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Japanese Beef Curry is a richly spiced curry stew with tender pieces of beef, as well as potato, carrot, and onion in a balanced sweet and savory gravy. The secret to the depth of flavor is the curry roux, which you can easily make yourself or use store-bought if you prefer.

overhead view of bowl of rice and japanese beef curry made with homemade curry roux

If you’re a curry lover but haven’t had Japanese curry, this one is a must-try.

There is some overlap in the spices in Japanese curry and Indian curries. However, there are a few spices in the Japanese version are unique to this type of curry. For example, anise and fennel seeds add very subtle undertones of licorice flavor.

The interesting thing you’ll notice about Japanese curry is its sweetness. This is thanks to classic components like apple and honey.

But the surprise ingredients don’t stop there!

A hint of unsweetened cocoa powder is a traditional ingredient in Japanese curry. Cocoa powder adds rich depth, earthy complexity, and robust color, without adding sweetness. Actually, the bitterness of unsweetened cocoa powder helps create a balanced flavor profile along with the sweet and spicy ingredients.

I can’t wait to make this dish for my niece. She went through an anime phase a while back, and I think she’d go crazy for this stew.

Bookmark this dish for the next time you’re in the mood for Japanese food or want to try a new take on beef curry stew!

spread of rice and japanese beef curry stew recipe

What is Japanese Curry?

Japanese curry is a stew-like dish with a savory gravy that’s redolent with spices and laced with sweetness.

For Japanese beef curry in particular, the velvety brown gravy is similar to beef stew gravy. However, it has a much more robust flavor with a lot more flavor nuances. For Japanese curry with chicken, the gravy is a bit more golden in color.

Japanese curry contains a variety of rich spices, both sweet and savory not-so-secret secret ingredients that create a very intense and unique flavor profile (which I’ll go over in this article), and tender pieces of beef. The vegetables that you’ll typically find in Japanese curry include potato, carrot, and onion.

close up ladle of japanese golden curry with beef

What is Japanese Curry Roux?

Japanese curry roux acts as both a thickener and seasoning for Japanese curry.

You might already be familiar with roux. With origins in French cuisine, it’s commonly used to thicken a variety of soups, stews, and sauces. In its most basic form, roux is butter cooked with flour.

Similarly, Japanese curry roux is fat (typically butter) cooked with flour to make a roux, with a variety of curry spices added. A lot of the spices are what you’d find in an Indian curry as well!

The Best Japanese Beef Curry Recipe with Homemade Curry Roux

Ingredients in Japanese Curry with Beef

ingredients in homemade japanese beef curry recipe

Curry Roux Ingredients:

Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients. Curry roux is actually very easy to make from scratch! It’s just butter and flour with a bunch of different spices.

But with that being said, there are a lot of different spices in curry roux. If you don’t have a well-stocked spice cabinet, it might be easier to buy store-bought curry roux cubes than to make it from scratch.

However, if you have most of the spices you should be good to go. There are so many different spices, you can omit one or two and your curry will still be fine because there are so many other flavors in it!

  • Unsalted butter
  • Coriander
  • Cumin
  • Chili powder
  • Fenugreek
  • Turmeric
  • Cinnamon
  • Thyme
  • Black pepper
  • Cardamom
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves
  • Anise
  • Fennel seeds
  • Sage
  • All-purpose flour

Note that we don’t add salt to our curry roux because we add it to the stew itself.

Japanese Beef Curry Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil – to sear the beef
  • Chuck roast – look for a roast with good marbling (fat running through it)
  • Yellow onion – adds depth of flavor
  • Garlic and ginger – these aromatics add complexity
  • Beef stock – use homemade stock or a store-bought brand that you like
  • Carrot – carrots are a traditional vegetable in Japanese curry; they add an earthy sweetness
  • Yellow potatoes – another classic ingredient in Japanese curry; I use yellow potatoes that have a thin skin so I don’t have to peel them
  • Apple – use a sweet/tart apple, such as Honeycrisp
  • Ketchup – just a little goes a long way here; don’t skip the ketchup though, it adds great depth
  • Worcestershire sauce – this complex-flavored umami sauce is a great pairing with any beef dish
  • Soy sauce – adds yet another layer of savory umami flavor in this curry
  • Honey – honey is a traditional component of Japanese curry that adds sweetness and helps create a balanced flavor profile; if you prefer, you can substitute with any sweetener you like, such as granulated sugar, maple syrup, etc.
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder – this is one of the secret ingredients in Japanese curry that takes it over the top; cocoa powder adds richness and complexity, and no, you won’t be able to taste chocolate
  • Salt and black pepper – to season the stew
  • Bay leaf – don’t worry about it if you don’t have it on hand

How to Make Japanese Beef Curry From Scratch

If you want to make homemade curry roux, I recommend starting with that so it’s out of the way and ready to go. Or you can whip it up during the time that the beef cooks.

How to Make Curry Roux:

how to make japanese curry roux from scratch
  1. Add the butter to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, stir in the spices and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Whisk in the flour and cook 1 minute more.
  3. Remove from the heat (it will harden as it cools).

