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Jun 20, 2020

Japanese Beef Curry

This Japanese beef curry is rich and thick, and full of beef, carrots, onions, and potatoes. The flavor is mild and slightly sweet, and is delicious over rice or noodles.

Japanese Beef Curry

This Japanese curry beef, served over white rice (called karē raisu) is one of those dishes where, once you taste it, you will wonder where it has been all your life. I've been in love with this dish ever since I first tried it about three years ago.

It's both sweet and savory, totally rich, and a wonderful twist on beef stew. In its simplest form, it's made with beef, onions, carrots, and potatoes, and finished with Japanese curry roux. The resulting gravy is amazing.

Japanese Beef Curry stew

What is Japanese curry?

Curry was brought to Japan by the British from India just before the turn of the 20th century. It first was served to the Japanese Navy to prevent thiamine deficiency, and then made its way to school cafeterias. 

Finally, in the 1960s, it became popular in restaurants and with home cooks. It's now considered a national dish in Japan, on par with ramen.

Basically, Japanese beef curry consists of beef, onions, carrots, potatoes, and curry roux. You can make your own curry roux by cooking curry spices, flour, oil, and other spices, but home cooks in Japan typically use instant curry roux. They are typically found in blocks and come in different flavors.

Japanese curry roux

You can find Japanese curry roux in Japanese grocery stores or in the International aisle of your grocery store. If you find yours in a standard grocery store, you'll notice that the boxes are smaller, about half the size of the ones in Japanese grocery stores.

The two most prominent brands are House Foods and S&B. I ended up using this Vermont Curry from House Foods, because the rest of the brands were cleaned out. Don't get me wrong, I love this one, but I like mixing up different flavors to add complexity.

P.S. While it says "hot," it's not hot at all. Not even close! And why Vermont? That's probably because it has a hint of apple and honey.

Japanese Beef Curry stew with rice

I first tried this curry roux in a Japanese curry for karē pan (Japanese curry buns), which are also a favorite in Japan.

Check out the gorgeous and delicious buns, made with bread dough stuffed with Japanese beef curry, coated in panko, and deep fried. It's a great way to use leftover Japanese beef curry. Just chop the beef and carrots into tiny pieces and mash the potatoes to further thicken the sauce.

kare pan

Tips for making flavorful Japanese Beef Curry: 

For this karē raisu (Japanese curry rice), I added extra flavorings, including Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, ginger, garlic, red wine, and beef stock. 

You can mix up the store bought curry roux flavors, using different ones to customize your curry beef.

You could also add mushrooms with the vegetables for extra richness.

If you want to be extra adventurous, you can make your own curry roux. I'm a big fan of this recipe from Just One Cookbook.

Japanese kare pan stuffing

I've always been interested in some of the popular dishes of Japan like this beef curry that are adaptations of dishes from other countries that pretty much become popular dishes. Some of my favorite discoveries include:

Japanese Beef Curry over rice

This month, the Soup Saturday Swappers are making Asian inspired soups, hosted by Pandemonium Noshery. I'm excited to check out everyone's recipes!

Japanese Beef Curry Recipe (Karē Raisu)

Japanese Beef Curry Recipe (Karē Raisu)
Yield: 6 servings
This Japanese beef curry is rich and thick, and full of beef, carrots, onions, and potatoes. The flavor is mild and slightly sweet, and is delicious over rice or noodles.


  • 2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3 onions (2 1/2 pounds) sweet or brown onions, halved, and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch by 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3 large carrots (2 1/2 pounds) peeled and sliced on an angle
  • 1 large russet potato (12 ounces) peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks, placed in water to keep from browning
  • 6 to 8 cups beef stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1- 4 ounce plus box of Japanese curry roux
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 peeled tart apple, grated
  • White rice for serving


  1. Salt and pepper the beef cubes and toss with the flour. 
  2. In a heavy Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter on high heat. Cook the meat in batches on all sides until browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the beef to a plate. 
  3. In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter on medium heat and add the onions and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine. Cook for at least 20 minutes and up to 40 minutes, depending on the level of caramelization you want. 
  4. Add the garlic, ginger, curry powder, and tomato paste. Cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes. 
  5. Add the beef back to the pan and pour in the wine. Cook for 5 minutes until most of the alcohol evaporates. 
  6. Add the carrots, potatoes, beef stock, and bring the mixture to a boil. As it boils, skim the top to remove any "scum." 
  7. Add the bay leaf and cover, leaving the lid very slightly ajar, and simmer for 20 minutes, skimming occasionally. 
  8. Remove about 1 cup of the broth from the pot and dissolve the curry roux into it. Add the mixture back into the pot. 
  9. Add the milk, Worcestershire sauce, and grated apple to the pot and cook on low, uncovered, until the mixture reaches the consistency that you like. 
  10. Remove the bay leaves and serve over white rice. 
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Japanese curry beef
Beef, curry
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This recipe was inspired by Just One Cookbook.

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Would you like to comment?

  1. That looks amazing, love the combo of ingredients in it.

  2. I love Japanese curry, I love some of the complex flavor additions you included!

  3. This sounds delicious. I'll have to check for this curry roux the next time I'm at the International Marketplace. Thanks for lettimg me know about the heat factor. I wouldn't have bought it had I thought it was hot.

    1. I've always wondered about those little boxes of curry!

  4. What a beautiful looking stew, so thick and rich! I wish they had a vegetarian version of that curry roux, because I would love to make this recipe. :( I may try to find a homemade recipe for the roux, so I can adapt it.

    1. Actually, the store bought roux is vegetarian.

  5. That bowl of beef curry looks so delicious Karen!

  6. I just made this recipe. My husband and I are eating it right now! I just had to leave a comment. It’s amazing. Follow the recipe and you are in for a great dinner.

    1. You just made me very happy! Thanks for the feedback!

  7. My mother in-law was Japanese and taught me how to make this dish. She added 2 tablespoons of honey and 2 Fuji (shredded) apples (how her mother taught her to make it). So delicious!!


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