This is The Japanese Curry's Recipe!
“Curry-rice” can be considered as the national food of Japan now. It is a unique existence that Indian cuisine which has become popular in Europe was introduced into Japan and developed as Japan's unique food culture at the time of civilization after the Meiji Restoration (1868). Let's unravel the feature of the brilliant Japanese food “curry-rice,” which has grown to be re-imported as “Japanese curry” to India, the birthplace of curry, along with its transition and history!
Why did curry-rice evolve in Japan? What is the reason for achieving its evolution?
· “Curry (Kari)” was inherited from India through Britain
The origin of Japanese curry-rice is said to be European style curry. Karee is “curry” in English, but the theory that the origin comes from the accent of “Kari,” which means sauce or soup in Tamil in the southern part of India, is persuasive. In the 17th century, India was a British colony. It is said that the British who went to India around this time, arranged Indian “Kari” into European style and it became to be called “curry” when the menu added to the royal menu.
· Did Western roux recipe influence Japanese curry-rice?
The European curry has changed from the Indian spice-based dish to the recipe made with a roux that Europeans frequently use for home cooking. Its characteristic is stir-frying flour with butter or olive oil and adding uniquely arranged curry powder. In the UK, it turned to a “stewed dish,” which simmers meat and vegetables with spiced sauce in the late 18th century, then “curry powder” that is prepared beforehand with spices was commercialized in the 19th century. The British curry that thickens with curry powder and wheat flour spread out as a home cooking.
· “Curry (Koruli)” introduced and spread when Yokohama Port opened for trading.
Photo: National Diet Library Digital Collection
It is said that this British style curry was introduced into Japan when Yokohama Port opened on June 2, 1859, the year after the Japan-US Treaty of Amity and Commerce was concluded. The first book in Japan to introduce the dish called “curry” is in Yukichi Fukuzawa's “Zotei Ka-Ei Tsugo” (1860) in which the description "Curry(Koruli)" is there. After that, the recipe and the way to making thickening sauce with curry powder and wheat flour were introduced in the book “Seiyo Ryori Shinan” and “Seiyo Ryori Tsu” in 1872. In 1873, “rice-curry” was served at the schools where train the officers of the Japanese Army, then the Japanese Navy that was modeled after the British Navy adopted British style curry in 1908. Around this time, soldiers who had biased nutritional balance from mainly eating white rice have died often due to beriberi, but the beriberi drastically declined when the British navy's curry was adopted for meals. The curry adopted at that time was arranged to match the British Navy's curry to Japanese rice, and it is regarded as the roots of current Japanese curry-rice. The curry-rice established as a military meal was transmitted to each family by soldiers who learned how to make it, and spread throughout Japan. The menu of curry-rice is handed down to the current Self-Defense Forces as well and it is served every Friday.
· “Curry-rice” took root to the home cooking at the time of Japan’s high economic growth period.
The curry that came from England in the early Meiji era quickly penetrated Japanese diet. Curry-rice has been offered to improve students' nutritional status at the idea of Dr. Clark who arrived as a vice principal at Sapporo Agricultural College (present Hokkaido University) in 1876. Potatoes, carrots, and onion, the ingredients of curry were produced a lot in Hokkaido, and as it was cultivated even at the college, so these settled as standard ingredients.
Japan received a lot of spices from India when the food situation was very poor at right after the end of the war. Also, the people involved in the curry industry tried hard to spread the curry. As a result, the curry was adopted nationwide as a school meal after World War II.
· Curry-rice evolved with Japan’s economic growth!
It was initially a time-consuming dish to taste with curry powder and to thicken with flour, but instant curry powder launched for the first time by a medicine wholesaler “Yahei Imamura” in Doshomachi, Osaka in 1903. After that, instant curry called “Home curry” that is the mixture of curry powder, wheat flour, oils, fats, and seasoning was sold by “Inada Food Manufacturing,” current House Foods, in 1926, then curry became easier to make at home. Furthermore, retort curry was put on sale in 1969 in the period of high economic growth, and curry became increasingly familiar to Japanese people.
What is the difference between Indian and Japanese curry?
· The decisive point of difference is “runny or thick.”
Indian curry is basically as smooth as soup, but Japanese curry is thick because it uses roux. Also, the main part of Indian curry is spice, so spices are more important than the taste of the ingredients. Japanese curry has evolved as a completely different food as using less spice to bring the best out of the ingredients. Moreover, there are many people in Hinduism and Islam in India and can’t eat beef or pork for religious reasons, but beef curry and pork curry are the mainstream in Japan.
