» no worry, chicken curry.
  • no worry, chicken curry.

    Jan 22nd • Posted in food

    I’m not Japanese, but I grew up in an area with an abundance of Japanese food– including the ever-present Japanese curry. Since moving to the Bay Area, I’ve discovered that there are places that serve the same Japanese comfort food I’m so accustomed to at home– but none quite like the Japanese chain CoCo Ichibanya, specialising in Japanese kare raisu, or curry rice. The majority of US locations are located in Southern California or Hawaii– only one of which I have access to on a semi-regular basis. Maybe it’s the nostalgia, or the wistfulness of not having it for awhile, but I was really craving Japanese curry. There’s something about it that sits well in my stomach: It’s not spicy (or at least mildly spicy– spice level can be adjusted to your tastes); it’s thick and rich without being too cloying; and it’s a relatively simple dish that serves as a blank template to your tastes.

    As a disclaimer: I’ve never cooked this before. I’ve had it in restaurants, but never attempted to cook it. So when anecdotal evidence led me to believe that this was a simple, quick and easy recipe to cook– I was decieved and quickly recruited my boyfriend, Tobi, to help me cook the curry. The best way I can describe the taste of Japanese curry is mildly spicy, extremely savoury with a hint of sweetness. Despite the decievingly simple approach, Japanese curry takes a long time to cook. This doesn’t translate well into our regular couples cooking time because we both lead extremely busy lives and tend to prefer recipes we can throw together at the last minute on the weekdays. Weekends are reserved for more ambitious recipes. But, I’m proud to say that the wait was worth it because it’s now one of Tobi’s favourite dishes that we’ve cooked together. My base template for taste was CoCo Ichibanya’s curry, but we used a recipe from Just One Cookbook, and found ourselves adjusting accordingly.

    To be honest with you, Tobi and I try to follow measurements pretty faithfully until we realize all that goes out the window and then we just make things according to our tastes. Unfortunately, I took no pictures of the process, as they are well-documented on the other blog. For all intents and purposes, it also helps to know that we took the traditional Japanese way of using pre-made curry roux blocks. We used Mild S&B Golden Curry blocks, but you can obviously use whatever you want according to your tastes. While I like using mild curry, you can always make it spicier by adding chili pepper or togarashi.

    For those of you looking for a healthier approach, you may want to make your own curry roux. However, using pre-made curry roux blocks is an easier approach to a time-heavy recipe. Japanese curry also traditionally uses potatoes and carrots as base vegetables (besides the onions which break down beautifully throughout the course of cooking) but I don’t like cooked carrots so… we used shiitake mushrooms instead smile You could also add bell peppers, some sort of root vegetables or celery to the curry.  I also added dashes of mirin, as well as honey and apples to play up the sweetness of the curry. Tobi and I are also hella lazy, so we often use Spike seasoning to season everything (as opposed to salt and pepper.) We used this to season our chicken AND our curry. Despite the Italian-inspired flavour profile of the Spike seasoning, we found that it worked well with the curry. We used Worcestershire sauce instead of soy sauce like the original recipe indicates. Because the curry roux blocks are pre-seasoned, and the chicken broth is salted– we didn’t want to add more salt with soy sauce, and instead wanted to enhance the umami and sweet/sour notes with Worcestershire sauce. If you wanted, you could probably use splashes of Bulldog/tonkatsu sauce in place of that.

    I’ll have to find a Japanese grocery store so I can grab fukujinzuke (pickled vegetables in soy sauce) for the curry to complete it. However, we served it with a generous heap of rice sprinkled with nori furikake and an umeboshi plum to top it all off! bigsmile

    This is by far one of my boyfriend’s favourite recipes to cook now. If you wanted to make it vegetarian, this is entirely possible. Just scrap the protein (in this case, chicken) and replace it with more vegetables. Alternatively, you could cook the curry separately from the protein and pour the curry over the protein later (if you chose to make something like katsu curry.)

    Happy eats! Live well and eat well!


    Japanese Curry Rice

    Prep Time: 30 minutes

    Cook Time: 1 hour

    Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

    Serving Size: 5-6 servings

    A simple Japanese curry recipe using pre-made curry roux blocks.


    • 1 box store-bought curry roux
    • 1 lb protein of choice
    • Spike seasoning In place of salt, to taste.
    • 1 tbsp honey, to taste
    • Worcestershire Sauce, to taste
    • 2 potatoes
    • 8-10 Shiitake mushrooms, chopped in quarters
    • 1 Fuji Apple
    • 1/2 to 1 tbsp ginger,chopped or minced finely
    • 3-5 cloves garlic, chopped or minced finely, to taste
    • 1-2 onions
    • 1-1.5 qts chicken broth or water, can be substituted with vegetable broth
    • Salt, to taste
    • Pepper, to taste
    • 1 tbsp vegetable oil of choice


    1. Rinse the chicken, pat dry. Then, season the chicken with Spike seasoning (or whatever seasoning you choose-- you can also use Salt and Pepper if you do not have Spike seasoning.) Then, slice the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
    2. Cut onion(s) in wedges.
    3. Chop mushrooms (with stems) into quarters.
    4. Peel potatoes and cut into quarters. Then, soak in cold ice water until you need to cook them. (For us, this was about 30-45 minutes.)
    5. Grate ginger, mince/chop garlic. You can easily skip this step if you buy pre-chopped/grated ginger and garlic.
    6. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat onions with your oil of choice over medium heat and sauté until they become transparent.
    7. Add the chopped ginger and garlic to the onions and sauté.
    8. Add protein of choice until you know it is cooked thoroughly. (We followed this faithfully in the original recipe, and ended up using chicken. You want to cook the chicken until it changes color completely.)
    9. Add mushrooms and sauté with the rest of the mix.
    10. Add 1 qt of your chicken broth, water or vegetable broth, and bring to a boil.
    11. After it boils, grate an apple into the mixture. We used a julienne peeler/slicer to slice the apples into the mixture, but if you prefer hard chunks of apple, you can peel the apple and chop it in bite-sized blocks into the mix.
    12. Add your honey and more Spike seasoning (or salt and pepper) to taste. Lower heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes-- stir occasionally.
    13. After 20 minutes, add the potatoes for around 20-25 minutes. They should be tender, but if that doesn't work-- leave them in for longer.
    14. In a separate pot, slowly dissolve your pre-made curry roux blocks on medium-low heat. Heat 1-2 blocks at a time, breaking it down. Add some water or stock liquid (which you're cooking) if need be. Keep doing this until you've dissolved the entire box.
    15. Once the potatoes are finished, stir the roux into the larger pot and combine. Stir well to break up the roux into the curry. Your curry will be much thicker and you may want to add the rest of your chicken stock or water to compensate for what boiled off.
    16. On low heat, add Worcestershire sauce to taste and stir until combined and to your desired taste and thickness.
    17. Serve with rice and enjoy!


    Adapted from Just One Cookbook's Simple Chicken Curry recipe.