Curry rice is the perfect Japanese comfort food. It’s hearty, filling, sweet and just a little bit spicy, being a much milder version of Indian curry introduced to Japan by way of the British (you’re welcome, Japan!).
One of the best things about curry rice is how easy it is to customize it. You can subtly alter the flavour of the sauce by adding honey, apples, or even chocolate, and you can switch up serving methods by swapping the rice for udon or ramen. You can pour it over deep-fried pork katsu or seafood, or throw in all kinds of vegetables… the possibilities are endless!
But if you’re looking for ways to really step up your curry game, then we recommend trying some of these tips and tricks from professional curry chefs…
The standard formula for making easy curry rice at home is to fry up some onions, veggies and meat, then add water and finally curry roux (solidified curry paste sold in handy blocks that look like yummy chocolate). But there are a number of little things you can do to take even store-bought curry from cheap ‘n’ tasty evening meal to a dish to be genuinely proud of.
Tip 1 for extra-yummy curry rice is to make sure those onions are nice and fried before you add in the rest. Chefs recommend adding just enough water to keep your onions from burning while frying to make sure that the full flavour of the onions is brought out.
Tip 2: Top curry chefs recommend going the extra mile and adding in some spices to your sauce, even if you’re using boxed roux already. For extra colour, add a pinch of turmeric, and for fragrance, cumin or coriander. If you want your curry to have some extra bite, meanwhile, throw in some cayenne pepper.
Tip 3: Don’t stop at just adding water and roux if you want your curry to be extra thick and creamy. Add in some milk, cream or yogurt, too.
Tip 4: Top curry chefs also recommend bringing out the subtle undertones of the curry flavour by adding tomatoes, pickled plums, wine, citrus fruits, or black vinegar.
Tip 5: While this particular “tip” can be found on the back of most boxed roux, apparently hardly anyone tends to actually do it. When you’re adding the curry roux blocks, it’s essential that you remove the pot from the heat first and allow the roux blocks to melt into the already hot pot without applying direct heat. In fact, you don’t need to have the roux in there that long at all, and over-cooking the roux can wind up ruining the taste of the curry. Hmm… the more you know!
We hope that these curry tips will prove useful the next time you’re whipping up a batch of the yummy brown stuff. With its sweet, mild flavour, curry rice is the perfect introduction to Japanese cooking for those who are just getting started. Enjoy!