For Ringo in Mawaru Penguindrum, the 20th of every month is Curry Day – a day that she spends time with her family as they all bond over a delicious curry dinner…. Or, at least that’s how it’s supposed to go!
Since tomorrow is March 20th, I thought I would post this recipe so that you can have enough time to gather your ingredients and partake in the wonders of Curry Day!
In episode 3, Ringo whips up a pot of curry to feed to Tabuki, as per the description in her “fate diary”. But, things don’t go quite as planned (though the “fate” written in the diary is fulfilled… well, basically), and after a run-in with an invisible penguin, a frantic cat, and a fish, Ringo ends up befriending Himari and eating dinner at the Takakura household.
As the first real introduction to Ringo, this episode was so refreshing after the previous episode where she’s made out to be Tabuki’s extreme and crazy stalker. But, here, we get to see some of Ringo’s past, her motivations, and how her parent’s divorce (among other things….) has apparently affected her quite deeply. With her mother so busy working that she tells Ringo to spend Curry Day alone – the day that Ringo associates with family, love, and happiness – and her plan to be with Tabuki foiled by the presence of his girlfriend, you have to sympathize with the girl…
But, while Ringo fails to find family, love, and happiness in the people around her, she ends up finding a taste of it with Himari, Kanba, and Shouma, as for the first time in a long time Ringo eats her Curry Day dinner with friends.
So, let’s make Curry Day a reality, and learn why Ringo believes that “curry eaten with the people you love tastes like happiness”….
About the recipe:
Japanese curry (also called “curry rice”, pronounced “kare raisu” カレーライス) is one of those recipes where you can add just about everything under the kitchen sink into the pot and it will still manage to taste amazing.
Sweeter than a typical Indian-style curry, Japanese curry was introduced to Japan by the British during the Meiji Era (1868–1912), when India was still under their administration. Since then, curry has become a very popular dish in Japan, served in restaurants and made in many household kitchens.
This recipe makes a pretty large amount of curry… I have yet to make a small pot of curry, as every time I make this meal, it feels like the pot just absorbs whatever I put into it! In reality, I think I just need to learn some self-control… I mean, the pot doesn’t always have to be completely full of food. But, curry is just so delicious!
So, if you’re having trouble eating all those curry leftovers, here are some additional meal suggestions for you:
- Curry udon – make a thick broth out of the curry by adding a bit of water. Just add cooked udon and enjoy!
- Katsu-kare – Tonkatsu eaten with curry and rice… it’s crunchy and soft all at the same time!
- Hamburger steak and curry
- Curry-pan – Bread baked with a curry filling
About the ingredients:
Curry cubes (instant curry roux) is widely available in most Asian grocery stores, and some Western grocery stores as well. It comes in either a powder or in solid cube form, and is made in various degrees of spiciness, from mild to hot. I usually use curry cubes (that’s what’s most available where I am), so that is what the recipe below will reflect.
Curry cubes comes in a rectangular box with 2 individually sealed bricks of curry, with each brick breaking into 4 cubes. Typically, I use about half a box, but it really depends on how much liquid, vegetables, and meat are in your pot, how thick you like the sauce, and how much curry flavour you want. The key is simply to taste your curry sauce as you add the curry cubes.
Meat: If you would like to include meat in your curry, you can add either chicken, pork, or beef – it’s your choice! Whatever you decide, make sure to get lean meats or trim the fat from the meat before adding it to the pot.
In Mawaru Penguindrum, Ringo marinades the meat with a grated apple to make it more tender. Feel free to do this, but it’s not a step I usually do since the meat becomes quite soft just from simmering in the pot. I do, however, like to add a cored, peeled, and cubed apple to the pot because it makes the curry a bit sweeter and I like the flavour of the apple.
For chicken, I usually use chicken thighs cut into bite-size pieces.
