I first tried Japanese curry back in 2004 while enjoying a complimentary buffet lunch as part of an organized tour in Kyoto. I remember reading the sign that read “Japanese Curry” sitting next to this brown thin goop & vegetables thinking “What the heck is Japanese Curry? Silly kitchen people trying to pass this off as curry. Teeheehee.” At the time, the only curries I knew about were Indian and Thai curries. I had no idea that Japanese curry was a thing. So I took a small spoonful of the mix (really just a sauce with some carrots and other vegetables) and a bit of rice, sat down and had a few mouthfuls. I remember being puzzled by the taste, not sure what to compare it to but I immediately enjoyed the flavor. It tasted hearty and comforting but was nothing like a Thai or Indian curry. It was closer to a gravy than anything else with a very concentrated, salty flavor but in a good kind of way. I went back for more and the rest is history…
So I realized that Japanese curry was a real thing and yes, I had embraced it. Some time after that trip to Japan I explored a newly opened Asian grocery store in my neighborhood and found what claimed to be a curry sauce. It looks suspiciously like the sauce I remembered devouring in Japan.
Then something amazing happened. I studied the packaging and realized that this product was completely vegetarian! I wondered if I would be successful in re-creating the dish I enjoyed so much and figured it was worth a shot. Nine years later and we have a staple in the kitchen pantry and a dish that appears quite frequently on the dinner table. This meal is easy to prepare and (if timed correctly) can be on the table ready to eat in 35 minutes. I won’t lie, it’s unlikely this dish is all that healthy. Sure there are mounds of vegetables and yes there’s no meat. But we really like to eat more than just a few spoonfuls of that thick curry sauce. Our dishes are covered in the stuff.. Maybe there’s a low sodium version of this product that I can try one day? This is probably one of the quickest dishes I make. The only fresh things you need to have on are a sweet potato and carrots. Everything else you can pull out of the freezer or pantry.
I call this dish a Veggie Katsu Curry because I always serve it with crumbed vegetable patties similar to the chicken/pork Tonkatsu dish. If you wanted to go all out you could totally serve this with a crumbed chicken cutlet (schnitzel) but at my place it’s always served as a 100% vegetarian dish. I’ve tweaked the recipe over the years, using sweet potato in the sauce which I think makes the sauce a little thicker than what’s pictured. I also serve the dish with loads of vegetables but with minimal fuss. After all this is my quick week night dinner dish.
Here’s what you need:
- 1 medium sweet potato.
- 1 pack of frozen broccoli or fresh if you prefer.
- 2 medium carrots or 3 small carrots.
- 1 pack of veggie patties. I like Morningstar Farms.
- 1 pack of Golden Curry (You can get this at most Asian grocery stores but you can also get it here). I can’t remember if it was the mild flavor that I picked up back in the day in Sydney but I have since transitioned to medium hot as my preferred heat level.
- 3/4 cup rice.
Here’s what you do:
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cook rice. I just pop some texmati rice it in a rice cooker and walk away.
4. Once the water boils add the sweet potato and the broken cubes from the curry pack to the water.
5. Reduce the heat to low and stir to stir until everything is combined. It will take a while, just keep stirring. Stir regularly for 10-15 minutes until the sweet potato is soft and cooked through.
6. After stirring for 10 minutes pop your veggie patties into the oven and cook according to the directions. For me this is 18 minutes total, flipping after 9 minutes.
7. Meanwhile peel and chop up your carrots into 3 inch wedges. Doesn’t have to be exact but that’s how I like to prepare it.
8. Cook carrots in the microwave for about 1 minute
9. When the clock for the patties gets to the final 6 minutes, cook up your microwave broccoli in a microwave safe container.
10. Pop the carrots into the microwave with the broccoli for the last minute or two of cooking.
11. Use the spare moments of time in between stirring and pressing magical microwave buttons to wash up. I love washing up as I go along so that at the end of dinner this ins’t too much left to do.
12. Serve up a mound of rice, half the vegetables and two patties onto a plate. Take your curry sauce to the table and just slop on as much curry sauce as you like onto the plate.
If you want to get super fancy you can buy this fancy lemon shaped rice mold to make your dish look just a little prettier. I found it online at ebay.
A lot has happened in 9 years. From being completely ignorant of the existence of this dish to eating it at a restaurant called wagamama (when we lived in Sydney) to occasionally eating at CurryYa – a restaurant named after this popular dish in NYC. Hey, that rice mold makes the dishes look similar to what’s on offer at wagamama and curry ya 🙂 Enjoy your Veggie Katsu Curry!
- Japanese Vegetable Curry (ayainthekitchen.wordpress.com)