Friday, November 28, 2008

Japanese Curry vs. Indian Curry

The Japanese have a love affair with all things foreign: movies, fashion, sports and most especially food. And just as the Japanese took baseball and made it uniquely their own, they similarly took the Indian staple of curry and transformed into an instant classic know as Japanese curry.

The first thing you'll notice is how different Japanese curry looks from Indian curry; instead of the yellow or red curry sauce at an Indian restaurant, Japanese curry is thick and brown, resembling beef stew more than anything and is made from a curry paste. The second thing you'll notice is that Japanese curry isn't hot and spicy - it's about as mild as a plate of catchup.

And this smooth and mild flavor probably explains why it's a real kid's favorite in Japan, on par with grilled cheese and pizza for American children. And it is a truism of Japanese culture that you can go to ten japanese homes and be sure to experience ten unique variations on this classic dish. And, of course, every Japanese child grows up preferring the way his mother made it!

Your average Japanese mom buys little brown blocks of curry powder that resemble bullion cubes, which she adds to boiled water to create a curry paste. Japanese curry is always served with sticky white rice (of course) and then depending on who is the chef, the curry will contain either beef or pork, and then usually potatoes, carrots and/or onions. Each Japanese mom will have her own private Japanese curry recipe.

The meal is so popular that one can easily find Japanese restaurants called "Curry Houses" that specialize in this dish for the common man (or child), all over Japan and even in Japanese communities of Southern California.

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