Want to whip up an incredibly tasty Japanese curry in just 20 minutes? This recipe has got you covered with cooking tips, seasoning and tasty toppings.
When you're craving a curry on a busy weeknight, curry mixes like S&B Golden Curry save the day. Plus, there's just 5 key ingredients to keep things nice and simple.
Don't have curry mix to hand? I also have a simple recipe for Japanese Curry Sauce. You can find this alongside, lots of other weeknight-friendly Japanese Recipes like this Japanese Grilled Mackerel and Miso Eggplant on my Japanese recipes page.
The post contains additional information and helpful tips to ensure the recipe turns out great the first time. Please use the link above to jump to the recipe card at the end if you are in a hurry!
- 5 reasons why you'll love this recipe:
- Japanese Curry
- S&B Golden Curry Mix
- Where to buy S&B Golden Curry
- 🛒 Key ingredients:
- Types of Japanese Curry:
- Adjusting the seasoning:
- 🧑🍳 Recipe steps
- The best type of rice to serve with Japanese curry
- Expert Tips
- 🙋 Recipe FAQs
- More Japanese recipes
- 📖 Recipe
- Japanese Curry using S&B Golden Curry
5 reasons why you'll love this recipe:
- Incredibly tasty. A thick, mildly spicy, and slightly sweet umami curry sauce.
- So warming and comforting. Like a hug in a bowl!
- On the table in 20 minutes.
- Customisable with so many ways to adjust the seasoning and add tasty toppings to suit your tastes.
- Perfect for batch cooking and making ahead. Yummy leftovers and freezer-friendly
Japanese curry, or "kare" as it's fondly called in Japan, is like a warm hug in a bowl. It also has an interesting history that started when the Japanese navy sailors got a taste of curry from British naval officers back in the late 1800s. They brought it back to Japan, and from there, it quickly became a beloved part of Japanese cuisine.
Japanese curry is as spicy as Indian or Thai curries, and it's got a signature blend of spices, including cumin, coriander, and turmeric. The sauce is mild, thick and hearty, typically loaded with tender chunks of carrots, potatoes, and onions.
S&B Golden Curry Mix
When it comes to whipping up a tasty Japanese curry quickly, a Curry roux is your best friend. These little blocks contain a mixture of spices, seasonings, and thickening agents compacted into a solid form. All you need to do is add them to a simmering pot of vegetables and protein to transform it into a rich, creamy and flavourful curry sauce.
There are several brands of curry roux to choose from, all with slightly different blends of seasoning and spices. S&B Golden Curry is one of the most popular brands and is also the most accessible curry roux outside of Japan. It's renowned for its rich and comforting flavour. Plus, it comes in three different spice levels, so you can choose mild, medium, or hot.
Where to buy S&B Golden Curry
Otherwise most Asian speciality stores will stock it and you can buy it online at Amazon.
🛒 Key ingredients:
This simple recipe contains just 5 key ingredients:
- Onion: I use regular brown onions, but most onions or shallots will work.
- Carrot is cut into chunks and simmered in the sauce to add texture and sweetness.
- Protein: Chicken is my go-to, but pork and beef also work well.
- Honey: For extra sweetness.
- Curry mix: You can use the widely available S&B Golden Curry or another brand. Choose a spice level based on personal preference. I usually go for medium.
Types of Japanese Curry:
For a swift and straightforward curry, chicken and pork are good choices. They tend to have shorter cooking times compared to beef, but let's look a little deeper into the options.
- Chicken: This isn't the most traditional choice, but it works really well. I like to use thighs because they're succulent, plus they're quick and easy to cook. You can use breasts too, but I personally find them too lean and dry. Leftover cooked rotisserie chicken is another convenient option.
- Pork: Like chicken, it's easy to cook. Cuts like pork loin or tenderloin work well and pork belly is a good choice if you prefer a fattier cut.
- Beef: Typically takes longer to cook than chicken or pork, but its rich flavour goes nicely with the curry sauce. Remember that some cuts like chuck and brisket will require a longer period of slow simmering. If you want types that cook quickly opt for thinly sliced cuts of ribeye or sirloin.
- Vegetarian/vegan: You can add any veggies you want. Roast pumpkin and squash complement the rich sweetness of the sauce and umami mushrooms also work well. You can also add tofu or boiled eggs for extra protein.
Note that the recipe has not been tested with all the substitutions and variations below, so the results cannot be guaranteed.
- Grated apple: this is used in a number of traditional Japanese curry flavours to add extra sweetness and texture.
- Potatoes: Many Japanese curries often include potato chunks simmered in the savoury sauce. It's great if you want a heartier curry, but I personally find it a bit carb-heavy, especially when paired with rice.
- Breaded chicken or pork cutlet. Transforms the dish into the popular Katsu Curry. Want to cook up some super flavourful and crispy chicken cutlets, try my Panko Chicken Recipe.
