You can't make everything from scratch

...but you can sure try!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Karei raisu

Ever since we got back from Italy, my husband has had a strong urge for Asian food. I think it's because he feels a need to balance out all the Italian food we ate while we were away.

So tonight he requested that I make curry rice, a Japanese stew of meat and vegetables with a curry powder-based sauce. Normally, I make curry rice from the bars you can buy in just about any Asian market (the names Glico and Golden Curry may sound familiar). We don't seem to have one of those bars kicking around right now, and the nearest Asian market is a half-hour drive away (and overpriced), so I dusted off one of my Japanese cookbooks and decided to make curry rice from scratch! (OK, so I cheated a little bit by using Campbell's tetra-pack chicken broth, but the rest of the dish is from scratch.)

I've made this recipe once or twice before and generally like it, although the texture isn't quite as thick (some might say "gloopy") as it is with the bar. I suspect this may be related to the relative water content of chicken (which we use) and pork (which the recipe calls for), so I might try reducing the amount of stock next time. Because we use chicken, I've reduced the cooking time in the recipe below. I imagine you could also use tofu, but I don't know how long you'd have to cook it for. (In fact, I imagine it would be quite tasty with some leftover deep-fried tofu... maybe next time.)

It's traditional to serve curry rice with Japanese pickles, especially rakkyo (pickled onions) and fukujinzuke, which is a mix of vegetables pickled in a soy sauce-based mixture. We can't get those locally, but I brought some canned fukujinzuke back from Toronto in the summer, which rounded out the meal quite nicely.

Curry rice
Adapted from Japanese Cooking for the American Table by Susan Fuller Slack

1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, diced
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, cut into pieces
1 small green pepper, diced
1 potato, peeled and diced
4 cups (or less) chicken stock

1 Tbsp. butter
1.5 to 2 Tbsp. Japanese curry powder (We use S&B brand "Oriental curry powder." I'm not convinced that regular curry powder wouldn't work just as well.)

3 Tbsp. cornstarch or potato starch
1/2 cup half-and-half cream

1. Heat butter and oil in saucepan or skillet over high heat. Brown chicken. Add vegetables and cook for a couple of minutes, until softened slightly. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

2. In a small pan, melt additional tablespoon butter, then add curry powder and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add to stew. Rinse the pan with a couple of tablespoons of water, then add that to the stew as well.

3. Mix cream with starch. Bring stew to a boil, then mix in the cream-starch mixture. Cook for one minute (or until thickened), stirring often. Season to taste.

4. Serve over rice, with pickles on the side. You could also serve over udon noodles.

(To make with pork, the original recipe says to omit the potatoes in the first step, simmer the mixture for 35 minutes, then add the potatoes after the curry powder and cook for another 10 minutes before adding the cornstarch.)

Serves 4-5


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