Japanese style curry with rice is one of the most popular dishes in Japan. It is easy to make and is the perfect comfort food for children and adults alike. Almost every family in Japan has its own unique twist for the recipe. But the most surprising part is that unlike in other parts of the world, the Japanese curry is made using a ready-to-use curry cube. There are a few popular brands currently available in the Japanese grocery stores, ranging from mild, medium hot to really spicy! Let’s find out a bit more about the most popular curry mix available in Japan today.
cover photo credit:[puamelia]
1. Japan’s Favourite Dish
Sushi and Ramen are so strongly associated with Japan, that it becomes almost impossible to think that the Japanese eat anything else other than sushi and ramen in their own country. However, the truth is that Japanese cuisine is so diverse that it has many delicacies that people outside of Japan have not yet tried yet. In fact, Japanese people love to explore different food items, and refine it further in their own kitchens. Thanks to this nature of exploring new cuisines, it is quite surprising to know that the most favourite dish in Japan is neither Sushi nor Ramen, but in fact, Japanese Curry and Rice.
2. Where Can I Find Curry Rice in Japan
In fact, curry rice is so popular in Japan, that you can find it almost everywhere. Many restaurants specialize in curry and serve different versions of curry to suit different tastes. These restaurants are called Kare-ya and are very common around train stations and business districts.
3. Instant Curry Magic
Japanese Curry and Rice is the Japanese equivalent of American macaroni and cheese, a comfort food staple that appeals to old and young, equally. It is the most common instant go-to food for most Japanese. Although every Japanese person seems to know a special method of making their curries unique, the most common recipes include onions, potatoes, carrots and different types of meats, in addition to water and the ready curry mix. The most commonly used brands of curry are Golden Curry, Torokeru Curry, Java Curry and the surprisingly named, Vermont Curry. If you want to talk about instant gratification, nothing comes close to beating this.
4. Japan’s Favourite Instant Curry Mix
“Vermont Curry” is the most preferred brand of ready-to-use curry in Japan. It was named so, because of the apples, honey and cheddar cheese, items that were associated with Vermont in the minds of the Japanese in the 60s. The sweet flavour made this curry very popular with children. The curry really became a household name, when the popular singer Hideki Saijo became a brand ambassador for the brand in the 70s, and sang the Vermont Curry Jingle. If you have never tried Japanese curry, you can start with this and be sure that you won’t go wrong.
5. Customizing Your Curry
Every pre-mixed curry has its own flavour and personality, and many Japanese prefer to combine two or more flavours to create their own favourite mix. When I want to try something a little spicier, I mix Java Curry with my Vermont Curry to give my curry a considerable kick. When I am feeling too adventurous, I also add a but of black pepper to the mix, which makes it really hot. I love also adding a bit of sauteed onions, diced carrots and shredded pork to the stew, to give it a bit more flavour.
6. Japanese vs Indian Curry
Curry was originally introduced to Japan in the late 1800s by the British, who had picked up the taste for curry from the Indian sub-continent. Very soon, the Japanese adapted the curry taste to their own preferences, and the Japanese Curry Rice (Kare Raisu) was invented. The main difference in Indian style and Japanese style curry is that Japanese curry is sweeter and much thicker as compared to the Indian version. The sweet taste makes it suitable for children as well. Moreover, unlike India, where the curry is eaten with Indian flatbreads as well as rice, in Japan, curry is mainly partnered with rice.
7. Instant Curries For Permanent Memories
There is no denying that Japanese love their curry rice. There are so many types of curry available, that sometimes for foreigners it becomes impossible to choose (or even remember) which brand of curry is the one you liked the last time you tried it. But, regardless, if you are a tourist in Japan, you would do well to remember a few brands, and stock up on those curry packets during your stay in Japan. After all, not all souvenirs have to be snow globes and cheap T-shirts. Some souvenirs are best when they are cooked and eaten!
Go on then, if you haven’t had a chance to go beyond Indian curries, give Japanese curries a try. Trust me, you won’t regret it. In fact, you’ll be coming back for more…!
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