Help me make better Japanese Curry!

So, I love curry of the Japanese variety. Ever since I was exposed to it at a Japanese restaurant in San Francisco years ago, I’ve been trying to reproduce the wonderful flavor. While I have gotten a bit better, it still is a complete insult to all Japanese cuisine. Don’t get me wrong, it tastes nice but…something’s just wrong.

So, how I usually make it. Sadly, the easiest curry roux for me to get is the Golden Curry you can find at most grocery stores. I know it’s not the top of the line, but I do occasionally make the 90 minute trip to the Japanese market to pick up Vermont Curry, which I find tastier. Anyway, I start by sauteing chopped yellow onions and some minced garlic in a bit of vegetable oil. Then I add some stew meat and brown it up. Per the instructions on the back, I add in the water and allow the meat and carrots to simmer for a while. I used to put the potatoes in at this point too but they always seemed to give the curry a ‘mealy’ texture. So now I cook them in a separate pot and add them at the end.

Once everything’s pretty much cooked, I’ll add in the roux. Stir it in and once it’s all smooth, serve over rice. But, it’s always so thin. I can never attain the thick, gravy like curry I’ve found in Japanese restaurants. Even if I let it simmer for a while before serving, it still comes out runny. And the taste…it’s always so…bland. Watered down even. But I’m using the correct amount of water.

I’ve tried looking up tips online but they never end well. One person even recommended adding KETCHUP to the curry to give it a better taste. Me, being so desperate for that perfect curry, gave it a try. And I have to say, they’re nuts. It tasted awful. So…does anyone have any good tips on how I can do a better job? I tried asking my daughter’s Japanese grandma but…apparently she doesn’t cook… :expressionless: Just my luck.

A cornstarch slurry would solve your problems, as would using less water and perhaps more curry cubes.

Make yourself a slurry of cold water and cornstarch (or flour) and mix it in towards the end of cooking to get it to the thickness you like. Start with one tablespoon corn starch and an equal amount of water (or a little bit more–enough to dissolve the cornstarch), add it to the hot liquid (must be near boiling), stir, and see how thick it gets? Thick enough? Then stop. Not thick enough? Add another dose. Cook it long enough to get the strachy flavor out (about 2 minutes). When I make Japanese curry, I usually use a mix of the Golden or Vermont Curry cubes and add some S&P curry powder to it as well, maybe some more salt or a stock cube, etc. Just taste it and adjust it as you see fit.

That’s all you need to do. A cornstarch slurry will get it as thick as you want it, and then you just need to adjust the flavors to your tastes.

As a general rule, if what you do leads to a watery result, use less water.

For a one-off dish, you need to look at techniques like:
(1) pulling out all the solid ingredients, and reducing the liquid over a hot temperatuire (you take off the solid ingredients so that they don’t get over-cooked); or
(2) adding a thickener like corn starch.

However, if you’ve had results in the past that were too watery, add less water in the initial mix. Watch the dish carefully during cooking, and add a little water if it dries out too much, and it should be fine.