Japanese Beef CurryJump to Recipe
Rich, savoury, brown curry sauce mixed with hearty vegetables and tender beef chunks and then poured over rice. You don’t need to buy pre-packaged Japanese curry sauce to make this recipe! Make Japanese Curry from scratch with this recipe.
Curry isn’t anything new. Although it’s most commonly associated with Indian cuisine, other Asian countries have their own signature curry dishes.
The main differences between Japanese Curry and other curries are the level of umami and the spice level. Umami is the fifth taste in Japanese cuisine after sweet, salty, sour and bitter. It’s described as a pleasant, savoury taste. Some foods, such as meats and soy sauce, naturally contain more umami. You can enhance the umami of a dish by using specific ingredient combinations too.
In Japanese Curry, the addition of soy sauce and dashi stock intensifies the existing umami from the mixture of spices.
Benefits of Turmeric
Like all curries, Japanese Curry uses a special combination of spices. One of the main ingredients is turmeric.
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), turmeric is used to help alleviate pain, invigorate blood and qi stagnation. It benefits the spleen, which is an important organ in the circulatory system. Its main function is to filter blood and rid it of any harmful toxins.
Since Japanese curry uses turmeric, it’s best to enjoy it during Spring since the most important organ during this season is the liver.
The best part about Japanese Curry is all the different varieties. You can pair this recipe or any of its variations with any type of protein and vegetables. It’s recommended to use hearty vegetables or else they’ll break apart when making the curry.
Here’s a list of popular varieties:
- Katsu Curry – Curry rice served with a breaded pork cutlet on top.
- Dorai Curry – Curry-flavored fried rice, or curry rice with a drier, mincemeat curry sauce.
- Maze Curry – Curry rice, served with the sauce and rice already mixed.
- Curry Don – Curry sauce, thickened and flavoured with mentsuyu or hondashi and served on top of a bowl of rice, to give the curry a Japanese flavour.
- Aigake – Rice served with curry sauce and hayashi sauce (fried beef and onion, cooked with red wine and demi-glace).
- Yaki Curry – Curry rice, topped with a raw egg and baked in an oven.
- Ishiyaki Curry – Curry sauce with rice served in a heated stone bowl, in a similar way to Korean bibimbap.
- Soup Curry – a watery, broth-like curry sauce served with chunky ingredients such as a chicken leg and coarsely-cut vegetables.
You can use this curry sauce recipe to make any of these variations! We’ve kept it simple for you and gone with a simple curry beef recipe. You can skip the chicken or replace it with another protein of your choice though. But don’t be scared and get creative! The possibilities are endless!
Do note that this recipe makes a lot of curry but don’t worry! You can keep leftovers in a glass (not plastic or it will stain) airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days and in the freezer for a month.
Japanese Beef Curry Recipe
Curry Powder (Optional) - makes 3 ½ tbsp:
- 1 tbsp turmeric powder
- 1 ½ tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ¾ tsp ground fenugreek
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp ground fennel
- ½ tsp ground star anise
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp ground all-spice
Roux (Optional) - makes ⅓ cup:
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 4 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, (optional for spicy)
- 2 lb chuck steak
- salt and pepper, (to season)
- 2 medium carrots
- 2 medium onions
- 2 medium russet potatoes
- ½-inch knob of ginger
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 ½ tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 cups dashi broth
- 1 medium apple, (fiji apple is recommended, used to add sweetness)
- 1 tbsp honey, (optional)
- 1 package curry roux, (7-8 oz store-bought or ⅓ cup homemade included in recipe)
- 1 ½ tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tbsp cornstarch, (optional, for thicker curry)
- Combine all the ground spices for the curry powder together in a bowl.
- Pour the spice mix into a pan and heat it over low heat. Stir frequently to prevent burning and toast it until it becomes fragrant. Once fragrant, transfer the spice mix to a plate or bowl to cool.
- Once cool, the curry powder is ready to use. This recipe makes more than the needed amount so store any extra in a jar.
- To make the roux, start by melting butter over low heat.
- After the butter is completely melted, add the flour and stir to combine. It should look smooth and thick.
- Continue stirring or else the roux will burn. Cook for another 15 to 20 minutes over low heat.
- When the roux has become a light brown colour, add the garam masala, curry powder and cayenne pepper. You can omit the cayenne pepper if you don’t want your curry to be too spicy.
- Stir everything together and remove from heat. Your roux is ready to use. This should be enough roux for this recipe but if you have extra, store it in an airtight container after cooling. You can leave it in the fridge for a month or freeze for 3 to 4 months.
- Now to make the actual curry! Prep your protein of choice. If you are following this recipe and using beef, cut them into bite-sized pieces if not already in chunks. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper and set aside.
- Peel your carrots and potatoes and then cut them into about 1 ½ inch pieces. Soak your potato chunks in water for 15 minutes to remove excess starch.
- Peel and cut your onions in wedges.
- After, peel your ginger and garlic. Grate your ginger and make sure to save the juice. Mince your garlic finely.
Cooking the Curry:
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and sauté them until they start to become translucent.
- Add in the grated ginger and garlic.
- Add in the beef and cook for 5 minutes or until it’s no longer pink.
- After, add in the carrots and dashi broth. Bring everything to a boil. As it’s boiling, skim any scrum and fat that rises to the surface.
- Peel your apple as you wait for the broth to boil. Once boiling, grate your apple into the broth.
- Do a quick taste test. Add 1 tbsp of honey if needed. Mix everything together and let it simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- When 20 minutes have passed, ladle 1 or 2 scoops of your curry broth into a saucepan and add the curry roux to it. Mix the broth and roux together until it’s smooth. Then add the roux mixture back into your pot of broth and mix everything together.
- If you are using store-bought curry roux, turn the heat to low and put 1 to 2 blocks of it into your ladle. Let it slowly dissolve in the ladle with some broth using a spoon or chopsticks. Once dissolved, mix it together with the rest of the broth and repeat the process with the remaining roux blocks.
- Add the soy sauce and ketchup and bring the curry back to a simmer uncovered on low heat. Stir occasionally and let it simmer until the curry becomes thick (about 5 more minutes).
- If you would like a thicker curry, scoop some of the curry into a bowl and dissolve 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Then mix it back into the pot.
- Turn off the heat and it’s ready to serve. Japanese curry is best served with rice on the side. Enjoy!Note: This is a lot of curry but worry not! It stores well. You can keep leftovers in a glass (not plastic or it will stain) airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days and in the freezer for a month.