How to Make Japanese Beef Curry:

cooking the meat for japanese beef curry
  1. Add the vegetable oil to a 5-quart Dutch oven or equivalent pot over high heat. Add the beef cubes in a single layer and sear on both sides, about 3 minutes per side (cook the beef in batches if necessary so you don’t over-crowd the pan).
  2. Stir in the onion and cook until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute. Add 4 cups of beef stock.
  3. Bring up to a boil, then cover the pot, turn the heat down slightly, and boil until the meat is almost fully tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
how to make japanese beef curry
  1. Add the carrot, potato, apple, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, honey, unsweetened cocoa powder, salt, black pepper, bay leaf, and remaining 3 cups beef stock to the pot with the beef.
  2. Stir, and bring up to a boil. Once boiling, cover the pot, turn the heat down slightly, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Once the vegetables are tender, stir in the curry roux (it will be hard; you can crumble it in). Continue to cook while stirring frequently until the curry roux is completely mixed in, about 5 minutes.

Use Store-Bought Curry Roux Cubes Instead of Making Curry Roux From Scratch

Curry roux only takes a couple minutes to make. However, it has a ton of different components that you might not have on hand unless you have a very well-stocked spice cabinet.

Instead of making Japanese curry roux from scratch, you can use store-bought curry cubes. S&B Golden Curry is a popular brand, and they make it in mild, medium, hot, and extra hot spice levels, which are all available for purchase on Amazon. You will need one 8.4 ounce/240 gram box to make this recipe.

close up of japanese curry beef with rice in bowl

Japanese Beef Curry FAQs

What is the Best Meat for Japanese Curry?

Chicken, beef, or pork are all common meat choices for Japanese curry. My personal favorite is beef because its strong flavor lends itself well to the robust gravy and rich spices in Japanese curry roux.

What is the Best Beef for Curry?

If you’re making Japanese curry with beef, choose a cut of meat with good marbling. Marbling is fat running through the meat, giving it a marbled look. This will result in the richest flavor and melt-in-your-mouth-tender pieces of beef.

A well-marbled chuck roast that’s cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes works well for curries and stews.

What Do You Serve with Japanese Curry?

Another name for Japanese curry is “curry rice”, and for good reason. Delicious fluffy rice is the perfect accompaniment for Japanese beef curry. You can make this meal into a curry bowl by adding Japanese pickled vegetables as well. Or if you prefer, go with udon noodles instead of rice.

However, don’t feel like you need to serve it with a side dish to have a satisfying meal. This beef curry stew this is a full meal in itself! It has beef, potatoes, and carrots, and is satisfying and hearty.

front view of japanese curry with rice in bowl

More Curry Stew Recipes to Make

beef curry stew

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Japanese Beef Curry Recipe with Homemade Curry Roux

Prep Time45 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 15 minutes
Yields: 8 servings
Japanese Beef Curry is a richly spiced curry stew with tender pieces of beef, as well as potato, carrot, and onion in a balanced sweet and savory gravy. The secret to the depth of flavor is the curry roux, which you can easily make yourself or use store-bought if you prefer.

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Ingredients
 

Curry Roux:

Japanese Beef Curry:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 pound chuck roast large pieces of fat trimmed off and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 medium yellow onions chopped
  • 6 large cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 7 cups beef stock divided into 4 cups + 3 cups
  • 3 cups chopped carrot
  • 1 pound yellow potatoes chopped (I leave the peel on but you can peel them if you like)
  • 1 sweet-tart apple peeled and shredded (such as Honeycrisp)
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf

Serving Suggestions:

  • Steamed white rice
  • Sliced scallion

Instructions
 

For the Curry Roux:

  • Add the butter to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, stir in the spices and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in the flour and cook 1 minute more. Remove from the heat (it will harden as it cools).

For the Japanese Beef Curry:

  • Add the vegetable oil to a 5-quart Dutch oven or equivalent pot over high heat. Add the beef cubes in a single layer and sear on both sides, about 3 minutes per side (cook the beef in batches if necessary so you don’t over-crowd the pan). Stir in the onion and cook until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute. Add 4 cups of beef stock. Bring up to a boil, then cover the pot, turn the heat down slightly, and boil until the meat is almost fully tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Add the carrot, potato, apple, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, honey, unsweetened cocoa powder, salt, black pepper, bay leaf, and remaining 3 cups beef stock to the pot with the beef. Stir, and bring up to a boil. Once boiling, cover the pot, turn the heat down slightly, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Once the vegetables are tender, stir in the curry roux (it will be hard; you can crumble it in). Continue to cook while stirring frequently until the curry roux is completely mixed in, about 5 minutes.

Serve:

  • Serve the curry garnished with sliced scallion along with steamed white rice.

Notes

  • Nutrition Information: The nutritional information for this recipe was calculated without the serving suggestions.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Substitute for Homemade Curry Roux: Instead of making Japanese curry roux from scratch, you can use store-bought curry cubes. S&B Golden Curry is a popular brand, and they make it in mild, medium, hot, and extra hot spice levels, which are all available for purchase on Amazon. You will need one 8.4 ounce/240 gram box to make this recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 455kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 97mg | Sodium: 1322mg | Potassium: 1315mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 8398IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Beef Curry Stew, Curry Roux, Japanese Beef Curry, Japanese Beef Curry Recipe, Japanese Curry Roux

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Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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