Easy Japanese Beef Curry Recipe

It may have its roots in India, but curry is very much a thing in Japan, and it could even well be considered a national dish. 

Legend has it that curry came to Japan as an import, brought to the country by British soldiers. Today, curry is enjoyed by people in different corners of the country, and it's even served in a variety of ways. Curry rice is a popular dish, and it even appears in school lunchrooms from time to time.

As patissier Eric Ngo demonstrates, Japanese curries are fairly easy to make, particularly if you have the one secret ingredient that Japan's households can't live without: curry roux, which varies in spiciness. When you throw all of the ingredients in this recipe together, you'll get a flavorful entree that your family will ask for time and time again. Plus, it's easy enough to make that it might just become a staple when you make your weekly meal plan. Now, let's find out how to make it.

Ingredients for easy Japanese beef curry

Begin by gathering up your ingredients, most of which you will likely have in your house anyway. The possible exception is the Golden Curry cubes, which are available for purchase online. They can also be found in Asian specialty stores as well as the international food section of your local supermarket. Other than the specialty curry cubes, you'll need some cooking oil, an apple, beef patties, an onion, carrots, potatoes, and water. 

The recipe can also be made with different proteins. If you're making chicken curry, Ngo recommends using thighs, and if you opt to do a pork version, he says using pork shoulder or spareribs would be the way to go. As a rule, the potatoes and carrots also benefit by being cut into medium-sized chunks. 

Start by sautéing the diced onion in hot oil

Begin by sautéing your diced onions in hot oil until the pieces are translucent. You'll want them to reach a nice browned color before you continue on to the next step. Why? By browning the onions before you include them in the rest of the recipe, you're adding a lot of flavor to the dish. While you could just start making the broth from the get-go, this step is going to take your curry from average to amazing. It only takes a few minutes, so make sure not to skip it.

Remove impurities from the top of the broth

When your onions are ready, add the beef patties and cook them for about three minutes, breaking the beef up into medium-sized pieces as you go. Ngo also explains why he favors beef patties instead of beef chunks, saying, "Since this curry isn't cooked like a stew, I don't recommend beef strips or chunks because it will be tough to chew. In order for beef to be tender, it must be cooked in a stew (watery) base for a long period of time. Using beef patties/ground beef allows the beef to get tender in a short amount of time."

As soon as the water starts boiling, spoon off all the impurities that float up to the surface with a spoon.

Apple is an essential ingredient in Japanese curries

Once you skim off the impurities, add the potatoes and carrots, then cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Then, add your sliced apple, and cook for a further five minutes.

Before you do a double-take on this addition of fruit to this curry, we'll take a moment to acknowledge that apples may not be an ingredient we'd add to an Indian, Thai, or any other curry for that matter. But the fruit is what gives Japanese curries their sweet, distinctive flavor. Some recipes include honey instead of apples, but we like the extra bit of nutrients the fruit provides in this recipe.

Curry roux cubes are critical to Japanese curry

Once all the other ingredients have cooked for a while, it's time to add the Golden Curry roux, which is essential for all Japanese curries. These blocks are an essential part of a Japanese pantry. They're a mixture of flour, fat, curry powder, and seasoning that is heated and then cooled to form blocks (via Japanese Curry). Once dissolved, the cubes should leave you with a thick, aromatic curry sauce. Cook on low heat and stir for 10 minutes until the carrots and potatoes are soft.

How to make this easy beef curry vegetarian

Once the beef curry is ready, spoon it on top of some hot white rice. As an optional add-in, you can take a raw egg yolk and lay it on top of the piping hot curry bowl. This will result in a creamier curry. Of course, not everyone feels comfortable eating raw eggs, which is why this ingredient is totally optional. It will still taste great without the egg yolk too!

The recipe can easily be made vegetarian by using firm tofu instead of beef or omitting the beef altogether. If you want to try a different vegetable mix, Ngo recommends green peas, baby corn, broccoli, and red peppers, but he recommends staying away from celery, as it won't go well with this curry.

Easy Japanese Beef Curry Recipe
5 from 24 ratings
When you throw all of the ingredients in this recipe together, you'll get a flavorful entree that your family will ask for time and time again.
Prep Time
5
minutes
Cook Time
20
minutes
Servings
4
servings
Easy beef curry with egg yolk
Total time: 25 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 beef patties
  • 5 cups of water
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into medium pieces
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into medium pieces
  • 1 apple, peeled and cut into medium pieces
  • 4 cubes Golden Curry roux
Optional Ingredients
  • 4 egg yolks
  • White rice, for serving
Directions
  1. In a medium pot, add oil and cook onions until translucent.
  2. Add beef patties and cook for 3 minutes. While they are cooking, roughly break into medium-sized chunks.
  3. Add water and bring to a boil. As it comes to a boil, scoop out impurities that come to the surface with a spoon.
  4. Once the water is boiling, add potatoes and carrots and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the apple, and cook for another 5 minutes.
  6. Add curry cubes, and stir until cubes dissolve in the water.
  7. Cook on low heat and stir for 10 minutes until carrots and potatoes are soft.
  8. Serve beef curry over rice. You can also add an egg yolk over the curry rice bowl and stir. This will result in an extra-creamy curry.
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