Japanese Chicken Curry (From the Box)

Main Dishes, Recipes

Back in college, I used to spend a lot of my time (and money) perusing the local Japanese supermarket in the Sawtelle / Little Osaka area. Some grocery shopping trips would yield a cornucopia of fresh ingredients like enoki mushrooms and sashimi grade salmon, and others would be geared toward restocking my pantry with staples like furikake and yakisoba. Among the latter would always be a box of Japanese curry mix. Heavily seasoned blocks of curry roux, these were essential to making a hearty meal in the dead of winter when I was too busy studying to truly make something from scratch. Nowadays, I still keep a box or two around for weeknight meals that appear impressive with minimal effort.

Japanese Chicken Curry over Spaghetti

Japanese Chicken Curry over Spaghetti

Japanese curry roux generally comes in three levels — mild, medium hot, and hot/spicy. There is also a variety of brands available depending on your area and grocery store. Even if you are not located near an Asian supermarket, you could probably find S&B Golden Curry at your local grocery chain in the “Asian food” aisle. I prefer buying the mild kind and spicing it up with La Yu chili oil to my preference. This enables you to taste the flavors of the curry mix without the spice level dominating your palate. Also, the first step (marinating the protein in mirin) is optional, but I think this sweet rice wine is ideal for bringing out that great umami flavor that sets this curry apart from your neighbor’s.

Ingredients:

Ingredients:

1/2 medium onion, diced

1 lb boneless chicken, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 lb potatoes (I used mini yukon golds and quartered them)

2 carrots, sliced

2 tablespoons mirin

salt & pepper

2-3 cups water

1 100g (3.5 oz) package of Japanese curry mix

few drops of La Yu chili oil (optional)

Side/grain: rice, noodles, spaghetti, or crusty bread

Marinate the Chicken

Marinate the Chicken

Cut up the chicken and place in a large bowl. Season with salt (or garlic salt as pictured) and black pepper and drizzle with mirin. Toss to combine and set aside.

Prepare your mise en place

Prepare your mise en place

Chop the onions, potatoes, and carrots. Set aside. If using mini/young potatoes, you do not have to peel them.

Saute the Onions

Saute the Onions

In a large pot (I used my 4.5 quart dutch oven), saute the onions in a light drizzle of oil, about 1 teaspoon, on medium heat. You want them softened and translucent but not too browned.

Add the Chicken

Add the Chicken

Add the chicken, mirin and all, and try to caramelize each side for added flavor. Saute for a few minutes.

Add the Veg and Water

Add the Veg and Water

Toss in the vegetables and pour in enough water to cover. The box instructions will likely say 500 mL (about 2 cups). I added extra, but not more than 3 cups total.

Testing the Potato

Testing the Potato

Bring the pot to a boil and then turn the heat down. Leave it at a steady simmer until the potatoes and carrots are fork-tender, about 15 minutes.

Adding the Curry Mix

Adding the Curry Mix

While still in the package, break up the curry roux into chunks. Tear open the package and add the chunks to the pot. Stir well to evenly distribute and let simmer for another 5 minutes for the sauce to thicken, stirring constantly.

Ready to Nom!

Ready to Nom!

Serve immediately over steamed rice or noodles or even pasta. If serving over rice, might I offer a suggestion…

Rice Well

Rice Well, Ready to Pile High

Using the paddle that you used to scoop the rice out of the rice cooker, press a small well into the center of the mound. This will hold in the “good stuff” while letting the sauce run over the sides to flavor all of the rice.

Voila! Japanese chicken curry over rice.

Voila! Japanese chicken curry over rice.

Personally, I prefer noodles over rice, so I will often cook up some boxed spaghetti or utilize leftover pasta as my starchy base for Japanese curry. I also like my curries spicy, so if you look really closely, you can see the glistening crimson drops of chili oil on my portion…

Japanese chicken curry over spaghetti

Japanese chicken curry over spaghetti

Itadakimasu~!

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PS: I know our posting schedule has fluctuated over the years. While I would love to continue with twice a week posts, I’ve made a (good) major life change lately that will no longer allow for me to feasibly keep up with that schedule. We appreciate your patience as we revert to our once-weekly schedule (ideally Mondays, but sometimes Tuesday or Wednesday). :) We love you, Nom Nom Cat readers!

