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Japanese Curry:
This is one of my absolute favorite Japanese foods; in fact, we eat it almost once per week in our household. The tricky part is seasoning this curry—before I serve it, I add soy sauce and miso to finish. I also like to serve this with pickled ginger. This makes a decent amount, and it freezes very well.

Pro tip: Make one day ahead so flavors can marry, like chili.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

2 tablespoons Wadaman Dark Roasted Golden Sesame Oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 cups yellow onion, roughly cut into 1- inch chunks
Sea salt
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons finely diced ginger
1 apple, peeled, cored, diced small
1 cup carrots, peeled, oblique cut in bite-sized pieces
1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into bite-sized pieces
¼ cup sake
3 to 4 cups chicken stock
3 to 4 cups Dashi 
2 tablespoons Suehiro Usukuchi Soy Sauce
¼ to ⅓ of the Curry Brick (see recipe below)
Yamaki Jozo Organic Soy Sauce - to taste
Horikawaya Nomura Shiro (White) Miso - to taste
Pickled Young Ginger, for serving (optional)

Add the sesame oil to a large saucepan, and bring to the smoking point over high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Reduce the heat to medium high, then add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt, cook for one minute, and add your garlic and ginger. Cook until very fragrant, about a minute, then add the apple and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the carrots and potatoes, cooking until the carrots are warmed through.

Now add the sake, and cook until it has evaporated. Add 3 cups of the chicken stock, 3 cups of the dashi and the usukuchi soy sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add ¼ of the curry brick chunk by chunk and stir until it dissolves. Continue simmering for 20 to 30 minutes, until the curry has reduced by about ⅓ and pours thickly off a spoon (it should pour, not glop). Taste. Adjust the consistency and spice level by adding more curry brick if desired, or thin the curry with more dashi or stock.

To finish, return the curry to a boil, and add soy sauce and miso to taste—both help with seasoning but lend different characteristics to the dish. Soy sauce adds a nice dark, salty element, whereas the miso adds a sweet salty aspect. Start by adding a little of both, then experiment to find the balance you desire.

Serve with a side of pickled ginger.

Japanese Curry Brick:
Adapted from: Sonoko Sakai's recipe in her book, "Japanese Home Cooking"

We eat Japanese curry once a week in my house. It is so soul satisfying and reminds me of many nights eating curry in subterranean shopping malls in Japan. But I never felt my recipe was complete until I was introduced to the Curry Brick recipe in Sonoko Sakai's cookbook, "Japanese Home Cooking", which I adapted to suit my palate. This is the key ingredient in making your curry, because it's where so much of the flavor comes from! This recipe for the curry roux is very similar to the bricks you buy in markets, EXCEPT this is all natural and made by you! If you are feeling overwhelmed, you can also order an excellent curry brick directly from Sonoko's website,

Yield: Enough to flavor 25-30 Japanese Curry servings

1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick, pounded into small pieces
1 dried bay leaf
1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
½ teaspoon whole cloves
2 whole cardamom pods
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 (1-inch strip) Aimono Rausu Konbu, cut into bite-size pieces
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated or minced
1 tablespoon Takehisa Dried Shiitake Mushroom Powder
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon sea salt
1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1½ cups unsalted butter
2¼ cups all-purpose flour

In a large skillet, toast the cinnamon, bay leaf, mustard, all of the whole spices (seeds), cloves, cardamom pods and black peppercorns over medium heat, stirring until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn the spices. Transfer the toasted ingredients to a spice grinder, along with the konbu.

Grind at the highest speed for 30 seconds. Shake the grinder a couple of times as you blend to make sure the cinnamon stick and konbu are pulverized. (You can grind the spices in batches, if necessary.)

Transfer the pulverized mix to a small bowl. Add the orange zest, shiitake powder, turmeric, ginger, salt, cayenne and paprika. Reserve.

To make the roux, melt the butter in the skillet over medium high heat. When the butter is nearly melted, reduce the heat to medium-low. Gradually whisk in the flour, eliminating all lumps. Stir constantly until the roux turns medium brown, 15 to 30 minutes. Be careful not to burn it. (A darker roux will mean deeper flavor, but cooking the flour for a long time also lowers its ability to thicken your curry; experiment to find the balance you like!). Turn off the heat, add the spice mix and stir until fully combined. Transfer to a loaf pan to cool, then refrigerate until firm.

To store: Once firm, unmold and wrap tightly in plastic wrap or parchment. Store airtight in the refrigerator for a month or in the freezer for 3 months.

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