sage, star anise, nutmeg, cocoa powder, and coffee powder.
When shopping for curry blends I take a look at the label and decide if it has the general blend I want. I also go by color. When I made this, I was out of my favorite garam masala. There were two choices for me at the grocery store. One mix was bright reddish brown, and the other was a darker chocolate brown. The lighter one ended up having way too much pepper spices in it while the darker one was more what I needed for Japanese Beef Curry.
Onions: Tales of Woe
For some meals, I like to take some time to learn or brush up on basic cooking skills. Slicing onions correctly is one of them. When I first made my Thai Yellow Curry with Chicken, I sliced the onions in rings and they ended up being really stringy and annoying. I’m not saying it ruined the dish but…I was very sad.
I switched to pearl onions and loved them. That worked for the Thai Yellow Curry because it doesn’t cook as long as the Japanese Beef Curry, which simmers for a total of 6 hours. I’m pretty sure the pearl onions would be really mushy or disintegrate completely. So how do I cut the onions so they don’t end up stringy?
I decided to try Lyonnaise Onions, which means “in the style of Lyon.” It is an onion slicing technique used for when long even strips of onion are called for, like in French Onion Soup, caramelized onions, stir-fry, and Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches. You cut the onion lengthwise and then slice on the diagonal, like the wheels of spoke. Watch this short YouTube video for a short demonstration. It really helped me understand the slicing technique.
Smell You later…
Now go off and create your own deliciously fragrant memories. On Thursday, I will be changing the leftovers into little individual potpies! Yum.
Japanese Beef Curry
- 2.5 pounds boneless beef chuck
- 4 tablespoons shio-koji
- 1 teaspoon salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 yellow onions halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic minced or crushed
- 1 tablespoon ginger grated
- cup ¼ flour
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 1 tablespoon garem masala
- teaspoon ½ cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons Tonkatsu sauce
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon shio koji leave out if you can't find
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 4 cups beef stock/broth + 1 cup extra just in case you need to add more liquid
- 5 inch medium-large gold Yukon potatoes cut into 1 pieces (about 5 cups)
- 3 cups large carrots peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced on the diagonal (about 2 )
- 1 cup medium-large apple peeled, cored, and diced (about 1 )
- 1 cup frozen peas
- Cut the beef into 1 inch cubes and place in a ziplock bag with the shio-koji for one day. I was unable to find shio-koji so I skipped this step, but I'm still including it for those of you who wish to try tenderizing the meat in this way.
- Pour the cut beef into a bowl and season with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
- In a Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium high heat. Once the olive oil is warm add the beef. Brown each side for 3 to 4 minutes. Take beef out of the pot once browned and put on a plate, leaving behind the juices/fat.
- Add a tablespoon of butter and add the onions, garlic, and ginger and cook (stirring occasionally) for 7 minutes. The onions should be soft and creamy and beginning to darken in color.
- Add the flour and stir for 2 minutes. Add the curry powder, garam masala, cayenne pepper, sea salt, ketchup, Tonkatsu sauce, Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, shio koi, and honey. Mix well.
- Slowly pour 1 cup of the beef broth in and deglaze the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, stirring continuously. Add the remaining 3 cups of beef broth and bring the curry to a boil. Turn heat to low, add the beef back in, and simmer for 3 hours with the lid on.
- Add the potatoes, carrots, and apple and simmer on low for 2 more hours. Check the thickness. If you like it how it is, continue to simmer the curry for 1 more hour with the lid on. If you want your beef curry thicker, simmer 1 more hour with the lid off, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pan.
- Add the peas, stirring them in and simmer for 5 more minutes or until the peas are done. Serve hot and steaming on top of rice.