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Japanese Curry Recipe by Pickled Plum

…you may be surprised to hear that Japan’s favorite dish, by far, is…*drum roll* Curry with rice,Japanese Curry Rice to be precise and known in Japan as Karēraisu (カレーライス).

Curry rice served in limitless variations, is regularly found by surveys to be the most popular dish both at home and at countless restaurants throughout Japan. To visitors from abroad it may be a surprising result, because Japan is not traditionally known for its spices, indeed traditionally, Japanese palates have preferred more delicate tastes and avoided very spicy food and it is worth noting that while Japanese Curry Rice is undoubtedly delicious, it’s not usually all that hot or spicy by western standards.

So how did Japan arrive at this state of affairs, where the de facto national dish is not Sushi as most would assume, but Curry?

If you ask most Japanese people about the origins of the nation’s favorite dish or how long it has been a staple of the dinner plate, you will, as with the origins of so many ‘traditions’ we take for granted, likely get a vague answer, usually just guesses. A popular and reasonable guess you might hear in Japan is that curry must have arrived along with the introduction of Buddhism from India in around 500 AD. However the truth is it arrived a lot more recently, indeed within the living memory of some Japan’s oldest residents, and in a far more indirect fashion.


Japanese Beef Curry by


  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil

  • 1 pound stewing beef

  • 1 large onion peeled and finely chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon ginger peeled and minced

  • 1 apple peeled, cored and minced, like honeycrisp

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 2 large carrots peeled and roughly chopped on the bias (rengiri style)

  • 1 large potato peeled and roughly chopped

  • 1 teaspoon garam masala

  • 4 tablespoons curry powder

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 cups red wine

  • 1 1//2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 4 cups water


  1. In a large pot over medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon peanut oil and stewing beef. Cook for 5 minutes or until meat is cooked through.

  2. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

  3. Lower heat to medium low and in the same pot, add remaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil with onions and cook for about 10 minutes, until onions are translucent and slightly caramelized.

  4. Add garlic, ginger and apple and cook for 2 minutes.

  5. Add flour and stir for 1 minute.

  6. Add carrots, potatoes, garam masala and curry powder and stir well.

  7. Add tomato paste, stir well and slowly add red wine and bring to a boil.

  8. Add sugar, soy sauce and water, stir and bring to a boil again.

  9. Add beef and lower heat to a simmering boil. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.

  10. Take the lid off and cook for another 30 minutes or until curry soup has reduced by a third.

  11. Season with salt and pepper and serve with rice.

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