The Evolution and Spread of Japanese Curry Rice
My topic in the last post was when and how Japanese curry rice was invented. This time, I’d like to continue talking about the history of Japanese curry and elaborate how this western-inspired dish evolved and became so widespread in Japan.
As mentioned last time, curry was introduced to Japan after the country abandoned the policy of national isolation in the late 19th century. Japanese chefs modified the western dish according to Japanese palate and food culture, but the dish was still enjoyed mostly in restaurants at that time. It was not until early 20th century when the dish became enjoyed among regular households.
One incident that contributed to this spread is Japan-Russo War (1904-1905). Curry was a perfect dish for Japanese soldiers in the field because it could be made in a big pot, contained lots of different nutritious ingredients, and was energizing and tasty. Japanese soldiers brought those memories back home, and people started making their own curry. Another incident is the release of Japanese-style curry powder. In 1923, S&B Shokuhin Co., Ltd. created original blend of curry powder that met the expectations of the Japanese palate. Thanks to this, cooking curry at home became much easier.
By 1950, another epoch-defining product, curry roux (or curry sauce mix), became available. This allowed people to make Japanese curry sauce just by dissolving a solid block of roux in hot water. Then, another milestone came in 1963. House Foods Corp. brought less spicy and more sweet curry roux to the market. Made with apples and honey, House Vermont Curry attracted children, and naturally it was a huge hit. Even today, Japanese curry roux blocks are super popular.
Next time, I will dig deeper into the taste profile of Japanese curry dish. Until then, enjoy the warm weather and stay genki!
If you are interested in the curry restaurant business, please feel free to contact us. Go! Go! Curry! is happy to team up with you!
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.