Five simple ways to take your Japanese curry rice to the next level

RocketNews 24:

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!

Disney’s Baymax appears in curry, hot pots, and more, thanks to cheesy food-based pun

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RocketNews 24:

You might not guess it, given the country’s well-known acceptance of stoicism as an admirable virtue, but Japan absolutely loves puns. In fact, the characteristics of the Japanese language, such as multiple potential pronunciations for the same kanji character, make it a veritable pun-producing machine.

For example, the character for “rice,” 米, is usually read as kome. When it’s combined with other characters, though, it’s read as mai or bei, with the latter being pronounced like the English word “bay.”

Of course, that also means bei is pronounced like the first half of Baymax, the loveable caretaker/combat robot from Disney’s Big Hero 6. And now that Japanese fans of the film have figured out how to put a little rice into Baymax, they’re also coming up with ways to put a little Baymax into their meals by making Baymax curry rice, rice balls, and nabe hot pots.

You can thank pop idol Haruna Kojima for kicking off the culinary trend. Earlier this month, the AKB48 member found herself with some extra time on her hands, so rather than make a plain old plate of curry rice, she decided to shape the fluffy white grains into a likeness of Baymax, adding two small, connected circles of dried seaweed to recreate his simple facial expression.

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Identifying her creation as Baymax, but written with the kanji for rice, Kojima posted the above photo to her Instagram account, where it put smiles on the faces and rumbles in the stomachs of all who gazed upon its appetite-stimulating cuteness. Even better, in contrast to the difficulty in trying to craft an edible version of Pokémon’s Pikachu or Yo-Kai Watch’s Jibanyan, Baymax’s soft, simple form and almost entirely white color scheme means that just about everyone can manage this cooking project, as proven by the steady stream of Rice-max photos that have been popping up since.

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Even six weeks after its release, Big Hero 6 is still going strong in Japan, wherepositive word of mouth about the films variety of action, comedy, and heartfelt emotion made it the highest-grossing movie in the country last weekend, just like it was for the three weekends before that. It’s a testament to the film’s broad appeal that stretches beyond just the kiddie demographic, and includes fans old enough to enjoy a little alcoholic refreshment with their Baymax curry.
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Of course, Japan has a lot more ways to eat rice than just covering it with curry roux. How about a Baymax oyako-don, a rice bowl with chicken, egg, and the cuddly robot?

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If you’re after even lighter fare, you can combine rice and miso soup, which is also a great way to make use of leftovers of the two Japanese staples.

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It’s also worth bearing in mind that the rice/bei/Baymax pun still holds up even if you’re not using plain white rice. For example, mochi (rice cakes) are just as appropriate for adding a dash of Disney to your hot pot.

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