Homemade Japanese Curry Roux
One of my favorite things to eat in Japan is curry, which sounds weird to a lot of people. However the history between Japan and curry is an extremely old relationship, and in fact homemade Japanese curry is one of the most popular home foods! Now the major difference between Japanese curry and the Indian counterpart we usually assume, is that a Japanese curry uses a roux. That is an emulsion of butter and flour to start the sauce instead of oil or coconut milk like in many other cultures’ recipes.
I remember the first time I visited Japan to see my Japanese cousins and we went to a simple eatery and got curry rice (カレ-ライス). I was hooked. I even ended up bringing a whole bunch of S&B Golden Curry packets back to America so I can make my own. However making a homemade Japanese curry roux is so much more satisfying, and you can adjust the spices to your desire. Plus it’s awesome making a huge batch to have ALL the Chicken Katsu Curry on rainy days.
Now there are a huge variety in Japanese curries, so I doubt my recipe will be similar to what you’ve had before, but it does use spices common in many popular Japanese curries. In fact, the awesome thing about making a homemade Japanese curry roux is adjusting to your preferences.
For my spice blend I start with a tablespoon each of Garam Masala and Sweet Curry Powder. To that I add two teaspoons of cumin, and then a teaspoon each of fenugreek, and ground fennel seed. Finally I add in half a teaspoon of Curcuma and black pepper. Just mix that up and voila, a Japanese curry powder blend.
Next it’s time to make the roux. I start with 100 grams of butter and begin to melt it on low heat. Once it is fully melted I add in a tablespoon of flour. Now, a normal roux is 1:1 butter to flour, and 100 grams of flour is quite a lot. Instead I add a little flour, because the spice blend will absorb a ton of the butter as well. You want a fairly liquid paste at this point.
Once the flour is absorbed add in all the spices and whisk everything up. It should become extremely clumpy. This is okay. Let the clumpy roux mixture toast a bit so you can really start to smell the spices. Then trickle in a bit of water until you get your desired consistency. Remember, Japanese curry is much thicker than most other curries, but you still want it to be “pourable”, if that helps with achieving your desired consistency.
If it is too hard to whisk in the pan you can move everything over to a bowl and stir it there. This recipe provides more than enough curry for four Chicken Katsu Curry dishes, plus some extra for a healthy helping of curry rice.
Japanese Curry Roux
- 100 grams Butter
- 2 tbsp Flour
- 1 tbsp Garam Masala
- 1 tbsp Curry Powder can use sweet or spicy, I prefer sweet when making Japanese curries
- 2 tsp Cumin ground
- 1 tsp Fenugreek
- 1 tsp Fennel Seed ground
- 1/2 tsp Curcuma ground
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
- Soy Sauce to taste
- 2 cups Water more or less to achieve your desired consistency
- For my spice blend I start with a tablespoon each of Garam Masala and Sweet Curry Powder. To that I add two teaspoons of cumin, and then a teaspoon each of fenugreek, and ground fennel seed. Finally I add in half a teaspoon of Curcuma and black pepper. Just mix that up and voila, a Japanese curry powder blend.
- In a pan on low heat begin heating the butter. When the butter is fully melted add in the flour and whisk. You want the flour to thicken the sauce, but not enough for it to clump yet. The spice blend will achieve what leaving out excess flour.
- Next shake in the spice blend and stir it in. Now the roux should be getting clumpy and paste-like. Let the clumpy roux toast a bit until everything is very fragrant. Then slowly start trickling in the water whisking the entire time.
- Move to a re-sealable bowl or container for use in a variety of recipes. Or just spoon over some freshly made rice and enjoy!