Adjusting the seasoning:
One of the great things about Japanese curry is how adaptable it is. Here are some ways you can adapt it to suit your tastes.
- Sweet: Add sugar, increase the amount of honey, or add apple sauce.
- Rich: Add butter, dark chocolate, or wine.
- Tangy: With ginger and/or tomato puree.
- Spicey: Chilli powder, cayenne pepper or hot sauce
- Umami: Worcester sauce, soy sauce, or fish sauce.
🧑🍳 Recipe steps
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions! *
Step 1: Place a frying pan on a medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the chicken or pork and cook for a few minutes until it starts to brown. Then remove and set aside.
Step 2: Fry the onions for a few minutes until they are translucent, adding a little more oil if you need to. Add the carrot slices and fry for a few more minutes. Then pour on the water and simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes.
Step 3: Add the curry roux cubes and stir until it thickens then incorporate the honey.
Step 4: Add the browned chicken or pork and simmer for 5 more minutes until cooked through. Serve with rice and your choice of toppings.
The best type of rice to serve with Japanese curry
In Japan curry is served with Japanese short-grain rice and this is my go-to. It's often sold as Sushi rice in Western countries and is available at most grocery stores.
That said, if you don't have Japanese rice you can serve the curry with other types of rice like basmati and jasmine or serve with brown rice for a healthier alternative.
Toppings to enhance the curry's flavour and texture. Here are some options:
- Soft-boiled or poached egg. You could also add some Ajitama (soy-marinated ramen eggs) for an extra pop of umami flavour.
- Tempura chicken, shrimp or vegetables.
- Cheese: Melted cheese, often in the form of a cheese slice, or shredded cheese for a fusion twist,
- Pickled red ginger (Beni Shoga): Has a spicy and tangy flavour that pairs well with curry.
- Green Onions: Or chives can provide a fresh and slightly pungent contrast to the rich curry.
- Crispy Onions: Fried shallots or onions can add a delightful crunch to your curry.
- Brown the meat before adding it to the sauce to enhance its flavour.
- Read the packet instructions. Different brands of curry roux cubes may require different amounts of water.
- Stir the curry regularly to prevent the thick sauce from catching.
- Adjust the seasoning and toppings to suit your tastes.
🙋 Recipe FAQs
The best way to tackle this is to add a little more water. If the consistency of the sauce becomes too thin, add a slurry to thicken it. You may also want to adjust the seasoning if some of the flavours in the curry have been reduced.
Japanese curry is known to be milder than many Indian or Thai Curries. The spice level of the curry will depend on the ingredients used and whether you choose mild, medium or hot curry mix.
It is possible to make Japanese curry in an Instant Pot, although I have never tried it because it's so quick to cook on the stove. I recommend Namiko Hirasawa Chen's Pressure Cooker Japanese Curry Recipe from Just One Cookbook for a specific Instant Pot recipe.
Leftovers taste great the next day, and the curry freezes well too. I recommend cooking up a large batch, so you can save some for later. The curry can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days and frozen for up to 3 months. You can use your stove or microwave to reheat.
Vermont and Java are two other brands that are fairly easy to buy outside Japan. You might also be able to find other brands like Kokumaro, Dinner Curry and Zeppin in specialist grocery stores or online. Each brand will taste a little different and has its own unique blend of seasoning. Remember to read the packet instructions. Different brands may require different amounts of water.
Did you try this recipe?
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Japanese Curry using S&B Golden Curry
- 1 tbsp neutral oil
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 carrots sliced
- 2.5 cups (600 ml) water (Note 1)
- 14 oz (400 g) chicken thighs or pork shoulder chopped into bite-sized pieces (Notes 2&3)
- 4 S&B curry roux cubes (Note 4)
- 1 tbsp honey (Note 5)
- Place a frying pan on a medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the chicken or pork and cook for a few minutes until it starts to brown. Then remove and set aside.
- Fry the onions for a few minutes until they are translucent, adding a little more oil if you need to.
- Then add the carrot slices and fry for a few more minutes.
- Add the water, bring it to boil, then simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes.
- Add the curry roux cubes and stir until it thickens and stir in the honey.
- Add the browned chicken or pork and simmer for 5 more minutes with the lid on until cooked through.
- Serve with rice and your choice of toppings.
- Water: The amount of water in the recipe is for S&B curry mix. If you are using a different brand of curry mix, check the packet instructions, as the amount of water required may vary between brands.
- Chicken thighs: You can use chicken breasts instead of thighs, but I personally find them too lean and dry. Leftover cooked rotisserie chicken is another convenient option.
- Pork shoulder: You can also use pork tenderloin for a leaner option or pork belly for a richer curry.
- S&B curry cubes: Feel free to use another brand or curry mix. Remember to check the instructions on the package. The amount of water you need to add may vary between brands.
- Honey: Substitute with the same amount of sugar.