Wafuu Curry recipe (Japanese-style curry)

The restaurants in Japan have plastic models of the food they serve in the window, which is helpful for those of us who don’t speak Japanese. On a trip to Aomori in 1976, while I actually pointed at–and thought I ordered–something else, I was served this curry.  It was delicious.  However, for our second and third meals on that trip, no matter what I pointed at, I was served Wafuu Curry. It was still delicious, but I would have preferred a little more variety! It’s one of those great travel stories, even more than 30 years later.

I found this recipe in an old copy of Saveur Magazine and tried it a couple of months ago. It instantly brought back memories of our tour of duty in northern Japan and that trip to Aomori.

Wafuu Curry

(Japanese-Style Curry)

Sachiko Kakizawa, Saveur Magazine

Serves 4

3 c. chicken stock

1 T. canola or peanut oil

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1” chunks

salt and freshly ground pepper

3 T. butter

1 tsp. finely chopped fresh ginger

1 medium yellow onion, 1/2 finely chopped, 1/2 cut into 1” pieces

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

3 T. flour

2 T. curry powder, preferably S&B brand

2 T. crushed tomatoes

1 dried bay leaf

1 medium carrot, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2” rounds

1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut into 1” chunks

1 small Fuji apple, peeled, cored and coarsely grated

1 tsp. honey

1 T. soy sauce

steamed short-grain white rice

    Bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a medium pot over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a simmer.  Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Season chicken thighs all over with salt and pepper to taste, add to the skillet, and cook, stirring and turning frequently, until deep golden brown on all sides, about 4 minutes.  Remove the skillet from the heat, transfer the chicken to a large plate and set aside.

    Return the skillet to medium-high heat and melt the butter.  Add the ginger, chopped onions, and garlic and cook, stirring often to scrape up any browned bits, until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes.  Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is evenly browned, about 2 minutes.  Add the curry powder and the tomatoes, stir well to combine, and remove the skillet from the heat.  Add 1/2 cup of hot chicken stock and whisk vigorously to combine, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of skillet.  (The browned bits will contribute greatly to the taste and color of the curry.)  Whisk the curry mixture into the pot of simmering chicken stock, then add the reserved browned chicken thigh pieces, onion pieces, bay leaf, carrots and potatoes.  Bring the curry to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

    Add the apples, honey, soy sauce and salt to taste to the curry and stir well to combine.  Cook the curry, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat, until the flavors meld, about 5 minutes more.  Serve the curry with steamed short-grain rice.


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