Tallahassee Foodies Pro Feature – Welcome to another edition of “Tallahassee Foodies Pro Feature”. Once a week, I’m inviting a local expert in our community as our guest to share a little bit about what they do so well! Today, I am thrilled to welcome Chef Leon Brunson! If you’ve ever sat at the Kool Beans counter, then you probably already know him for his skill, fun personality and delicious food! Today, he is focusing on his independent chef career and online classes, which are amazing! I’ve enjoyed a few Saturday evenings watching his classes on Facebook Live. I’ll let Leon take it from here…
If you were to take all the curries in the world and play a game of telephone with them, Japanese curry would be the last deviation of it’s distant relatives. Japanese Curry, while not as popular as it’s other Asian counterparts, is wildly distinct in flavor, texture, and preparation. On my first trip to Japan, I was recommended a curry house called coco ichibanya. I ordered the level 3 spicy curry with rice. What was brought to me looked like a thick gravy, but tasted of curry spices, notes of sweetness, and an unforgettable texture. This dish is a comfort food in Japan due to it’s simple preparation and warm nature. You may find it to be a part of your favorite comfort foods after this post. What’s important to understand is that the flavor of this curry pulls away from the spicy nature of it’s relatives and pushes more onto a sweet, and rich side.
It takes a simple block of curry roux, stock, vegetables/protein of your choice, and some rice. Within 30 minutes you can have a delicious dinner that will taste professional and fresh.
Way too simple right? The most important part of this recipe is the curry roux block. A “roux” is a thickening agent that is composed of equal parts fat and flour. This recipe is loved all over the world because of its convenience. Instead of toasting coriander, cumin, cardamom, black pepper, fennel seed, cinnamon, fenugreek, clove, and every other spice you have in your cabinet, Japan and other parts of the world have made a block that takes on the responsibility of getting those flavors and thickening your liquid. If you wish to make your own curry roux, your spice blend can be tailored to your specific flavor profiles and create a unique curry. For the sake of experiencing the same comfort food eaten in Japan, let’s use the roux block.
I went to Lynn’s Oriental Market here in Tallahassee off of Capital Circle Southeast. Shop local!! They carry a number of different curry roux’s , cheap produce, and GREAT products. I always spend way more money than I intend to in here. If the location is inconvenient for you but you still want to make this recipe then check out your local Publix. Publix does carry the S&B Curry in the international aisle.
Here’s an example of four different companies who produce their own curry blends. As you can see, they all come in different variations of spice levels. So if you like curry, but don’t want it spicy then don’t worry! There are mild options that won’t have you looking for the closest glass of water. These have their own special flavors to them but my favorite in terms of overall depth and blend of spice is “Kokumaro”
A strikingly simple list of ingredients that will yield dinner and lunch for the next day. I enjoy the Zoupp chicken stock when I have run out of my house made chicken stock. Better than bouillon makes an incredible base as well. I also always buy organic carrots. Make sure you’re using low sodium when cooking something that needs to reduce. As you cook liquids down, they become more concentrated in flavor. This is especially true with sodium.
The fun part about Japanese Curry is that it does not require professional knife skills. Chop the vegetables up, throw them in the pot, and you’re good to go. But, you should take note of this step here! I have julienned my onions and want them to caramelize so I can get a nice color into my curry and also added sweetness from the onions. The biggest piece of advice I can give to you guys when caramelizing onions is to cook them at a lower temperature than you think and for longer than you think. This will ensure a nice sweetness and golden brown color versus bitter sweetnesses with a dark brown color.
You can start to see the “fond” develop on the bottom of the pan. Luckily for us, this is where all the flavor hangs out and will release itself from the pan once liquid comes in contact with it. Otherwise known as deglazing. This is when you know your onions are good to go.
Chop your potatoes into medium dice. It is not important that you peel your potatoes. I just peeled mine so I could fry the skins and eat them with some berbere spice. Peel your carrots and chop them into desired size. These need to be close to each other in size so that they will cook together. Oh yeah, that peeler? It’s going to be the best peeler you have ever touched. Best part? They’re cheap (here at Amazon)!!!
After adding your potatoes and carrots into the pot with your onions, add your stock. If you’re making a vegetarian curry use vegetable stock. If you’re making a beef curry, use beef stock. If you like chicken stock and want to add it, do it! These options yield a depth of flavor that water can’t, but if water is your only option it will work as well. Bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until your potatoes and carrots are soft. 20-30 minutes.
Remember that curry roux block I from earlier? Once your potatoes are ready, it’s time to add this magical and mysterious block of food to your stock. I prefer to chop my roux block up to make incorporation easier. The blocks will break down faster, there won’t be any clumps, and you’ll get a thicker product.
As you can see from this beautifully blurry picture, the viscosity of our product has drastically changed after adding our curry roux block. It’s important to whisk this guy into our liquid until fully incorporated.
I made a batch of sticky rice, and miso glazed bok choy to serve with this delicious curry. At the end of this I’m left with a delicious smelling house, full belly, and food to share with friends and family. It allows you to step out of your comfort zone and cook comfort food from a different culture. I believe in inspiring confidence in the kitchen and this is a dish that will make you feel like a professional and ready to learn about comfort foods from other countries as well.
- 1 Box Curry Roux
- 8-10 oz protein optional chicken, lamb, beef
- 2 onions julienned
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 potato medium dice
- 3 carrots medium dice
- 4 cups of stock
- Add 1 tablespoon of cooking fat to the pan and add your onions. Season with kosher salt and black pepper and cook over a medium heat for 15 minutes. Until golden brown.
- Add the potato and the carrots and stir.
- Add the stock to the pan and bring to a boil. Boil for one minute then reduce the pan to a medium heat and cook until potatoes and carrots are soft. 20-30 minutes.
- Whisk curry roux into the pot and ensure that all of the roux gets incorporated.
- Simmer for 10 minutes to ensure it thickens and serve with rice.