How to make quick and easy Japanese curry chicken

Ever since Baby Matilda came along, I haven’t had much time or energy to cook. Being a first-time mother is an unimaginably overwhelming and exhausting experience! Thankfully, mother-in-law (who lives nearby) cooks an extra dinner portion for us on weekdays so that we won’t have to eat out everyday.

Homemade Jap curry with rice - simple and satisfying!

On weekends, I try to whip up something quick and easy to cook and clean up. Usually, it’s a one-dish meal like soup, stew, or noodles. One of our favorite meals is my own version of Japanese curry chicken. Below is a step-by-step pictorial guide:

I don’t have an exact recipe, but this is what I usually do:

Julia’s quick and easy (but not necessarily authentic) Japanese curry chicken recipe (serves 2)

  • 1 brown skinned onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 potato (use the yellow, waxy variety. A floury variety like Russet will disintegrate, not suitable for stewing)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1 large boneless chicken leg (or breast, but leg is more tender and smooth)
  • a handful of frozen peas (optional)
  • instant Japanese curry roux

Carrot, potato, onion, garlic.

1. Cut the potato and carrot into cubes or rolling wedges, about half thumb-size. Cut the onion into dices.

Chicken and peas.

2. Cut the chicken into cubes. Marinate with a little sugar, light soy sauce, and corn starch. This step is optional but I find that it makes the meat smoother and more flavorful.

3. Rinse the frozen green peas, drain, and set aside.

Japanese instant curry roux.

Most supermarkets sell Japanese instant curry roux. The most common brands are House and S&B.

Our preference is House Food’s Vermont Curry (Medium Hot). Actually, by our local standards, it’s not spicy at all. It’s so mild even kids can eat it!

Don’t bother with the Hot version. It’s not spicier than Medium Hot; it simply has a higher content of curry powder, which I find too pungent.

Curry, not chocolate!

The curry roux comes in blocks of rectangles, like chocolate bars. I usually use 2 or 3 rectangles for 2 persons, depending on the amount of ingredients and liquid.

Onions in the pot.

4. Add about 1 tablespoon of oil into a heavy bottomed pot. Saute onions till translucent (not browned). Add garlic.

Add water!

5. Add potato and carrot. Fry briefly with onion. Add enough water to cover the vegetables (don’t add too much). Cover the pot and let simmer.

Add curry and chicken!

6. When the potato and carrot are just soft enough to be pierced with a fork (but not too soft), add the curry roux and chicken.

Stir to mix!

7. Stir and mix till the curry roux dissolves. Cover and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes to let the mixture reduce and thicken. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pot from time to time, to prevent the mixture from burning.

Add peas if you like!

8. When ready, stir in the green peas and simmer for a minute.

Dinner is served!

9. Serve with steamy-hot rice. Both Japanese short-grain or Thai jasmine rice are just as good. Remember to cook more rice, cos everyone is bound to ask for second helpings to go with that delicious gravy!

Usually, I take 10 minutes to prep the ingredients. Cooking time is about 20 minutes, during which I clean up the utensils and dishes. A simple and hearty meal in 30 minutes — Banzai!

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