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How To Make Japanese Curry From The Test Kitchen Bon Appétit


How to Make Japanese Curry with Winter Squash and Mushrooms

When I think of Japanese curry, I envision a thick, velvety gravy ladled over a hot bowl of rice, creating a dish of pure perfection. Traditional Japanese curry often includes carrots, potatoes, onions, and chunks of beef or chicken. Today, I’m going to put a twist on this classic dish by making a vegetarian version with winter squash and mushrooms. Additionally, I’ll prepare a katsu cutlet, one of the best ways to enjoy this curry. If you’re looking to treat yourself, definitely add the katsu cutlet!

Introduction to Japanese Curry

Japanese curry is unique and distinct from other curries around the world. It’s something I used to eat once a week growing up, often from a boxed version. Today, I aim to recreate that beloved flavor from scratch, using Golden Curry spice mix, a brand that was always stocked in my family’s pantry. This mix contains 17 different spices, encapsulated in a cute little red tin, and is extremely nostalgic of Japanese curry.

Preparing the Rice

Before diving into the curry, I start with the rice. Rinse the rice to remove excess starch until the water runs clear. For this recipe, I use two cups of rice with an equivalent amount of water. While the rice cooks, I prepare the vegetables for the curry.

Prepping the Vegetables

For this curry, I use a variety of mushrooms, including shiitake, cremini, and maitake, sourced from a local grower in Brooklyn called Smallhold. I lightly prep the mushrooms by stemming and tearing them into pieces. The royal trumpets, being larger and heartier, are cut with a knife. Mushrooms add a meaty texture and extra flavor to this vegetarian curry.

Chopping the Onions, Carrots, and Celery

I chop one medium onion, a large organic carrot (unpeeled), and two stalks of celery. Three cloves of garlic, a one-inch piece of ginger, and scallions (for garnishing) are also prepped.

Handling the Kabocha Squash

Kabocha squash is a winter squash that can be eaten with the peel on. I cut a square in the top and bottom of the squash, then cut it in half. After scooping out the seeds and stringy parts, I chop the squash into wedges and then into cubes.

Cooking the Curry

I start with a basic butter and flour roux, which serves as both the flavor base and thickener for the curry. Melt the butter, add the flour, and cook for eight to ten minutes until the mixture changes color. Then, add curry powder and garam masala for depth of flavor, cooking for an additional minute.

Sautéing the Vegetables

Heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil and sauté the mushrooms. Avoid seasoning them immediately to prevent moisture release and ensure proper browning. Once browned, season and set aside. In the same pan, add more oil and sauté the onions, carrots, and celery with salt and pepper until the onions are translucent and the vegetables are slightly soft. Add the garlic and ginger, cooking until fragrant.

Simmering the Curry

Add vegetable broth (made from bouillon paste) and bring to a boil. Add the squash and mushrooms, simmering for about 20 minutes until reduced by a third. Meanwhile, prepare the katsu cutlet.

Preparing the Katsu Cutlet

Katsu cutlet is a thinly pounded and breaded piece of protein, often pork or chicken. For this recipe, I use pork loin, seasoned with salt and pepper, and pounded to about a quarter-inch thickness. Set up a dredge station with flour, whisked eggs (with a little water), and panko bread crumbs. Use separate hands for dry and wet breading to avoid clumping.

Frying the Katsu

Heat oil to about 350°F and carefully lower the cutlets into the oil. Fry for about two minutes on each side until golden brown. Season with salt immediately after frying.

Finishing the Curry

Add the prepared curry roux to the simmering vegetables and cook for another eight to ten minutes. Add a sweetening agent, such as honey, to balance the flavors. The curry should develop a thick, gravy-like consistency.

Plating the Katsu Curry

To serve, place a spoonful of rice in a bowl, ladle the thick curry over the rice, and top with sliced katsu cutlet. Garnish with scallions. Enjoy the combination of crunchy cutlet, creamy curry, and comforting rice.

This dish is the epitome of comfort food, with its velvety curry, sweet winter squash, and crispy katsu cutlet. It’s everything you want in one bowl. Try it with the cutlet, or simply enjoy a cozy bowl of curry and rice.


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