Many of us have been exposed to delicious Japanese curry sauce in popular Japanese chain restaurants like Wagamamas and Yo!Sushi, often these restaurants serve Katsu curry, but despite the common misconception katsu refers to the crispy breaded meat or tofu, not necessarily the curry! Japanese curries range in many flavours, but they are not the same as Chinese or Indian curries and have a quite distinguishable taste.
Japanese curry is often lighter than other curries because it doesn't often use a lot of fat like butter or oil. Japanese curry instead is often made of blended veggies and plenty of curry powder, bay leaf and stock. Katsu curry like the one in the popular restaurant is often made with a lot of carrots, which you probably couldn't taste at first! However, they help give a lovely sweetness to curries.
This Japanese curry recipe, however, is based on a fruitier concoction! The main element in this sauce is apple, which leads to a tart but delicious sauce that's perfect with panko-breaded meats and tofu, or simply served over rice when you want something warming and yummy!
Make a curry paste by adding the onion, apple, garlic and ginger to a blender and whizzing until smooth. When at a paste consistency, add to a pan with a little sesame oil (or vegetable oil if you prefer) and cook on medium heat until the paste reduces by half and starts to turn a caramelly brown. This should take 10-15 minutes.
Add the curry powder and the cumin then cook further until the room fills with curry fragrance!
Then you can add the liquids. Pour in the stock, milk and add the Japanese curry roux. Simmer and stir until the ingredients are all combined and the curry thickens. The sauce will reduce again in volume.
At the very end, add the cocoa powder. Taste your curry, and season appropriately. It may need some salt and pepper, or if it is too sweet it might need a little splash of rice wine vinegar to sharpen it. If it is too tart, add a little brown sugar. The curry will need balancing at this stage because of course, apples don't always have the same sweetness - it just depends on the season and the brand of apple you are using.
Apparently a trick of the trade is to make your curry the night before you want it for dinner, because leaving it to sit overnight helps the flavours develop.
Serve your curry over rice, or add in some cooked veggies like carrot, sugar snap peas and peppers. Japanese curry also makes good bento, you can place it over rice in a microwavable box and warm it up in work!