Japan’s National Comfort Dish
When you think of Japanese’s comfort foods, ramen might be the first thing that comes to mind. In reality, Japan’s national comfort dish can arguably be the Japanese curry, also known as “kare-raisu”, or curry rice.
Ramen is best eaten in ramen shops were the master chef takes hours upon hours to produce the perfect broth. Japanese curry, on the other hand, can be best enjoyed both in restaurants and at home which makes it the ultimate comfort food.
The History of Japanese Curry
The British navy first introduced curry to Japan during the Meiji era in the 1850s. This coincided with the British colonial rule over India. As such, this new gourmet dish was exclusively served to the wealthy class.
The difference between Indian curry and Japanese curry lies in the curry powder. Indian curry requires a mixture of spices, whereas Japanese curry only uses curry powder which rooted from a British recipe.
Considered a Western food because of its British introduction, the Japanese adjusted the flavors to suit their own palate. The curry gained popularity in the 1960s when the Japanese expanded the dish’s reach to the everyday person. Supermarkets now sold retort packages and roux blocks which could be easily cooked at home.
Today’s Japanese Curry
Today’s Japanese curry is typically made with beef, pork, or chicken along with onions, carrots, mushrooms, and or potatoes. Sweet pickles (fukujinzuke) and picked pearl onions (rakkyo) accompany the dish as condiments.
Local curries incorporate regional specialties. For instance, Matsusaka beef curry in the Mie Prefecture and Kurobuta pork curry in the Kagoshima Prefecture.
The dish’s popularity spreads over to creations beyond curry rice, too. Curry can be found with udon noodles, inside bread, and poured over crispy katsu.
Types of Japanese Curry
In restaurants, the Japanese curry is flavored according to the chef’s palate. In supermarkets, you can choose the types of curries to make at home. Amakuchi is sweet, chukara is medium spicy, and karakuchi is hot spicy.
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