I love curries of all kind, but Japanese curry holds a special place in my heart. I especially love this Japanese Chicken Curry. While there’s no shame in using Japan’s famous packaged curry blocks, like in this Beef Curry, I realize not everyone has access read more
Soup Curry is a wonderful example of the magic that can happen when cuisines collide. Urban legend has it that an Indian restaurant in 1970’s Sapporo, Hokkaido Japan served both a popular chicken soup with Chinese spices as well as some traditional Indian curries. Someone had the brilliant idea to combine the two, and Soup Curry was born. Today there are over 200 Soup Curry shops in Sapporo. It is enjoyed year round and can be varied with seasonal ingredients, though it follows the same template of the curry broth, stewed meats and/or veggies, and steamed rice. I’m sharing my vegetarian version, which makes a light but satisfying meal. It’s also an excellent way to use up any veggies you have laying around…
The first time I had Soup Curry was over 10 years ago when we were traveling through Sapporo. As kids we never had much time to travel around Japan; we were too busy visiting family. But once my own children started spending summers in Japan, I was able to include my bucket list items to our visits. My sister was living in Tokyo at the time and agreed to go with us on our trip through Hokkaido. Unlike many other big cities in Japan, Sapporo has a very open spacious feel. Often, you have to walk single file in Tokyo because there’s physically no space otherwise. But Sapporo is different and the food there so special. From amazing seafood, to famous musk melons, sizzling”Ghengis Khan” Lamb BBQs, savory miso ramens, and of course their soup curries, it’s a foodie paradise. This vegetarian Soup Curry brings back all of those amazing memories for me…I hope you enjoy it just as much.
Curry is a very popular dish in Japan, though it is not like the tongue tingling Thai or Indian curries that might first come to mind. Japanese curry is more of a thick, gently spiced gravy. Packages of curry roux cubes are sold in a wide variety of flavors-some overtly sweet and some with more robust heat. I like a brand named House and their Java flavor, but feel free to experiment with others. I have seen curry roux packages at grocery stores with well stocked international aisles, and of course they are widely available at Asian markets. Grab a couple boxes and try my Beef Curry recipe too.
Start with the Soup Curry
I make a base with some aromatic vegetables to add some punch to the soup. The zucchini gives a little more body and thickness without affecting the flavor and not having to rely solely on the roux blocks. As with any good soup, we start by sweating the aromatics in some fat first to give you that well rounded flavor.
Soup Curry Vegetables
You could use any of your favorite vegetables here. I’m using a mix that’s ready available now, but heartier winter veggies would be equally wonderful here too. This recipe is a little unusual in that the vegetables don’t get cooked in the curry. The potato and carrot are boiled until tender, and then roasted with the rest of the veggies. Unlike most curries, soup curries are colorful and composed to be visually stunning, so a lot of care is taken to preserve the integrity of the ingredients. I make an extra effort when prepping the vegetables to cut them into attractive and uniform pieces, both so the final dish is appealing and so they cook uniformly.
Roast the vegetables until cooked through. If you really want them to get deeply browned, you can broil them for a couple of minutes.
I love how the addition of steamed rice makes this a complete meal. I hope you enjoy it’s soothing creaminess as much as I do. Try it and let me know! Rate and comment on the recipe below, and tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you.
- 2 Tablespoons neutral oil
- ½ large onion diced
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 2 Tablespoons peeled minced ginger
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 medium zucchini
- ½ box curry roux blocks (about 3¼ oz)
- 2 medium zucchini
- 2 small Chinese eggplant
- 1 large red bell pepper
- ¼ head cauliflower
- 2 small carrots
- 1 medium russet (Idaho) potato
- ¼ teaspoon salt and ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion
- ⅓ cup neutral oil
Make the soup curry:
- Trim and dice the zucchini into ½ inch pieces and set aside.
- Heat a heavy pot or dutch oven over medium high heat for several minutes. Add the oil and the onions. Mix to combine and cook, stirring for a couple of minutes. Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes until the onion has softened and is just starting to brown.
- Add the garlic, ginger, and bay leaves. Stir and cook for a minute. Add the zucchini, salt, sugar, ground pepper, and the vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Cover with a lid and lower heat to medium. Simmer for 15 minutes until the vegetables are very soft. Turn the heat off and take out the bay leaves.
- Using an immersion blender, blend the soup carefully until smooth.
- Add the curry blocks, breaking them into smaller squares in your hand. Turn the heat to medium, stir regularly, and let the roux melt into the soup. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until the soup has thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Set aside until ready to serve.
Roast the vegetables:
- Heat the oven to 440 degrees and move the oven rack to the middle.
- Trim and cut the zucchini into 3 pieces lengthwise. Cut each zucchini log in half and set on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Trim the stem of the eggplants and cut a 1 ½ inch piece on an angle. Turn the eggplant a little and cut again. Repeat the rolling and cutting until you have cut all of the eggplant. Set it next to the zucchini on the baking sheet.
- Cut the red pepper in half and take out the seeds and stem. Cut the pepper into large 1 ½ inch pieces. Set it on the baking sheet.
