Karē came to Japan in the Meiji era (1868-1912) via Britain. At the time, Britain was being all conquistador on India, so they brought over curry to Japan. The Japanese changed it to be more to their tastes, but in essence it is more similar to British style curry than traditional Indian, being more stew-like and sweeter. Since it was introduced by the British it is considered yoshoku, a western style dish.
Now of course Japanese Americans have brought it over here, where we tinker with it like all good hapa food.
|don't let this curry roux fool you, its not hot|
Honestly, I rarely make it with potatoes or carrots, just because I tend to grab whatever veggies I have on hand and throw them in the pot, plus you have to cook longer to get the potatoes soft. I always put in peas, which puzzled my coworker who is a Japanese food aficionado.
"Umm... why does your karē have peas? Karē doesn't have peas?"
"Uhhh... I don't honestly know. When I think of homemade karē, I think of peas..."
I asked my mother, and she said the exact same thing as me. Apparently my grandmother would always use peas, so my mom did, so I do. Honestly I think it's because frozen peas are cheap, good quality and easy, no peeling or cutting necessary, and my grandmother is very resourceful like that. Regardless, I thought this was kinda cool, how the way you cook lives on in your family.
This is one of the first hapa foods I can remember cooking. My mom would plunk a pot on the stove, put down a bag of peas, meat, and a roux block and tell me to just follow the instructions on the box as she went off to do something else. Even though it was written mostly in Japanese... thanks mom... lol! *I took a Japanese class recently, so I am getting better at reading the back of boxes!
I always throw in water chestnuts, because they are also an easy no prep veggie since you can buy them canned and sliced. Just drain and you're good to go. Plus their crunch adds a nice element usually missing in curry. And I just plain LOVE water chestnuts.
Since ease and speed is the name of the game, I made my curry sauce from a premade roux block, like most Japanese do. However, you can make it from scratch, and that is pretty tasty.
|what the block looks like|
Uomoto Style Karē
1/2 box curry roux block
1/2lbs of frozen peas
1 can of sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/2lbs of frozen cooked and shelled shrimp, tails off and thawed
1/2 a yellow onion, sliced
1 tbs grated ginger
1 tbs grated garlic
3 cups water
In the bottom of a saucepan, heat the grated ginger, garlic, and onion over medium until the onion is translucent. Add in the peas, shrimp, and water chestnuts. Pour the water in, and turn heat up to medium high. Once boiling, turn off the heat and break the roux block into quarters. Put the quarters in the pot and stir constantly to melt into the water. When completely melted, turn the heat back to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off heat, and ladle over rice.
This reheats amazingly well. I take out my bento boxes and tupperwares and use a cup of rice with this spooned over the top of it for karē-raisu, aka curry over rice.
|It will look soupy, but simmer it!|