Demystifying the Taste Profile of Japanese Curry Rice
I’d like to continue talking about what Japanese curry rice is, and my focus today is to demystify its taste profile!
First of all, the most distinct features of Japanese curry rice are its umami-rich taste, thick texture, and sticky rice. In particular, umami is important, and it is this savory taste that differentiates Japanese curry from curries in other countries. As you may know, dashi (broth or soup stock in English) is essential to Japanese cuisine. We traditionally extract savoriness from things like bonito, sardine, kelp, and mushrooms to make dashi, and use it in many dishes. This dashi culture contributes to the umami of Japanese curry rice.
Umami can be found in many ingredients—pork, chicken, beef, seafood and vegetables, and these complex blends of different umami are the base of Japanese curry. Fermented foods also have umami. Japanese staple seasonings like miso, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sake are great examples. Pickles and natto (sticky fermented soybeans), which are some of Go! Go! Curry!’s most popular toppings, are fermented dishes, too!
Around 1950, solid-type, ready-to-use Japanese curry roux or Japanese curry sauce mix was brought to the market. Since the product was very easy to use and full of umami, it spread throughout the country. Accordingly, each family started making its own version of curry with the help of store-bought curry roux. Tomato, mango, chocolate, and soy sauce—you can mix in any secret ingredients to create your own flavor! These can also makes the taste profile of Japanese rice curry more diverse and complex.
There’s no room to talk about the thick texture and sticky rice of Japanese curry now, so I’ll hold onto the topic for next time. Until then, enjoy the long daylight and stay genki!
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About The Author:
Tomoko Omori was born and raised in Japan. She came to the USA alone to become an actress, where she received an AA degree from college majoring in Drama. She received a scholarship to study music at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC.
After working for TV broadcasting and a publishing company, today, Tomoko is the CEO of Go! Go! Curry! America, a grab-and-go Japanese comfort food restaurant franchise. There are over 75 locations in Japan, and 11 in the USA. She says, “Our mission is to serve our tasty curry nationwide in the USA and Canada to enrich the lives of our customers, employees, franchise owners and the communities we serve. Our vision is to create millions of satisfied customers, contented tummies and miles and miles of smiles for everyone!” Tomoko received the Nikkei BP Woman of the year award in 2015.