- Break/cut the cauliflower into bite sized florets and also set it on the baking sheet.
- Peel and trim the carrots. Cut the carrots on an angle into 1 ½ inch pieces. Put the carrots into a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil on high heat. Lower heat to medium high and simmer for 10 minutes until tender. Drain the water completely and add the carrots to the tray of veggies.
- Peel the potato and cut it in half lengthwise and then into large 2 inch pieces. Put the potato into a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil on high heat. Lower heat to medium (you do not want to break up the potato by having it bounce around inside the pot) and simmer for 15-17 minutes until you can easily pierce it with a knife. Drain the water completely and add it to the tray of veggies.
- Season the vegetables with salt and ground pepper, granulated garlic, and granulated onion. (If it’s easier, you can combine the seasonings in a small bowl. Mix it up and then sprinkle evenly on the vegetables.)
- Drizzle the vegetables with oil and toss the veggies to evenly coat.
- Roast the vegetables for about 20 minutes until they are nicely browned and cooked through. If you would like a little more color on the veggies you can broil them for a couple of minutes after roasting.
- Bring the soup back to a simmer over medium high heat and then ladle it into shallow bowls. Arrange the vegetables on top of the soup and serve with steamed rice on the side.
*If you do not have an immersion blender, carefully transfer the soup ingredients to a standard blender. Only fill the blender cup 1/3 to 1/2. Be sure to take off the cover for the pour spout. Then take a kitchen towel and cover the opening. Carefully pulse the blender a couple of times to get it going, or start on low, and then blend until smooth.
To store leftovers, keep the soup separate from the soup. When you want to serve, heat the soup up and warm the veggies in the microwave for a couple minutes or in the oven at 375 for 7-10 minutes.
Keywords: soup curry, japanese, veggies, curry roux, vegetarian
In these days where we are all amateur food photographers and critics, it’s easy to overlook less photogenic dishes. But sometimes the humblest looking food is the most delicious. That’s why I love David Chang’s show, Ugly Delicious, and I think this Curried Eggplant and read more
Whenever I meet someone and they ask, “You know what I just love from your restaurant?”, nine times out of ten, I know they are going to say, Red Curry Beef. I’m not surprised. The combination of meat and vegetables, coated with the creamy velvety sauce is outstanding. The first bite will have you addicted to the spicy, coconuty flavor crammed with herbs and spices. And you just have to have more… and more!
It has long been one of the most popular items on our menu, and now I’m going to show you how to recreate it at home. This is an authentic Thai curry, rich with coconut milk and with significant heat from the curry paste. Packed with meat and veggies, and served over rice, it’s a complete meal.
Homemade Curry Paste
I’m including my recipe for homemade red curry paste, and if you’ve never made curry paste before you will be blown away by the complex and amazing flavor. And pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to make. It relies on South Asian standards like lemongrass, chilis, galangal, and Kaffir lime leaves. It gets its heat from small dried chilis de arbol, which get soaked with dried shrimp in hot water to soften. Use less of the chilis if you want a more mild curry. Taste it once it’s blended; you can always add more. (If you want to use a commercial curry paste to make this recipe even faster, I like the ones from Maesri. They have the most authentic flavor and really, if you’re craving a quick dinner, this is it.)
If you’re thinking, this is quite a list of ingredients, I agree. But I will say that it’s kind of necessary. Each ingredient gives a little something that brings the most intense and heady flavor to the final dish. If you love Thai carryout, then this will send you to the moon, because the flavors of a Thai Red Curry Beef are so much more vibrant when made from scratch.
Thankfully, the curry paste can be made ahead of time, and kept in the fridge for up to two weeks. Alternately, you can freeze it in an ice cube tray, and then store in a ziplock bag in the freezer. That way you will always have incredible Thai red curry flavor ready to go. Try it in my Sweet Potato Curry Soup!
Making the Thai Red Curry Beef
Once the paste is ready, the Thai red curry beef is a snap to make. First stir the paste into the coconut milk to make the sauce. If you are concerned about the heat level, add less and taste first. We like it spicy so we use the whole 5 tablespoons. But, it should be a little more spicy than you think you’d like because it does get diluted in the sauce.
Nevertheless, it will still be delicious tamed down to your spice preference, if you decide to use less of the paste. Now its time to prep all the meat and veggies. This is a quick braise, so everything should be ready to get tossed into the pan to sear and then simmered slowly to blend the flavors.
As for the beef, at the restaurant we use skirt steak almost exclusively in all of our beef dishes. It has a robust flavor and I love the texture. With a large Latin customer base in Miami, we find it a good fit for our food. However, it can be difficult to find in the supermarkets, so in this recipe, we are using sirloin. You can also use whatever looks good at the market or what you prefer.
Stir Fry Time!
Now that all the ingredients are prepped, it’s time to turn them into this delectable Thai Red Curry Beef! Start by searing the beef on each side, just to give it a nice color, as it will finish cooking in the curry sauce. Then put the meat in a bowl (you don’t want to lose any of those yummy juices) and start sautéing the veggies. Next add the sauce and simmer until the eggplant is soft. Finish by adding the beef back to the pot, letting it cook through in the sauce, and then wilting the spinach at the last minute.
