The BEST EVER Japanese Chicken Curry
I have been teaching a series of Japanese cooking classes for the Fort Worth Japanese Society since April of this year.  This three part series started with a class on hot pot (nabemono) dishes, followed by a class on donburi dishes such as katsudon, magurodon, and gyudon.  The last class was on yoshoku, or Western inspired dishes.  I wanted to teach a class on some of my favorite Japanese comfort foods that I associate with living in Japan and also with foods I watched my mother cook at home.
Yoshoku and Chuka foods are technically not Japanese foods but the Japanese have made them their own by adapting these imported foods to Japanese tastes.  Yoshoku began by altering Western recipes but over time some dishes evolved that are not based on European foods, such as chicken rice and omurice (omelet rice).  Chinese dishes (chuka) such as gyoza are very popular in Japan.  I wanted to spotlight these foods for my last class in the Fort Worth Japanese Society cooking series.  In recent trips to Japan I spotted these dishes in display cases everywhere. 

I’m ready to start the class.

Students ready for the class to begin
Japanese chicken curry was the first dish I made.  We could let the curry cook during the class so it would be ready to eat by the end of class.  I have made this curry many times and it is by far the best Japanese curry I’ve ever had.  It is by no means like authentic Indian curry where all the spices are hand ground.  The Japanese put together their own blend and it works just fine.  I do not use the blocks of curry seasoning because they are full of MSG and other processed foods and don’t taste good to me. 

Making curry from scratch is not difficult but it is harder than throwing together a packaged paste and some meat and vegetables.  You have to make a roux and use the freshest spices and vegetables to have the best curry you’ve ever tasted, but it is so worth it!  Feel free to use tofu, beef, or even shrimp in this curry.
(See photo of the finished curry at the top of this post.)

Japanese Chicken Curry
3 cups chicken stock (homemade or low sodium Swanson’s)
1 T vegetable or canola oil
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1″ chunks
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 T butter
1 tsp grated ginger
1 medium onion, 1/2 diced, 1/2 cut into 1″ pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
4 T flour
2 T S & B curry powder
2 T crushed San Marzano tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 carrot, sliced into 1/2″ thick rounds
1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
1 small Fuji apple, peeled, cored, and grated
1 tsp honey
1 T soy sauce
Steamed Japanese rice
Simmer the chicken stock in a medium pot on the stove.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Heat 4-5 quart pot and add 1 T oil.  Brown chicken and remove from pot.  Set aside.
Return the pot to medium-high heat and melt the butter.  Add the ginger, chopped onions, and garlic and cook until onions are softened.  Sprinkle in flour and cook until mixture is light brown, about 2 minutes.  Add curry powder and tomatoes.  Mix well and remove from heat.  Add 1 cup of the warm chicken stock and whisk to combine.  Add the rest of the chicken stock, then add the chicken thigh meat, onion pieces, carrots, bay leaf and potatoes.  Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.  Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the apples, honey, and soy sauce and salt to taste.  Cook for 5 more minutes.  Serve with steamed Japanese rice and beni shoga (red ginger).

Curry is not quite ready yet…

You’ve probably eaten gyoza or “potstickers” somewhere in your lifetime.  They can be incredibly good or incredibly bad depending on how they were cooked and how long they’ve been sitting around.  Making your own is a good way to have succulent, fresh and out of this world gyoza.  It is a bit time consuming but a fun thing to make with friends.  For the class I had the students fill the wrappers and then I cooked their
finished gyoza.  We made a sauce of soy sauce, rice vinegar and spicy chile oil.  By their comments and the disappearing gyoza I know they loved this dish!

2 cups napa cabbage, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
2 T chopped scallions
6 ounces ground pork or beef
4 ounces shrimp, minced (optional)
pinch of sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 T sake
1 1/2 T soy ssauce

3 dozen gyoza wrappers

5 T soy sauce
2 1/2 T unseasoned rice vinegar
1/2 tsp chile oil
S & B Japanese hot mustard, prepared according to directions on the can

Toss cabbage with salt and set aside for 15 minutes. Drain water, rinse cabbage and drain again.  Squeeze out all excess liquid.  Combine cabbage with filling ingredients and mix well.  Fill wrappers with 1 T of filling and create a half moon shape.  Use a few drops of water to help the wrapper stick.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and keep covered with a dry kitchen towel.
To pan fry, use a large skillet heated over medium high heat.  Add 1 T oil, then add gyoza.  Fry 1-2 minutes until light brown on the bottom.  Add 1/3 cup hot water to skillet holding lid close to top of pan.  Cover pan and let steam for 6 minutes.  Remove cover and cook until water is gone.
Combine sauce ingredients.  Serve with sauce and Japanese mustard.

Gyoza with bottoms on top to show how brown they should be

Omurice (omelet rice)
I recall my mother asking my youngest daughter one day, “Do you want me to make you some omurice?”  This is to Japanese what macaroni and cheese is to Americans.  It is simple and children love it.

Omu Raisu
Chicken Fried Rice for filling
4 cups day old white or brown rice
3 T butter or oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 pound chicken breast meat, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup green peas (frozen or fresh)
1/4 cup ketchup
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add the butter or oil and saute the onion.  Cook the onion over low heat until it is solf.  Add the carrot and cook for 1 minute.  Add the chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and salt and pepper.  Raise the heat to medium high and cook until the liquid is absorbed.  Add th erice and peas, turn to high heat and stir until the rice is heated through and mixed with the chicken.  Add the ketuchp and stir.

3 eggs, beaten
2 T butter or oil
1/2 recipe chicken fried rice
Season eggs with salt and pepper.  Heat an 8-10 inch skillet and add the butter or oil.  Add the eggs all at once and quickly swirl to coat the bottom of the pan evenly.  Cook until they are set on the bottom and half cooked on top.  Spread the fried rice over half the omelet and fold the other half over, covering the rice completely.  Place a plate over the top of the skillet and carefully flip the plate over to plate the omelet
Serve with ketchup.
Variations:  Use any type of fried rice with this dish and substitute tofu, mushrooms, etc. for the meat.
Also try using a brown rice filling and egg white outside for a “zen omu rice”.

2 replies
  1. Tao Master
    Tao Master says:

    Julia, could you please share where you got the S & B curry powder? I have tried using Indian curry paste and Japanese curry blocks, but I don't really like either one of them. Thank you very much!

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