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Potato Gnocchi

Appetizers and Starters, Main Dishes, Recipes

Gnocchi. Nyo-kee. More than just a funny-sounding word for an Italian dumpling, gnocchi are fluffy pillows of potato or ricotta based dough swimming in sauces that vary from a simple brown butter to a rich bolognese. It is one of our favorite dishes to order when we go out for Italian, especially at places notorious for their homemade pasta. Finally one day, Martin had the brilliant idea to try making gnocchi ourselves.

Potato Gnocchi alla Arrabiatta

Potato Gnocchi alla Arrabiatta

As it turned out, making the gnocchi dough was relatively easy – considerably less finicky than semolina pasta dough. It does take some time to bake and cool the potatoes, but I think it’s worth having to plan ahead; baking yields a better dough texture than boiling does.

Ingredients:

2 pounds of russet potatoes

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 egg yolks

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt

(Thank you to Simply Recipes for the ingredient proportions and the crucial tip to bake instead of boil the potatoes!)

Potatoes: ready for the oven

Potatoes: ready for the oven

Scrub the potatoes under running water, leaving the skins on. Stab the potatoes all around with a fork, the way you would when baking sweet potatoes. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, arrange the potatoes equidistant from each other, and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour.

Time to cool the potatoes!

Time to cool the potatoes!

When the potatoes are tender and the skins have started to wrinkle and pull away, transfer to a cooling rack and slice them open down the middle to let the steam escape. I waited about 15-20 minutes until the potatoes were still warm but cool enough to handle.

Using a potato ricer

Using a potato ricer

Remove the potatoes from their skins and either mash with a fork or strain through a potato ricer into a large bowl.

The dough ingredients

The dough ingredients

Add the two egg yolks , lightly beaten, and the flour and salt to the potatoes.

Ball of gnocchi dough

Ball of gnocchi dough

Stir to combine but do not overwork the dough or the gnocchi will be tough and dense instead of light and fluffy. The mixture should just start to form a doughy ball.

Rolling out the dough

Rolling out the dough

Lightly dust a cutting board with all purpose flour. Working with a handful of dough at a time, gently roll out a tube about the size of a breadstick.

Cutting the dough

Cutting the dough

Using a sharp paring knife, cut the rolled out dough into small pieces, about 1 inch long.

Rolling the gnocchi on a gnocchi board

Rolling the gnocchi on a gnocchi board

We have a gnocchi board, but you could also use the back of a dinner fork to roll out the gnocchi. Whichever you choose, be sure to flour it so your gnocchi don’t stick. Holding the board (or fork) at a 45 degree angle, start the gnocchi at the top and press down and forward with your thumb. It is hard to describe, but you are essentially smearing the dough so that rolls over on top of itself as demonstrated in this how-to video we found on Youtube.

Our dumpling army

Our dumpling army

Set your finished gnocchi aside on a floured baking sheet and repeat until you use up all of the dough.

Just wait until they float!

Just wait until they float!

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the gnocchi in batches, maybe two handfuls at a time. They will be done when they float. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and transfer to a serving dish or individual bowls.

The next batches, patiently waiting

The next batches, patiently waiting

Just top with your favorite sauce — we used a simple arrabiatta made with garlic, white wine, canned San Marzano tomatoes, and dried red pepper flakes. The ridges are great for catching the sauce, and each gnocco is a tender, pillowy cloud of potato goodness.

Our gnocchi cooking station

Our gnocchi cooking station

Writing this entry made me crave a warm, hearty bowl of gnocchi again… I think my next experiment will be a sweet potato gnocchi with a sage brown butter sauce. Will report back on how that goes!

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our-growing-edge-badgeThis post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. While Martin and I have made fresh pasta on many occasions, making our own gnocchi had always been just another item on our Bucket List until recently. In retrospect, it is a bit ironic that the small wooden gnocchi board was a more intimidating piece of equipment than our Marcato pasta maker.

This month is hosted by Stacey at The Veggie Mama.

Cheers!