These vegetables used in the recipe are my personal favorite. I love the color and textural combination. But you are more than welcome to get creative with your choices. Some suggestions include zucchini, cauliflower, bok choy, snow peas, or potatoes both savory and sweet. If you’re a vegetarian, you can switch the beef to tofu or a meat alternative or just double up on the veggies.
By this point your kitchen is going to be smelling incredible, and it’s time to eat! Serve it with some perfectly cooked rice. Thai Red Curry Beef is a traditional favorite, and I know you’re going to love it too. Leave a comment and rate the recipe down below, and don’t forget to tag us @funkyasiankitchen in your colorful bowls of curry insta pics.
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1– 13.5 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
- 5 tablespoons homemade or canned red curry paste (use less if you like less spice)
For the Beef:
- 3 tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 pound sirloin trimmed, and cut into bite sized pieces (you can also use skirt steak or rib eye)
- 1 onion, cut in half lengthwise and cut into ¼ inch slices
- 6 oz wild mushrooms (shiitake, cremini, or any combination)
- 3 oz baby spinach
- 1 Chinese eggplant
- 1 red pepper
- 6 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 small handful Thai basil leaves (you can substitute Italian basil)
Red Curry Paste:
- 20 pieces dried red de arbol chiles
- 1 tablespoon grated or minced very fine galangal
- 8 garlic cloves roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds or ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons cilantro stems chopped
- 1 tablespoon dried shrimp (you can substitute 1 tablespoon miso for vegetarians or leave it out)
- 1 stalk of lemongrass outer hard leaves removed, the bottom trimmed and the top half discarded, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2 shallots minced
- 2 kaffir lime leaves
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ¼ cup oil
Make the Red Curry Paste:
- Cover dried chilis and the dried shrimp with 2 cups of hot water and let sit for 1 hour. Drain and reserve ¼ cup of the soaking liquid.
- If using whole coriander seeds, toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat for a couple of minutes, moving the pan around to avoid burning the seeds. Add the cumin powder in the last couple of seconds to bring out the oils and flavor in the spices.
- Remove the center rib from the back of the kaffir lime leaves and set aside.
- Put the chilis and dried shrimp with ¼ cup soaking water, galangal, garlic, coriander seeds, lemongrass, cilantro stems, shallot, ground cumin, kaffir lime leaves, and ground white pepper into a blender.
- Turn the blender on low and then slowly add the oil through the center opening.
- Turn the blender on high and blend for 1 minute until smooth.
- Keeps 2 weeks in the fridge or frozen.
Make the Sauce:
- In a medium bowl mix the fish sauce, the red curry paste (reserve leftovers for another recipe or add more if you like your food spicier), light brown sugar, and coconut milk. Set aside.
Prep the Veggies:
- Shave off the hard stem on the back of the kaffir lime leaves. Stack and roll the leaves tightly like a cigar. Then very finely slice the leaves and set them aside.
- Cut the eggplant into thick rounds about 1 inch thick. Set aside.
- Cut the pepper in half. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Then cut the pepper into a large dice. Set aside.
- Wipe off the mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Remove and discard the woody stem if using shiitakes. Cut the mushrooms in half or into thick slices if they are very large
Cook the Curry:
- Heat a large pan over high heat. Add 1 ½ tablespoons oil and the beef, spreading it out on the pan in one layer.
- Sear the beef on one side, 30 seconds to 1 minute and then flip the meat and stir- fry for a couple more seconds. Set the meat aside in a bowl (the meat will finish cooking in the sauce).
- Add the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons of oil plus the onions to the pan and continue to cook for 2-3 mins. until the onions have started to soften. Add the mushrooms, peppers, and eggplant. Stir to combine and continue cooking for a minute.
- Add the sauce, and the kaffir lime leaves to the pan and bring the sauce to a simmer over medium high heat. Lower the heat to medium, partially cover with a lid, and cook for 6-7 mins. until the sauce has reduced slightly and the eggplant is tender. Add the meat and the spinach and stir the mixture. Cook for one more minute to wilt the spinach and finish cooking the meat. Serve immediately.
*This dish has a good amount of heat which is offset by the sweetness of the sugar and richness of the coconut milk. You can adjust the heat by adding less of the red curry paste.
*If you are making the curry paste from scratch, take a small taste of the soaked chilies to get a sense of how hot they are before adding them to the paste. You can put in less if you find the heat overwhelming. Keep in mind that the flavor will be diluted in the paste and then again in the sauce.
*It is traditional to use cilantro roots in the curry paste but they can be extremely difficult to find in the US. However, if you can find cilantro with the roots, definitely use them instead. Make sure you wash the roots well to remove any clinging soil. Use 1 tablespoon of minced roots instead of the cilantro stems.
*You will only be using about ⅓ of the curry paste in the sauce. It is very difficult to make curry paste in a small amount when using the blender or food processor. Any extra paste can be frozen until you are ready to make more curry. It can also be used in marinades or as a flavoring in soups or stews.