The Best and Easiest Japanese Beef Curry Recipe From Scratch

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The Best and Easiest Japanese Beef Curry Recipe From Scratch

Today we’ll talk about my super easy and delicious Japanese Beef Curry Recipe. But first, I have a wee story. Sure, you can click the “JUMP TO RECIPE” button above, but be forewarned that I am a good storyteller, and you’re missing out!  So you might want to read my story while your curry simmers.  Just saying! So let the story begin!

As a High School sophomore, I traveled to Japan as an exchange student.  I spoke no Japanese, but my family had hosted several exchange students from the same high school in Japan.

My household was immersed in the awareness of Japanese culture, but I wanted more.  I wanted to see what it was like to be on the other end, experience the culture firsthand, and learn.  So after lots of research and discussions with the program directors, my parents signed me up to travel to Japan and live in another family’s home for a year.

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It was 1987, and I was 15 years old.  In today’s world, I have a hard time imagining sending my child away for an extended trip such as this one, but in my day, travel looked very different than it does now.  So, they coordinated the trip and enrolled me in my new high school half a world away.

I could tell stories all day and night about my experiences in Japan.  LINK TO POST ABOUT ESSAY.  I was changed forever by my experience there.  To this day, over 35 years later, I have dreams about Japan, my family there, and my experiences in a country whose culture is very different than ours in America.

a pot of beef curry simmers on the stove

A Lesson in Food Culture

One of those differences in culture is the food!  In America, our diet is heavy on red meat and processed foods.  Most Americans love a good steak with a side of potatoes, and I am one of them!  However, in Japan, steak and potatoes are rarely served.  Their most popular dishes include smaller cuts of red meat if any.  Their diet relies heavily on fish and rice.  It was an adjustment to my palette, for sure.

When my host mom, affectionately called Okaasan, whipped up my first batch of Japanese Beef Curry for the first time, the first bite hooked me!  It had steak, potatoes, and carrots in it!  It reminded me of the classic combination of beef, carrots, and potatoes from a delicious beef stew recipe I loved back home!  Although Americans eat beef stew by itself or with a chunk of bread and a little bit of butter, Japanese curry is served over a bed of white rice and is delicious.  My mouth waters thinking of it.  Okaasan made it regularly while I lived there, and I sealed that recipe in my brain alongside all the new Japanese words I was learning.

Back in America’s Food Culture

Once I returned to America, I cooked up some beef curry for the family.  We quickly discovered that my dad isn’t a fan, so I didn’t have it often until I was out on my own.  Curry isn’t for everyone, as it can be pretty spicy.  Japanese curry tends to be less spicy and a touch sweeter than its counterpart, Indian Curry.  My tastebuds prefer a non-spicy blend, so Japanese Beef Curry is perfect for me!

Fortunately, my husband and family love curry, so I make it regularly these days.  My husband Dan’s tastebuds are not adventurous, and he prefers non-spicy, not flavorful dishes, so I’ve always been surprised that he likes curry, but I’m happy he does!

You can make your own blend if you like, but I prefer this red curry powder that’s already mixed.  Another option is to use pre-made curry roux blocks.  My local grocery store used to carry golden curry roux in a box but discontinued it, so I make my own homemade roux.  The results are similar, adding only a few minutes to your cooking time to make it from scratch.

When you make your curry, you’ll want to make up a batch of white rice to go with it.  I like to use high-quality, short-grain rice, which stays perfectly sticky, just like my Okaasan made it!  I no longer make my rice on the stovetop.  Some things have changed in 35 years, so I now use this handy microwave cooker for cooking my rice.  Yum!

It’s not a secret ingredient, but never-the-less, I will share this secret tip that’s not all that secret.  Rather than scour your local supermarket for short-grain rice and Japanese curry powder, head out to your local Asian grocery store, where you will find it much more readily available and usually at a lower cost

Special Ingredient Notes To Keep it Simple

I use baby carrots and tiny potatoes to make this recipe easy to throw together.  Using these items keeps my food prep to a minimum, and anything that keeps me from extra cleaning and chopping makes me happy!  You can add green peas to your curry if you’d like a touch more color.

Some beef curry recipes will call for Garam Masala, which is often used in Indian curry.  I prefer using the Japanese curry spice and find it milder, but feel free to experiment and find the mix you and your family prefer.

Finally, I use minced garlic from a jar in all recipes that call for garlic.  Again – one less thing for me to fuss with when cooking.  If you want to use fresh garlic, go for it! 

