Moving changes you. Before we moved to Japan, Matt and I ate out all the time. We never watched television. We went to spin class. We have changed. Okinawa is a like a small town and moving to a small town will change your habits. Not as many places you like to go eat. No spin class that makes you want to go back time and again. Perhaps it does not change you really, nor change what you want but it most definitely changes the ins and outs of your moments and your story.
When we moved to Japan, I had no idea that curry was a thing here. It’s everywhere, just as prevalent as ramen or sushi and is considered a national dish. The average Japanese person has curry two or three times a week, mostly from instant curry powder due to ease of preparation. Who knew? So moving to Japan hasn’t changed us into curry twice a week people, but I can appreciate a good Japanese curry, especially when I’ve been out skiing in Hoikkaido or climbing Mt. Fuji.
Historically, curries moved from India to Britain during the spice trade days and then made their way from Britain to Japan during the Meiji Era when Japan opened itself to Western influence. Japanese curry is a little different than other curries in that it has added a little soy sauce, apple and honey which actually have a profound effect on the flavor, in a good way.
One of the most popular restaurant chains in Japan with Americans and Japanese alike is CoCo Curry which has hundreds of restaurants throughout Japan. I wanted to make my own to have a go to recipe so that when I move back to the states, I can make it and think of my time in Japan. For this recipe, you can use chicken breast or boneless chicken thighs (which will be more tender but a little more fatty). Though I browsed around for inspiration, I wanted my version to have a little more vegetables and it is a little more veggie friendly.
Moving changes you. And it gives you things that you ought to keep with you for the rest of your life. Japanese curry is one of those things.
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 1 Tablespoon canola oil
- 1 pound chicken breasts or boneless chicken thighs cut into even 1 inch chunks
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 1 Tablespoon fresh peeled and finely grated ginger
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- ⅓ cup all purpose flour
- 4 Tablespoons curry powder
- 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 medium carrots, cut into ½ inch chunks
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾ inch chunks
- 1 small apple, peeled, cored and coarsely grated
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- Rice of your preference for serving
- In a large skillet (preferably cast iron), heat pan over high heat. Add canola oil and allow to heat until shimmering. Meanwhile, cut chicken to an even 1 inch dice, salt and pepper moderately. Add chicken to skillet and cook for 4-5 minutes until golden brown. Remove from heat.
- In a large saucepan over medium low heat add butter and allow it to melt. Add ginger, garlic, and onions. Cook until translucent 3-5 minutes. Add flour, stir well and continue to cook, browning for 2-3 extra minutes. Add tomato paste and curry powder. Stir well to combine evenly (it will be thick and a little clumpy).
- As soon as tomato paste and curry is evenly combined, add chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Add chicken, carrots and potatoes. Bring to a boil again(temperature reduces when you add other ingredients). Reduce heat to medium low (simmering) and cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally until vegetables are tender. Stir in apple, honey, and soy sauce. Cook for another few minutes, until apples are not too noticeable. Taste and adjust salt if needed.
- Serve over rice.