Thursday, February 13, 2014

Curry

I had the honor of meeting and cooking with my husband, Jay's grandma a few summers ago. I was impressed by her cooking as well as her English--she is from Japan, with Samurai heritage.
The curry we made was so good, even the 4- and 2-year-old kids were begging for it. Somehow being made into such a thick dish made even the picky kids not realize how many veggies were in it. They just knew it all tasted good and came with rice.

Today I made a version of curry which was similar to the one we enjoyed together.
ground turkey, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, red pepper

Curry is a very strongly seasoned thick, stew-like dish. It's traditionally served over rice or noodles.

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First, a word about curry mix. 

Curry means a mixture of spices usually including turmeric. I always use a block of curry mix from the store, rather than starting with curry powder. I wondered if Jay's grandma would make a mix from curry powder, but she didn't. 

box curry sauce
Today's mix. I used half this box.
Picture from here.
I use this mix most often, using the entire box.

In Japan there are very famous curry mixes that you buy. The companies, some of which have sold curry mix for decades, are very secretive about their specific curry. The traditional Japanese way to make curry, then, is actually to buy a mix.
The mixes come in mild, medium, and hot. I usually use medium and let my spicy-food-loving-husband add hot sauce to his bowl.
I have used a few different mixes, and like them all because I'm crazy about all curry.

Ingredients

1 large onion, diced (at least 1 cup)--the most important ingredient for traditional taste
1 pound ground turkey
1 small/medium potato, diced small
2 1/2 cups mixed chopped veggies (example below)
     --3 mushrooms, thinly sliced
     --1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
     --2 cups frozen mix of cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots
2-4 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
One 3.5 ounce package of curry mix--not curry powder
5 cups hot rice to serve with

Many different veggies will work, though I wouldn't use tomatoes or squash. try celery, pea pods, green beans, water chestnuts, mini corns, mushrooms, bell peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots. And always use onions! 
What do you use in curry?

1. Put diced potato, a pinch of salt and 2 1/2 cups water in a covered large saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally and when it starts boiling, turn down to low to simmer.

Kami, a friend, once chopped up the potatoes really small when we made curry together.
We all agreed that was the best way to eat potatoes in curry!
2. Meanwhile, if you're using mushrooms, slice them thinly and then saute them over medium low heat in oil or butter. You want to cook them for at least 15 minutes uncovered until they are brown. This will keep them from being rubbery in your curry.
When done, add to saucepan with potatoes.
Yes, everything is going to end up in that saucepan.


 3. Saute half your onions in oil for 5-7 minutes until they are beginning to look clear, then add half the ground turkey. Lightly salt the turkey and cook it until thoroughly browned. Drain off any fat. Add to a medium/large saucepan. Repeat with the other half of onions and ground turkey.

By doing half at a time you won't overcrowd your pan. Overcrowding can result in steaming the meat rather than stir frying it.
I have a wok and a big fry pan, so I used them both.

4. Stir fry each kind of vegetable, 1/2 cup at a time, in oil until each vegetable is nicely browned. If using frozen vegetables, microwave them first to thaw. Whenever something is done stir frying, drop it in the sauce pan.

veggies are browned

5. Check the water level. It should be about as pictured--Not completely covering the vegetables, as they will cook down, but lapping at the top veggies. If needed, add up to 1/2 cup more water. You may also add more veggies if needed. 

6. Turn the heat back to medium, stirring occasionally. When it begins boiling, break the sauce mix into cubes (they're shaped to make this easy) and stir until dissolved. Then cover and turn the stove to low to simmer.

This is where you want your liquid level--the tops of things sticking out.
7. Simmer covered 15-30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes--be sure to scrape the bottom and adjust temperature if things are burning to the bottom.

Or you may put it, already boiling, in a slow cooker on low for up to 3 hours before serving. 

The finished product!
The veggies are cooked down and I can almost taste the sauce.


8. Make sure the potatoes are tender before serving. Serve over hot rice. Serves 6-8.

Don't cover all the rice with curry. If your curry is too spicy or strong, this will give you access to more rice to mix it with.

Yum
 Japanese




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