When I lived in Japan, I quickly learned how good Japanese curry is. Widely available all over the country in fast-foodish curry restaurants, Japanese curry is the ultimate comfort food.
Unlike Indian or African curries, it is rarely ever spicy. Even if it is called "spicy," it barely has any bite. Instead it is warm, slightly sweet and soothing as can be with its thick brown fragrant goodness.
Cubes to make Japanese-style curry are available in the Asian food section of most grocery stores, or in Asian food stores themselves. These are realy simple to make and only require that you mix some vegetables and protein in a pan, add water and the cubes and you have a meal in a matter of minutes.
I have searched for a recipe to replicate this yumminess without all the MSG and other processed business in those cubes. And after many tries, I found the one! And even better, you can make it in a slow cooker!
Slow-Cooker Japanese-Style Beef Curry
adapted from Long Way on a Little: An Earth Lover's Companion for Enjoying Meat, Pinching Pennies and Living Deliciously by Shannon Hayes
- 4 medium white or yellow onions
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 5 carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 3/4 cup flour, divided
- 1 T salt
- 1 T pepper
- 3 T curry powder (or less on preference)
- 3 pounds stew beef, cubed
- 7 T butter
- 4 cups canned tomatoes, diced and undrained
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 t garam masala
Place the onions, garlic, carrots and potatoes on the bottom of your slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine a 1/2 cup of flour, the salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of curry powder. Coat all the beef in this mixture. Melt three tablespoons of butter in a saucepan. Add the meat in batches and brown all sides. Add more butter if needed to complete browning the beef.
Add the beef on top of the slow cooker. Pour the tomatoes and beef broth into the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 1/2 hours or 4 hours on high. Stir in the garam masala when the timer beeps and prepare the curry roux.
For the curry roux:
Add the remaining 4 T of butter to a saucepan and melt it over medium high heat. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour and 2 tablespoons of curry powder. Spoon in two cups of the liquid from the slow cooker and blend it with the butter-flour mixture until creamy. Add back into the slow cooker, mix well and serve with white rice.
Garam Masala Tips: Store-bought garam masala is widely available in a well-stocked spice section at most grocery stores. However, if you are unable to find it, you can make your own. For this recipe, I used one garam masala I always have on hand because it is useful in a pinch and also is used in many of my favorite Indian curries.
Coriander-Scented Untoasted Blend Garam Masala (Bin Bhuna Hua Garam Masala) from 660 Curries:
- 2 T coriander seeds
- 1 t cumin seeds
- 1 t black peppercorns
- 1/2 t whole cloves
- 1/2 t cardamom seeds
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 3 or 4 Thai chiles, dried
Place all ingredients in a spice grinder and grind until fine. Store in a tightly sealed container away from heat and light. I use cleaned yeast jars to store spice mixtures like this, as they are typically made of a dark-colored glass and help keep the spice blends viable for longer.