For pork, I like to buy center cut pork chops, and cut the meat from the bone, trim the pork, and cut it into bite-size pieces. I then add the bone directly to the pot as well, so that it can flavour the curry sauce. I like to chomp on the bones too because there’s often lots of meat left on it!
For beef, use a lean ground beef, so that there is less fat in your curry sauce. Make sure to break the meat into smaller pieces using a wooden spoon or spatula before adding in the vegetables because it will be very difficult to do so without hitting into the vegetables!
Vegetables: Japanese curry can be made completely vegetarian if you wish. Simply add you favorite vegetables to the pot and cook! I personally always add onions, carrots, potatoes (these first three are the basic vegetables found in pretty much all Japanese curry), and green peas. If my local grocery store has some nice green beans in stock, I like to add them as well.
Feel free to experiment, as well! I’ve added in a stray parsnip before, and things like celery, mushrooms, squash, and other root vegetables (such as celery root, rutabaga, turnip) are all fair game.
For the recipe below, I list some of the vegetables that I have used in the past in my own curry in the ingredients list. In the directions, I note at what point to add all of the different vegetables, even if not all of them are used. The amounts I list are also flexible, so if you love potatoes, and don’t like to eat many carrots, by all means adjust the amounts as necessary.
When selecting your vegetables, remember to keep a balance between all of the amounts, so that one particular vegetable does not dominate over all the rest. I think using about 4-5 different vegetables, if you make meat curry, makes the best ratio. If you make vegetarian curry, 5-6 vegetables would be more suitable.
Japanese Curry (“kare raisu” カレーライス)
Makes 6 servings
- 1 – 1.5 lb of meat (see ingredient notes); Choose one of the following options:
- Boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut into bite-size pieces
- Pork chops (about 3), meat removed from the bone, trimmed of fat and cut into bite-size pieces
- Lean ground beef
- 7-8 cups of cut vegetables (see ingredient notes); Choose 4-6 of the items below
- 1 Onion, cut into large pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 cups carrot (4-6 carrots), cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 Apple, cored, peeled, and cubed
- 1 large eggplant, cut into 2 inch pieces (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 2 cups yam or sweet potato cut into 2 inch pieces
- 2 cups potatoes cut into 2 inch pieces
- 1 1/2 cups green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
- Half a cauliflower, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 1 1/2 cups frozen green peas
- 4-5 curry cubes (about half a box)
- 4-6 cups water or broth
1. In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp of oil on medium-high heat until shimmering. Add meat and cook until no red or raw meat shows. Add onion, carrots, eggplant, and apple, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions begin to turn translucent and the vegetables begin to sweat, about 5-8 minutes.
2. Add enough water to cover the contents of the pot, and stir in potatoes, yams/sweet potatoes. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and partially cover the pot with a lid. Simmer until the potatoes or yams/sweet potatoes are mostly cooked, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally, but not vigorously, in order to prevent the potatoes from breaking up into small pieces.
Foam from the starch in the potatoes may form on the surface of the liquid during this process. Skim the foam off with a spoon, and discard. Also skim any large amounts of oil or fat that has gathered on the surface of the liquid.
3. When the potatoes are mostly cooked, add the green beans and cauliflower, stirring gently to incorporate them into the mixture. When the beans and cauliflower are cooked through, about 15 minutes, add the curry cubes and dissolve them into the simmering liquid. The sauce should be flavourful and should be thick enough to coat the vegetables.
Adding the curry cubes is best done by using a ladle to scoop up some of the hot liquid, and using a spoon to dissolve the curry cube in the ladle. Distribute the curry sauce in the ladle around the pot as you dissolve the cube, replacing the ladle with more liquid from the pot as needed. Give the pot a stir every so often to thoroughly mix in the curry sauce.
By using this method, the contents of the pot are not disturbed (leading to fewer broken vegetables), and the curry cube is not lost amidst the many vegetables, which allows the curry to be more accurately adjusted.
4. Gently stir in green peas, and bring the curry to a low boil, turning off the heat after it reaches temperature.