Slow Cooker Japanese Beef & Sweet Potato Curry Rice

1 1/4 lb cubed stew beef
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 large Russet potato, cubed
3 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 large Murasaki sweet potato, cubed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons Japanese curry powder (like S & B Oriental Curry Powder)

hot, cooked Japanese rice (often labeled sushi rice) to serve

In a small pan, saute the onions until browned, about 10 minutes.

Place all ingredients in a 4-quart slow cooker. Stir. Cook on low 6-8 hours or until the meat is tender. Stir. Serve with rice.

Stovetop Variation:
Don’t want to slow cook? Saute the onion and beef in a Dutch oven until browned. Add the remaining ingredients and 3/4 cup beef broth or stock. Simmer until the meat, potatoes, and carrots are tender, about 1 1/2-2 hrs. Serve with hot rice.

My thoughts:

Kareh Raisu (curry rice) is one of my favorite Japanese dishes. It is filling and hearty and luckily pretty easy to make at home! Instant curry packets are readily available (even at stores like Safeway) even here in Baltimore where Japanese ingredients can be tricky to find but I find that like with most things, making it from scratch is so much tastier! The trick is to use the right curry powder. Luckily, S & B Oriental Curry Powder is available at nearly any Asian grocery store; I’ve seen it at Japanese, Korean, Thai, Indian and Filipino markets.

A lot of recipes have you using tapioca or rice flour slurries to thicken the dish but as you can see, it is quite thick straight from the pot! In fact, if you like a soupier curry rice you might want to thin it out with some beef broth. My secret? The Muraski sweet potato. It literally melts into the dish. The cubes disappear and the mixture is magically thickened. It also adds the sweetness that Japanese curry needs without adding sugar or apples like some recipes call for and you get all of the health benefits of the sweet potato.  It is a little non-traditional, normally beef curry rice does not have sweet potato but I love the flavor and thickening it provides.

Want to learn more about curry rice? Check out this article I found that outlines the history of the dish. Also, today, January 22nd, is Curry Rice Day in Japan! It celebrates the anniversary of school lunches in Japan and if it is a school day, they mark it by serving curry rice.

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