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Christina Makes Japanese Curry

Join Christina Chaey in the Bon Appétit test kitchen as she prepares savory Japanese curry rice with mushrooms and squash.

Released on 12/08/2021

Transcript

So to me, a Japanese curry is characterized

by the really thick, velvety, gravy quality of the curry,

just ladled over a hot bowl of rice.

And it's just perfection.

[laid back music]

When I think of Japanese curry, I think carrots, potatoes,

onions chunks of stewby for chicken.

So today I'm going to be making a Japanese curry

with winter squash and mushrooms.

Actually, today I am also going to make a katsu cutlet,

because it is one of the very best ways to eat this curry.

I guess I'm like,

why didn't I add it in the original recipe?

I don't know.

if it's a special occasion, you want to treat yourself,

add the katsu.

So Japanese curry is something that is in a class

of its own.

It's not like any other curry out there.

It's something that I used to eat once a week

when I was growing up.

We used to actually eat a boxed version.

Today, I'm going to try to make a version of that,

but from scratch.

Golden curry.

This is the brand that we used to have in my house

all the time.

We had boxes and boxes of this.

And you drop a block into your pot of water

with your vegetables, your meats,

and it kind of magically just thickens everything up

within a couple of minutes.

One thing I don't love about the package version is

there are all kinds of different additives

and preservatives.

What I'm trying to do is replicate the flavor of the curry

that I grew up eating and love so much,

but kind of cutting out some of that other stuff.

You can see golden curry is made by S&B.

They actually make a curry powder

that has this exact same flavor profile,

which is what we're going to use.

And there we are.

So this comes in very cute little red tin,

and this has something like 17 different spices

that is extremely nostalgic of Japanese curry.

So before I get started on the curry,

I'm actually going to get my rice going

so that it's ready for when we are going to eat.

I'm just going to give this a rinse

to get some of the starches out.

I'm eventually looking for the water to run pretty clear.

I'm pretty happy with that.

And into that, I'm adding an equivalent amount of water,

so we're doing about two cups today.

And then in the meantime,

I'm going to get all my vegetables ready for my curry.

So I'm going to start with my mushrooms.

Some of them are actually from a mushroom producer in,

or grower I guess, in Brooklyn called Small Hold,

who I love.

So I am just going to do some very light prep on these.

Stem my shiitakes and creminis.

And for the shiitakes,

I'm just going to tear these into pieces.

I'm going to do the same for my maitake, actually.

I'm just going to leave these in pretty big pieces.

For something like the royal trumpets,

obviously they're a bit bigger and heartier.

So I am going to cut these with a knife.

And mushrooms aren't something you typically see too,

too often in Japanese curries,

but because this is a vegetarian version,

do want that sort of meaty textural element,

and also some more flavor

that's going to add to the final curry.

Doing one medium-ish onion.

I'm just going to give this a small enough shop.

No worries about being too precise with anything.

I love this carrot.

Can you just like.

[choir singing]

I'm not going to peel this.

It's organic and it is very clean.

And then our celery.

So I'm going to use two stocks, three cloves of garlic.

I'd say that's about a heaping tablespoon of garlic.

And then our ginger.

We only need about a one inch piece or so.

And then I will do my scallion.

And I am just going to use the greens for garnishing.

Okay, So this is a kabocha squash.

I'm going to try to cut this, and I really hope it works

because I just learned this new way of cutting it,

or new to me way of cutting it.

Like basically, we're going to cut a square in the top,

pull this out.

Ta-da!

turn it over, cut a square in the bottom, pull that out.

Okay, and then we'll just go right down the middle

of this guy.

Wow, that's a very beautiful squash.

As with any winter squash,

there are seeds and stringy things inside,

so we're just going to scoop that out first.

Just give that a chop.

So what I like to do is I like to stand it

on one of its flat cut sides, go in like this,

cutting it kind of into wedges like this,

and then cut them into cubes.

So with kabocha, I mean,

one of the other things I love about it

is that you can eat it with the peel on.

And I think that's everything.

We're about to start cooking.

I'm going to start with a very basic butter and flour roux.

And this whole thing is not only going to be the flavor base

of our curry, but it's also going to be the thickener.

So a roux is a mixture of fat and flour.

In this case, we're using butter as our fat.

And once the butter is melted, I will add my flour.

I don't want either the flour or the butter to burn,

so I'm going to be pretty attentive at this stage.

I'm going to cook this for about 8 to 10 minutes.

Ooh, you hear that?

[rice cooker beeping]

I think we're there.

As you can see, the color has changed quite a bit.

So I am going to add my curry powder and my garam masala.