When you reach the end of the recipe, you’ll let your delicious curry simmer for a solid couple of hours.  I tend to let mine simmer much longer than that.  I love to let this simmer for 3-4 hours on a cool fall day.  The smell in the house is heavenly, and it’s hard to keep Dan from asking, “is it ready yet?”  And that’s when I know it is going to be a success! 

You can convert this recipe and make it in your instant pot or a pressure cooker if you need your dish quickly, but I prefer the traditional way so that I can enjoy the aroma for an afternoon.

Finally – plan to finish off this fine dinner with a small bowl of ice cream! You deserve it!

I think I’ve covered all the basics, so let’s get to this easy recipe for delicious Japanese beef curry!  You will love the savory flavors in the tender morsels of meat, the sweet curry sauce, and the delightful texture of the steamed rice that goes with it.  No soy sauce is required!

a closeup shot of beef curry showing carrots and potatoes in a curry base

Japanese Beef Curry Recipe

  • 2 lbs.  Stew Beef (or cubed chuck roast)
  • 2-3 Medium Onions, chopped coarsely
  • 1 tbsp minced Garlic
  • 8 Tbsp butter (divided)
  • 8 Tbsp plain flour (1/2 cup)
  • 2-4 Tbsp red curry Powder (I use 4)
  • 1 medium apple, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 lb. baby carrots
  • 1 small bag of tiny potatoes
  • 1 cube of beef bouillon

Begin by chopping up your onions, prep your carrots and potatoes, and chop your apple into pieces.  Now that you’re prepped let’s cook!

In a large pot or saucepan, sauté the onions in 2 Tbsp butter and a pinch of kosher salt.  When the onions are soft, add the beef chunks and the garlic.  Sauté it all together until the meat is cooked through.

While the meat is cooking, prepare your curry roux as follows:

Melt the other 6 Tbsp of butter in a small fry pan.  Slowly add the flour to the melted butter and stir constantly at medium heat (or med-low) until the mix becomes a paste and the color changes to a deep orangey-red, like the color of a fox.  You will see the color change as you cook, but it will take 10-15 minutes for the color to begin changing.

Once the meat is cooked, and the roux is that lovely deep color, you’re ready to mix it all together.  Add the carrots and potatoes to the meat mix, then stir in the roux, chopped apples, ginger, black pepper, water, carrots, potatoes, and bouillon cube.

Let the mix simmer for 2-3 hours until the carrots and potatoes are soft and the meat is tender.  Serve over sticky white rice.

PIN for Japanese Beef Curry with image of curry and title

a pot of beef curry simmers on the stove
Yield: 8

The Best and Easiest Japanese Beef Curry Recipe From Scratch

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

A sweet and mildly spicy Japanese-style beef stew with potatoes and carrots and flavored with Japanese Red Curry.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. Stew Beef (or cubed chuck roast)
  • 2-3 Medium Onions, chopped coarsely
  • 1 tbsp minced Garlic
  • 8 Tbsp butter (divided)
  • 8 Tbsp plain flour (1/2 cup)
  • 2-4 Tbsp red curry Powder (I use 4)
  • 1 medium apple, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 lb. baby carrots
  • 1 small bag of tiny potatoes
  • 1 cube of beef bouillon

Instructions

  1. Begin by chopping up your onions, prep your carrots and potatoes, and chop your apple into pieces. Now that you’re prepped let’s cook!
  2. In a large pot or saucepan, sauté the onions in 2 Tbsp butter and a pinch of kosher salt. When the onions are soft, add the beef chunks and the garlic. Sauté it all together until the meat is cooked through.
  3. While the meat is cooking, prepare your curry roux as follows: Melt the other 6 Tbsp of butter in a small fry pan. Slowly add the flour to the melted butter and stir constantly at medium heat (or med-low) until the mix becomes a paste and the color changes to a deep orangey-red, like the color of a fox. You will see the color change as you cook, but it will take 10-15 minutes for the color to begin changing.
  4. Once the meat is cooked, and the roux is that lovely deep color, you’re ready to mix it all together. Add the carrots and potatoes to the meat mix, then stir in the roux, chopped apples, ginger, black pepper, water, carrots, potatoes, and bouillon cube.
  5. Let the mix simmer for 2-3 hours until the carrots and potatoes are soft and the meat is tender. Serve over sticky white rice.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 435Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 143mgSodium: 340mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 7gSugar: 7gProtein: 40g

Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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