· Indian style to eat by hand, Japanese style to eat with a spoon
The Indian curry is eaten with long and fluffy non-stick Indica rice or Nan bread, but Japanese curry is eaten with sticky white rice. By the way, in southern India where eating rice as a staple food combines non-sticky Indica rice and spicy soup style curry, but it is common to dip thick curry with thin baked bread such as Nan or Chapati in northern India where wheat production is prosperous. You can see that the styles are different depending on the region in India, but it is common to use their hands to eat. However, Japanese curry-rice has evolved into a curry, which eating like a Western meal with a spoon and it has been recognized as a completely different food.
What is the difference between curry-rice and rice-curry?
· Unified into curry-rice when the Tokyo Olympic Games
The curry in Japan has a different way to be called depending on the shop even nowadays. Although there are various theories on the definition, it seems that curry serves on top of rice is “Rice-curry,” and “Curry rice” refers to the ones with the rice and the curry sauce served separately. It is said that it was changed rapidly from rice-curry to curry-rice by the time of the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964, but curry began to settle as home cooking by that time, and curry has a meaning more like curry roux, and the word of curry-rice spread because it tilted in a direction that emphasizes curry rather than rice.
What is roux of Japanese curry-rice made from?
・The base of the thickness of curry roux is wheat flour and fat
Ordinary curry roux is mainly composed of spice, flour, starch, fat, and seasonings. Roux on the market has a variety of blends for each product, and you can choose according to the ingredients you use or spiciness as you like. Various oils and fats are used such as butter, beef tallow, and palm oil, and spices are blended in dozens of varieties to create multiple tastes. Umami seasonings considering compatibility with ingredients are also mixed, and there are chutney, fruits, seafood and beef extracts contained in some products. Recently, it has become possible to choose the roux, which can make smooth curry with the combination of less flour and starch.
How to eat Japanese curry-rice
· It is correct to eat according to the western-style table manners
Japanese curry-rice is categorized into one of the western foods, so the right way to eat is using the table manner of traditional hotels and western-style. When rice and roux are served on a plate, basically it is not good to mix. It is smart to eat without making a plate dirty as minimizing the spread of roux and not to leave a rice grain.
When you start eating, you can start from the border of rice and roux and gather rice and roux to eat. If you eat the way to make the gap little by little in the center of the dish, you can keep the rice space as white and reduce to make a plate dirty with the roux. And put the spoon vertically as possible when scooping rice, and lift it in a bite-size, then you can finish eating beautifully without rice grains remaining on the plate.
· An implicit rule of eating rice on roux.
If roux is served in a sauce-pot separately from rice, you shouldn’t pour them all at once. Pour two or three mouthfuls of the roux in front of the rice mountain with a ladle. You can finish eating beautifully without making a plate unnecessarily dirty if you pour the same amount at the same spot when you finish eating each portion.
As mentioned above, Japanese curry-rice is categorized as western-style food, and rice is defined as vegetables in western cuisine, so a fork may be served instead of a spoon depending on the shop. In that case, if you eat rice on the back of the fork and approaching it to the roux, you can also eat smart and neat. Let’s try to eat the correct way to eat curry rice once.
This is Japanese curry-rice! Let’s introduce a recipe of curry-rice!
· Beef, chicken and vegetables! Here is the basic recipe for the home cooking “classic curry-rice recipe”!
The representative of Japanese food “curry-rice” has achieved its own evolution. Each family probably has a “taste of mom’s cooking.” So let’s introduce a general and basic curry-rice recipe here.
First of all, potatoes, onions, carrots are the three basic vegetables used for curry. It is also good to add seasonal items such as broccoli, eggplant, okra if you like. You can make “vegetable curry” only using them, but if you use beef as the main ingredient, it becomes “beef curry,” if you use chicken meat, it becomes “chicken curry,” and if it is pork, it can be “pork curry.” In addition to the main, if you add seafood such as shrimp, scallop, octopus, or squid, the material extract comes out into the soup and it will be delicious.
· Stir fry vegetables and meat before simmer them.
Heat salad oil in a pot and stir fry main ingredients and vegetables, which cut into bite-sized pieces. Add water when all the ingredients are cooked, then simmer it for about 15 minutes with low to medium heat until the ingredients become soft while skimming the scum off the top.
