Have you ever tried Japanese beef curry? It’s made with beef, potatoes, carrots, ginger, a unique curry powder, coconut milk, and a handful of other hearty ingredients. It’s a delicious meal that is reminiscent of beef stew — but better!
When you think of Japanese cuisine, I’ll bet the first thing that comes to mind is sushi. But, believe me, there is so much more to discover! I’ve shared a few of my personal favorites here on the blog: Hibachi fried rice, ahi tuna salad (it’s like a Japanese poke bowl!), Japanese jiggly cheesecake, and this ginger sauce (the kind you find at a Japanese steakhouse, yum).
Today’s recipe is for Japanese beef curry. The secret ingredient that makes this dish shine is S&B Curry Powder. You can find the bright red can with yellow writing in most markets or Asian stores. It’s filled with all of the traditional spices and herbs of Japanese curry. I’m talking about things like turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, cumin, red and black pepper, cinnamon, and more. It’s a lot sweeter than Indian curry powder or Madras curry powder, which are usually quite spicy.
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Beef – I use beef chuck for this coconut beef curry stew recipe. Make sure to cut up the pieces into 1-inch or thinner slices.
- Onion & Garlic – This is where much of the flavor of the dish gets started. You’ll sauté them together with fresh ginger.
- Ginger – Opt for fresh over powdered for your coconut beef curry stew! In a pinch, you can substitute ginger paste.
- S&B Curry Powder – I’ve already mentioned this curry powder — it truly makes this dish. It boasts warm and aromatic flavors and isn’t too spicy. You should be able to locate it at your local supermarket. Otherwise, check online.
- Coconut Milk – Yes I know, it’s NOT a traditional Japanese ingredient, but works well with the sweeter curry powder. You’ll need unsweetened varieties for this dish as the curry powder above is already slightly sweet. Go for full-fat, not light.
- Vegetable Oil – To brown the beef and sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger!
- Salt – Just a dash to season the beef before you brown it.
- Bay Leaves – To add even more aromatic goodness to the final results.
- Potatoes – I like to use white or Yukon Gold potatoes. You can go with your preference.
- Carrots – I just love the addition of vegetables in this coconut beef curry stew. They really round out the dish and make it even heartier.
- Chiles – Use either Fresno chiles or jalapeños as a garnish for a bit of added spice.
- Cilantro & Lime Wedges – Optional, but I love using them as a garnish as well!
HOW TO MAKE JAPANESE BEEF CURRY
- Brown The Beef. After you’ve cut the beef into 1-inch or smaller pieces, season it with kosher salt. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to a large and heavy pot and heat over medium-high. Place the beef in the oil in batches and cook until it is browned on all sides. It should take 8-10 minutes. Set aside on a plate when it’s done.
- Sauté The Onion, Garlic, & Ginger. Using the same pot, lower the heat to medium and add the rest of the vegetable oil. Place the onion, garlic, and ginger inside and allow to cook until the onion becomes translucent — it will take about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and stir, then allow the mixture to cook for 3 more minutes.
- Allow To Simmer. Place the beef back in the pot with the bay leaves, coconut milk, and a cup of water. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to low. Allow to simmer partially covered for 30-35. The beef should become fork tender.
- Add The Veggies. Add the potatoes and carrots to the pot and allow your coconut beef curry to cook uncovered for 25-35 minutes. Make sure to stir occasionally so that nothing sticks. You can play around with the consistency by adding water if you’d like. Season with salt if you need to, then serve over rice with cilantro, lime wedges, and slice chiles.
What Type Of Beef Is Used For Japanese Beef Curry?
Traditionally, chuck steak is used for Japanese beef curry. It’s also what I use for this recipe. It’s beef shoulder and it cuts up really nicely. When you cook it like a stew, it will become fork tender and will practically melt in your mouth! It’s also low in fat content if that’s a concern.
What Does Japanese Beef Curry Taste Like?
This recipe boasts a wonderfully sweet, savory, and almost umami flavor thanks to the added spices, seasonings, and aromatics. Remember: it’s also sweeter than its Indian counterparts. It’s mild and not spicy.
Why Is Japanese Curry So Different?
As I’ve mentioned a few times, Japanese beef curry stew is different when compared to Indian curry. The curry powder is sweeter, has less heat and is so aromatic and gets mixed with coconut milk! The texture is a bit thicker, and it’s not as spicy. Plus, Japanese curry uses beef or pork, while Indian curries tend to opt for chicken.
Coconut Beef Curry Recipe
- 1 1/2 lbs beef chuck (See Note 1)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil divided
- 1 yellow onion medium thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger peeled, finely chopped or paste
- 3 tbsp S&B Oriental curry powder preferable (See Note 2)
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 13.5 oz unsweetened coconut milk (not light, full fat)
- 2 lbs White or Yukon Gold potatoes cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 large carrots peeled and sliced
- Season beef all over with kosher salt. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches (you want the beef browned, not steamed), cook beef until browned on all sides, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
- Reduce heat to medium and add remaining tablespoon of oil, onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add curry powder and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes.
- Return beef to pot along with bay leaves, coconut milk, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low and simmer partially covered, until beef is just fork tender, 30–35 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and carrots and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until beef and vegetables are tender, 25–35 minutes. Thin with water if needed. Season with salt if needed. Serve over rice, topped with cilantro and sliced chiles. Squeeze a lime wedge on top to balance the umami flavors.
- Cut the beef cut into 1-inch pieces, or thinner slices.
- My go to curry powder for Japanese recipes is made by S&B from Japan and can be found in most markets in a red and yellow tin. Warm flavors, aromatic, and easy on the spicy heat.
- Adapted from Shuai Wang, Bon Appetit.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.