The “national dish” – curry-rice – is said to be eaten by many Japanese people once a week. It’s more than 150 years since the Japanese came across this exotic dish that originated from India. This simple ‘feast’ of cooked rice covered in meat and vegetables boiled in a curry sauce has become one of the mainstays of the Japanese diet and is not only eaten at home and in restaurants around town, but has even made its way as far as space. The Curry Culture knows no bounds, as we create one Japanese dish after another, some of them combining the flavor of traditional dashi(Japanese soup stock) with that of curry.
Passed on by the British 150 Years Ago
Curry came to Japan in the late 19th century. It was introduced by the British, initially as a luxury food, but in due course unique Japanese recipes were created that included meat boiled up with potatoes, onions and carrots, and it became popular as a nutritious meal. Subsequently, we came up with unique, Japanese flavors and curry-rice became a firm favorite in Japanese homes when, in 1963, a mild, instant curry for children came onto the market, replacing the traditional image of “hot curry.” It then went on to be regarded as a national dish.
In view of its flexibility and compatibility with all sorts of food, curry has been mixed with various local ingredients to create local specialty curries throughout Japan. Some of the popular ones arekaki-curry boiled up with salt-water oysters, andJapanese wagyu-curry that uses the finest grade of Japanese beef as a real luxury. Boil-in-the-bag versions of these curries can also be found in many specialty shops in Tokyo.
There is also a curry developed by a leading food manufacturer especially for those staying on the International Space Station (ISS). This curry has a stronger, spicy flavor than the curry on earth to compensate for the dull sense of taste caused by changes in the balance of fluids in the human body in outer space. The curry helps to supplement nutrients that tend to be lacking on-board, and includes many additives such as ukon(wild turmeric), calcium and vitamin D.
One of the great appeals of curry-rice is that you are free to enjoy it as you please, boiling up your own selection of ingredients such as meat, sea-food, or vegetables etc., and popping them on top of your rice. Katsu-curry is a dish topped with hearty, pork cutlets, which is popular outside of Japan too.
Hearty katsu-curry. A delicious smelling, fried pork cutlet is one of the most popular toppings
Space Curry – developed for astronauts (Photo courtesy of House Foods)
Curry Soba and Curry Ramen
Although we use the overall term curry-rice, there are in fact several variations. There is soup-curry, where rice is soaked up in a smooth, easy-to-eat soup-style curry. Then there is “dry-curry” where rice is stir-fried with ground beef, chopped vegetables and nuts. And well-established stores throughout Japan are proud to provide them for the discerning palate. “white curry” has hit the spotlight in recent years. This has a white sauce base and its color is nothing like curry, making it seems a bit odd, but its mellow taste is attracting more and more fans.
Meanwhile, along with the spread of curry-rice, curry flavor has also been added to various Japanese dishes and transformed them. First on the list of popular dishes that appeared shortly after curry was introduced to Japan at the beginning of the 20th century were curry udon and curry soba, combining curry with udon or soba noodles. The delicate taste of Japanese dashi (soup stock) goes really well with the flavor of curry and in recent years “curry pot,” where meat and vegetables, or fish, are all cooked up in a single pot, have become a staple dish, popular throughout homes and bars.
Left: There are many versions of curry-rice, like this soup curry
Traditional Japanese udon noodles, combined with curry and reborn with the exciting taste of curry-udon
In addition, in recent years “curry ramen” has been all the rage, combining curry and ramen. Once you taste this combination of curry and Chinese soup, you are addicted. Curry Cup Noodles are where curry ramen originated and in the 40 years since their release they have enjoyed on-going popularity, with more varieties created such as spicy ones and those with cheese added.
Curry bread is a fried bread roll that contains a dry-ish curry; and since its debut in the early 20th century, it has been much-loved as a snack that can be enjoyed any time.
First launched 40 years ago – “Curry Cup Noodle” © Nissin Foods Holdings Co.
Dig in! A savory curry bread roll, fried in
The development of instant curry roux has spread curry culture throughout the Japanese
Creds : Web-Japan