If I had to name two cuisines that are not home to Singapore, yet have taken Singapore by storm, it would have to be Japanese and Korean. Between the two, I would say that Japanese cuisine has been popular here for a longer time – we are no strangers to sushi, tempura, katsu curry and other popular Japanese dishes. But Korean cuisine has been picking up in terms of popularity here, too, especially with the hit of the Hallyu wave in most Asian countries these few years. Korean BBQ, bibimbap (a mixed rice dish), bingsu (a Korean shaved ice dessert) – these are just a few names of the most popular dishes. The more adventurous have ventured further, to dishes perhaps popular among Koreans, but as known to foreigners, such as naengmyun (buckwheat noodles in a cold tangy broth), and dwenjangchigae (fermented bean paste stew).
As diverse as the cuisine is here in Singapore – we really can’t complain about the variety we have here, so readily at hand, too – I cannot say that it comes cheap. Specialty cuisines like this are rather pricey if you’re looking for those with good quality, or are at least somewhat authentic. I once ate a $5.50 bowl of ‘noodles in Kimchi stew’ at a food court, and boy was it disappointing. The broth tasted nothing like kimchi, and resembled the soup base of a Chinese hotpot. You pay for what you get. is a lesson I learnt. I had similar experiences with Jap curry as well, although not as bad. At most places, they do taste decent. But the price per portion comes close to $10 every time, and is not really a cost-effective meal if the whole family goes (my dad eats a lot). My mum’s frugal personality also doesn’t like the idea of spending so much money eating out, especially on food she doesn’t think is worth the price. So my solution? Try it outside myself, and if I like it, I learn to cook it at home! #filial
—This is the part where I actually start to talk about the recipe.–
I can’t remember why I decided to cook Japanese curry on Sunday, but I did. I found the Vermont Curry Bricks (230g) in Medium Hot at FairPrice Finest in JCube. For this recipe, I used half the box (the equivalent of 6 bricks). It turned out great – a delicious, thick sauce with meat and potato chunks. A huge portion too, perfect for my family.
Disclaimer: This is not Katsu curry (the one with the fried pork cutlet) . I’d try to make that, but my sister’s taking her O Levels right now, and I wouldn’t be the brightest bulb if I decided that it would be a good idea to feed her friend cutlet a few days before her Oral exam. This is one is made with chunks of pork shoulder. Less oil, and less dishes to wash!
Japanese Curry with Pork Chunks
Feeds 4 very hungry people, or 6 normal people
- 800g pork shoulder or chicken thighs, chopped into 1-inch cubes
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- Thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced
- 2 large carrots, finely diced
- 3 medium potatoes, roughly chopped into large pieces
- 1 apple, grated
- 6 bricks of Vermont Curry, chopped into small pieces
- 850ml water
- Cooking oil
- Put a pan on medium heat. Add 1 tbsp oil. Brown the meat cubes on all sides, no need to cook through.
- Remove browned meat and set aside.
- Using the same pan, add 1 tbsp more of oil. Allow the oil to become warm, then add in onions. Sautee for 5 minutes.
- Add in finely diced carrot, minced garlic, and ginger. Sautee for 3 minutes.
- Pour in 850ml of water to de-glaze the pan. Allow it to come to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes, with the lid on.
- Add in the roughly chopped potatoes, and 1 grated apple. Cover to simmer for anoter 10 minutes.
- At this point, dump in the meat. Simmer for 10 more minutes with the lid on.
- Turn off the burner. Add in your chopped up curry bricks. Stir to dissolve.
- When fully dissolved, turn the burner back on. With the lid on, let the sauce boil and thicken for a final 10 minutes.
- Serve with hot rice, and get fat!