・If you arrange after melting roux, It turns to the taste of home.
When the ingredients become soft, turn off the heat and break the roux to put in. When the roux melts completely, simmer it for about 10 minutes with low heat until it becomes thick, then it is done.
One of the reasons why curry-rice has become popular is that each family can arrange, for example, adding fresh cream or Worcester sauce as a secret flavor to finish off. It might be fun to try making unconventional curry-rice, which you have never eaten.
The recipe of the original Navy’s curry-rice, which regarded as the origin of Japanese curry-rice is introduced on the homepage of the Maritime Self Defense Force. Why don’t you make it and eat at home while thinking about curry-rice ancestors?http://www.mod.go.jp/msdf/kanmeshi/menu/cr/026/index.html
Where is Japan’s best curry consumption prefecture?
The prefecture that consumes curry the most in Japan is Tottori prefecture. Because Tottori is famous as a production place of scallions, and consumption of curry has increased naturally as Rakkyo (pickled-scallions) and curry are eaten together. Also there are many two-income families in Tottori, so curry is often cooked as a cook-ahead recipe to save their time.
By the way, Niigata Prefecture has the nation’s highest purchase amount of curry roux. It is said that because there are few curry specialty shops and Indian restaurants in Niigata, by its recoil, arranged curry at home or restaurant is made and eaten frequently.
In restaurants in Niigata, you can see unique curry menus such as curry flavored fried chicken, curry-ramen, curry- sandwiches, curry-Italian, curry-fried noodles, cold curry noodle, curry-dorayaki and so on.
Let's eat Japanese curry-rice here! Curry-rice restaurants recommended by JOURNEY of JAPAN
· Eat the origin of curry-rice in restaurants
“Jiyuken’s specialty curry, Osaka”
A long-established traditional Western cuisine restaurant since 1910. The “mixed curry” called “Meibutsu curry” is popular here since its founding. In the time when there was no rice cooker with a warming-function yet, the “Meibutsu curry” devised from the desire that they wanted to serve customers steaming-hot curry-rice. It is different from the classic curry rice, but continues to be loved by the gastronomes as a masterpiece of Japan’s unique curry-rice, which has evolved into.
“Jiyuken Namba main shop”
●3-1-34, Namba, Chuo-ku, Osaka
●Closed on Mondays
“Bondy’s European-style curry, Tokyo”
Bondy in Kandajimbocho is a popular shop, considered as the birthplace of European style curry, which had become the roots of Japanese curry-rice. The founder who was studying French cuisine created the complex taste by blending spices, fruits, vegetables, red wine along with brown sauce that is the basis of French cuisine. It is unforgettable taste once you eat. Famous potatoes served as an appetizer is also the secret of popularity.
“European curry Bondy, Jimbocho main shop”
●2F Kanda Kosho Center Bldg., 2-3, Kandajimbocho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
●Open all year
· Taste the origin of curry-rice at home
“Retort curry from Hachi Foods, Osaka”
The drug wholesaler “Yamatoya” released first domestic instant curry powder “Hachi (Bee) Curry” in 1903, and still sells spices, curry roux, retort curry and so on as “Hachi Foods.” “Hachi curry” is curry powder, made from carefully selected 22-kind blended spices comes in the package of bee mark, which hasn’t been changed since its start. You can enjoy nostalgic taste if you use it for homemade curry-rice. The retort curry that can be easy to enjoy eating is popular as well.
“Pure India style curry from Shinjuku Nakamuraya, Tokyo”
In Shinjuku Nakamuraya that introduced Indian curry, not British style curry which was popular at the time in 1927, their retort curry that hands down the pure Indian style curry to the present is popular. Instead of using wheat flour to thicken, their pure Indian style curry uses onion completely stir-fried, yogurt and bouillon to thicken. It is particular about selected ingredients, rich in flavor, and there are still a lot of persistent fans.
Summary of Japanese curry-rice
How was it? The “curry-rice” developed as a unique food culture in Japan and became established as a nutritious national food, which everyone can enjoy. It is not an overstatement to say that it supported the growth of children after the war as well as supported the Japanese economy. The popular taste that grown to such an extent that they are now reimported as “Japanese curry-rice” to India, the country where they were born, will continue to evolve around the world from now on.
*The above information was last updated August 27, 2018. For further information, please contact the facilities directly.
"Like" if you think this article is interesting