Vegan Japanese Curry Rice with 'Beef' - ビーガンビーフカレー! Sweet and savory flavors in a rich curry sauce paired with chunks of soft vegetables and “beef” strips that melt in your mouth. The Japanese version of a curry is mild and has almost a stew-like texture. You just have to try this easy classic Japanese dish.
💡 The recipe in a nutshell
- Vegan (eggless and dairy free)
- Easy to make
- Incredibly delicious meal!
- Traditional home cooking made plant-based
- Bring the flavors of the Japanese Cuisine into your home
🇯🇵 History and Origin
Japanese Curry Rice or Karē Raisu (カレーライス) is an extremely popular dish for all ages in Japan and it is considered one of the country’s national dishes along with Ramen and Gyoza.
Curry is usually known as a typical Indian or Thai dish, and was brought to Japan during the Meiji era (1868–1912). The British brought it when India was under colonial rule. It was served to the Japanese Imperial Navy to prevent thiamine (vitamin B-1) deficiency. During the 1960s and 70s curry finally made its appearance in restaurants and supermarkets. From there it became a beloved staple across Japan.
💭 Does it taste like Indian or Thai curry?
No, the flavor of Japanese curry is quite different from Indian or Thai curry. The texture of Japanese curry is thicker, milder, sweeter and usually served with rice. There is no choice between yellow, red, or green curry like you have with Thai curry. Instead, there are usually three degrees of spiciness indicating mild, medium hot, or hot.
🥘 What curry to use
This recipe uses Japanes curry roux, which can be found at Asian supermarkets or in the Asian food aisle at your local grocery stores. I usually use the mild roux, since the recipe is adding other spices that’ll heat up this Curry. However, feel free to use any spice level you are most comfortable with. Always check the ingredient list before buying a Japanese curry roux to see if suitable for your vegan diet.
🐄 How to: vegan beef
For the beef strips, the recipe uses textured vegetable protein, also known as soy slices. You can get it at your local Asian supermarket. But you can also find them online. However, it is way cheaper in Asian supermarkets than online. I usually buy the Verisoy brand and get them for half the price in my local Asian store.
Textured vegetable protein is very easy to prepare. A couple days ahead I usually soak them in water until soft (around 40 minutes). After softening, drain them and marinate the slices for extra flavor. I store the soy slices in an air tight container in the fridge (up to 3 days).
The texture of soy slices is very “meat” like and authentic. That is why I like to add them to this traditional meat-based dish. If you don’t like the texture of meat-like products, you can leave the soy slices. Ass an alternative add a different protein source you like.
Leave out vegan beef strips and serve with Tofu Katsu instead!
Store the curry in an airtight container in your fridge separated from rice for up to three days. Warm up before serving.
❄️ How to freeze
If you want to freeze the Curry you need to remove the potatoes from the curry, as they will change the texture once frozen. Freeze the leftover curry in an airtight freezer-friendly container or bag. Freeze up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge and reheat before serving.
Vegan Japanese Curry Rice with 'Beef'
- 2 medium-sized white onions
- 2 medium-sized carrots
- 1 medium-sized russet potato
- 150 g textured vegetable protein
- 1 knob of fresh ginger finely grated
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter
- 1 tablespoon oilive oil
- 1 tablespoon chili bean sauce (mild alternative: tomato paste)
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon yellow curry powder
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 950 ml water (4 cups)
- 250 ml vegetable broth (1 cup)
- 4 blocks of vegan Japanese Curry Roux eg: S&B Golden Curry
- 1 tablespoon plant milk eg: almond, soy, oat
- cooked, steamed Japanese rice
- Optional sides: Fukujinzuke, Japanese styled pickled vegetables
- Gather all ingredients. Prepare your vegetables: Cut the onion into thin slices. Cut the carrot diagonally while rotating it a quarter between cuts (this is a Japanese cutting technique called “rangiri"). Cut potato in half, and then cut each piece into quarters. Soak in water for 15 minutes to remove the starch.
Cooking the curry
- In a large pot or deep-bottomed skillet, heat butter on medium heat and add your onion slices. Add olive oil and stir to coat the onion with the oil. Sauté the onion until tender and translucent, about 10-20 minutes. If you have more time, you can sauté the onions until caramelized, for about 30-40 minutes.
- Add garlic, ginger, curry powder, chili bean paste, and sauté until flavors have enhanced (around 2 minutes). Then add flavored and prepared vegan beef strips and sautés for 5-15 minutes and stir occasionally. (The more time you invest, the more flavorful the dish gets - but I fully understand when you have to take the short route and only sautés for 5 minutes.)
- Add vegetables, water, vegetable broth, bay leaves, and soy sauce. It should be just enough liquid to cover the ingredients. Bring to a boil, cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes up to 2 hours. If you have time and simmer for longer than 30 minutes stir occasionally.
- Once the ingredients are all tender, add the curry roux. Stir and let 2 pieces of curry roux dissolve completely. Then, if needed, add another few pieces. Adjust the amount of the curry roux to your taste and how fast it thickens the sauce (you may not need to use all the roux). If the curry is too thick for your taste, add water to dilute. From this point, simmer on the lowest heat and stir often, and be careful not to burn the curry!
- Add milk and mix thoroughly. Let your curry simmer until heated through entirely. If the curry is too thin: simmer, uncovered (no lid), stirring occasionally until it reached desired thickness. Serve the curry with Japanese steamed rice and optional top with fukujinzuke (Japanese styled pickled vegetables).
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