Japanese curry – very hot (popular)!

Posted on Jun 17, 2010 in Hiroko's Blog

Japanese curry is hot.  It is not Indian curry, nor South East Asian curry.  Japanese curry has its own unique taste and texture.  How curry came to Japan and became a national dish is a fascinating story.  The British who staitioned in India during 18th century brought back a variety of spices to England.  People back there instantly loved the new spices, but there was one problem.  The British did not know how to combine  different spices for use in different preparations.  So, one company, Cross and Blackwell, came up with a blended spice powder and sold it as “curry powder”.  This curry powder came to Japan when the British visited Japan for a trade.   This was the time when Japan was undergoing rapid modernization under the new Meiji Emperor.  Japanese chefs who were trained to prepare Western dishes were fascinated with the powder and used in their preparations and produced a stew like dish – sauteed onion base mixed with stock and thickened with curry flavored roux.   Japanese curry has distinctive texture and delicious flavor, like no other.  Japanese curry became an official school lunch in 1957 and today, it is one of the three most popular university dining menu.  In the past protein and/or vegetables were mixed in the curry sauce and poured over the rice together with the sauce.  Today many curry places uses the “topping” concept rather than the “in-the-roux” style.  Enjoy Japanese curry when the opportunity arises.  Lastly there is a unique bread called “curry-pan”, it is a bread stuffed with thickened curry sauce and deep-fried.  Delicious!  In East Villege, NYC, there is a bread store called “Panya” (8 stuyvesant street) and there you can find a curry pan with a sticker-shock price (comapred to the price with which I was grown up in Tokyo….so, It won’t be a bad price at today’s market).