So with the addition to the garam masala,

you're going to get some more depth to the final flavor.

And just move it around and cook this for about a minute.

This is basically the same as those blocks

of the golden curry that we saw from before.

If I were to let this set and refrigerate it, for example,

it would look exactly the same.

So going to heat a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil.

My oil is hot.

I'm going to add my mushrooms.

I like using all different types of mushrooms

for something like this,

because I like the fact

that the different kinds of mushrooms

bring different flavors and textures.

I'm not going to season them yet.

The second you add salt,

it's going to release the moisture from the mushrooms

and hinder the browning

because they're going to end up steaming instead of searing.

We've got some nice color on these.

So I think I'm ready to season these and take them out.

And we'll come back to those later.

I'm going to add a little bit more oil,

and then I'm immediately going to add my onions,

carrots, and my celery.

And I'm going to season that with some salt, pepper.

Get the onions a little translucent,

get the carrots and celery just a little bit soft.

So I'm going to go ahead and add in my garlic and my ginger.

We're just cooking out our garlic and ginger

for a couple minutes,

just until they are no longer raw and really fragrant.

This smells great.

So I'm going to go ahead and add the vegetable broth.

I am using bullion paste to make my vegetable stock.

And then once that comes to a boil,

I'm going to add my squash and mushrooms,

and then everything is going to simmer 20 minutes or so

until this has reduced by about a third.

But in the meantime,

we're going to talk about our pork katsu.

A Katsu cutlet generally refers

to any kind of thinly pounded and breaded piece of protein.

So you'll often find it with pork,

but you can also see it with chicken.

We are going to be using some pork loin today

that we've already sliced.

It's a leaner cut,

but because the katsu in the curry is so rich,

I almost liked the fact that it's sort of a leaner bite

of meat in there.

And I am going to use the flat side of my meat mallet

to gently pound this out.

So I'm looking to get this from about half an inch

to a quarter of an inch.

Okay, I think we're good.

I'm going to season these with some salt and pepper.

Maybe just salt.

and I'm ready to set up my dredge.

Whisk my eggs together with a little bit of water

to loosen them up.

What I like to do is I like to use two different hands

for dry and wet breading.

This avoids having both hands end up being clumped

in a lot of messy, just like doughy coating.

So I'm going to use my left hand for my dry.

I'm just going to dip this in my flour.

And then once I dip it in the egg,

I'm going to switch to my right hand for my wet dredge.

Place that in my panko pan.

Back to my left hand,

and that is ready to go.

You know, when I think of a katsu,

I just think of this specific, like panko dredge.

It's almost like Japanese schnitzel.

So we are ready to fry those.

Very carefully lower my cutlets in.

This is about 350, I would say.

360 maybe.

You know, these are gonna cook

in like literally two minutes.

So you can see that the pork is turning golden brown

around the edges already.

So we're going to give this maybe another minute or two

on the other side.

When you have it so thin,

you're really going to just be looking

for the golden brown of the crust,

and that's going to time up pretty much

with the doneness of the meat inside.

And then I am just going to hit these

with a little bit of salt.

You want to do this while this is hot,

straight out of the fryer,

because otherwise the seasoning won't really adhere.

And then I'm going to check on my curry.

So at this point,

we're ready to add the curry roux that we made.

It's reduced some,

and I can tell that my squash is very tender.

So I'm going to go in with my curry roux.

Whole thing, whoa.

Stir this in.

I'm going to let this simmer

for another about 8 to 10 minutes.

Oh, you know what, actually, I have to add one more thing.

I'm going to add a little bit of honey.

You know almost always,

you'll find a sweetening agent in Japanese curry,

whether that is fruit, like a grated apple,

honey, sugar.

And you can already see it starting

to get that gravy quality, which is great.

It's pretty much where I want it to be.

I can tell because when I start to stir it,

it's starting to stick to the edge of the pot.

I'm going to turn this off,

and I think we're ready to plate some katsu curry.

Spoonful of that.

Take some of our curry, which is super, super thick now.

And then finally to finish,

we're going to slice into one of our katsu cutlets,

and just going to plate this right in the middle there.

And we're going to finish off with some scallions.

And that is our katsu curry,

with winter squash and mushrooms.

It smells so good.

Just the fried pork, curry, rice.

That is so good.

There's truly nothing better than that combo

of the crunchy cutlet and creamy, velvety, spicy curry

that also has these really wonderful bites of sweetness

from the winter squash.

The rice is just pure comfort to me.

This is just everything I want in one bowl.

Try with the cutlet, but if not,

you're just in for a big old winter bowl cozy right here.

We could stand here and watch me eat this.

I'll eat it all.

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