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Stay-at home TGIF menu: Karei Raisu, Japanese-style curry

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I told my kids that I’ll be cooking beef short ribs with Japanese-style curry this Friday. They asked, "Why curry? Why Friday?" My kids were not a big fan of curry and we usually go out to eat on Friday nights. We've never had much time to cook at home. I said, "Trust me! It’s going to be delicious!" It’s not like a typical wet curry, but a dry thick curry sauce like gravy. It's mild and sweet and we eat it over Japanese rice. More importantly, I’ll be using our famous Japanese Curry Mix. It contains 20 different spices and took nine years to research. It will be a special dinner. Now with the shelter-in-place restrictions going on, I try to cook restaurant-quality foods at home on weekends.

A bit of history on the Japanese Curry:

The Japanese Imperial Navy adopted British curry in the late nineteenth century to combat beriberi, a disease caused by vitamin B-1 deficiency. At the time, the Navy offered unlimited white polished rice, a luxury that only the rich and aristocracy could afford, as a means of recruiting. They ended up eating too much rice and they developed first beriberi symptoms: loss of strength in the legs, looseness in the knees, cramps in the calves, swelling and numbness. Beriberi became endemic in the Japanese Imperial Navy and crippled a third of the sailors.

The Japanese Navy looked at their British counterpart's diet where beriberi was almost non-existent. The British were eating beef curry mixed with root vegetables with bread. They adopted the British curry recipe, using beef trimmings, dry curry powder and wheat flour as a thickener and beef for the protein. They ate it with rice instead of bread. To implement this new Westernized diet, they served the curry on Fridays. It also gave the Navy a sense of time while they were out on the water for so long. Beriberi was eventually eradicated from the Japanese Navy a few years later. The Navy kept the curry tradition until the present day. They brought home the recipes; people in their hometown loved their curry. It eventually became a national dish, just like ramen and sushi.

The Verdict:

The day had come. It’s Friday! I had my ingredients ready on the counter: short ribs, onion, carrots, our Japanese Curry Mix, wheat flour, salt and honey. Only seven ingredients. That’s it! I’d like to keep my curry cooking basic and simple. I let the ingredients shine and my curry powder did all the magic. Cooking short ribs took time. Hey, now that we're all staying home, we have plenty of time! It took me five hours to get the meat off the bones.

The curry was finally ready. I called my kids to set up the table. I served them the curry over rice. They had a few bites and there was a moment of silence. I asked my son, who was more of an adventurous eater than his two sisters. How was it? He said it was good. It was not as strong as other curries he had in the past. It was mild and sweet and it didn’t hurt his throat. He loved it! The other two kids also nodded with approval. That was my happiest day since the stay-at-home order started in March. Mission accomplished!

See Smell Taste Japanese Curry Mix

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