Monday, 6 August 2007

Won't Curry Any Favours From Me

Posted by Andrew

This Saturday I decided to break open one of my Japanese curry packages to make myself some chicken curry. I really like curry, but Japanese curry in particular is what I haven't had for some time and therefore missed dearly. I still remember the first time I had Japanese curry; it was actually a quick dinner with my family in one of the Japanese style fast-food restaurants found in major train stations (in this case, Shinjuku in western Tokyo). Ever since then I was hooked to Japanese curry.

That type of restaurant was ingenious; the visual menu's outside the restaurant, where you make your selection and payment at a ticket machine, and then you go in and present your ticket to get your order while you wait for a couple of minutes for your food. True to Japanese ingenuity, their curry packages are also quite convenient. Rather than coming in powdered form or jarred pastes, Japanese curry is packed in vacuum-sealed "cubes" which melt in boiled water and makes it easy for measurement purposes and portioning, not to mention storage before use.

Curry originated in India with many local variations. However, sizeable Indian populations migrated to, traded with and influenced SE Asia, especially Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. I've had Chinese style curry, as well as Thai and Malaysian. but I'm at a deadlock in deciding whether I like Thai or Japanese curry more. Thai usually comes in two basic forms, red or green (depending on the colour of the chillis used). Thai is especially more to my liking in terms of aromatic fragrance with the common use of coconut milk/cream and lemongrass.

Japanese curry, on the other hand, stands out on its own in terms of flavouring. It's generally milder than most other forms of curry around the world, and it is also subtly sweeter. The sweetness is hard to describe, other than that it's not the type of sweetness you'd associate with fruits, sugar or even honey. I highly suspect that several curry fish ball vendors use the Japanese style of curry sauce.

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