Posts Tagged ‘japanese curry’

Around Japan in 47 curries: Tochigi strawberry curry

May 31, 2013

This is Part 3 of a 47-part series of weekly blog posts looking at curries from each of Japan’s 47 prefectures.

Map by Lincun for Wikimedia Commons

Map by Lincun for Wikimedia Commons

Only eight of Japan’s 47 prefectures are landlocked, and Tochigi is one of them. Even so, its second-most-famous landmark is made of water: 97-meter-high Kegon Falls. This waterfall is in the town of Nikko, which is also home to the prefecture’s No. 1 landmark: Toshogu Shrine. The shrine was established in 1617 as a mausoleum for Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616), who founded the Tokugawa shogunate that ruled Japan until the 1860s.

Toshogu is decorated with colorfully painted wooden carvings, including the earliest known rendition of the hear-no-evil, see-no-evil, speak-no-evil monkeys.

By David Monniaux for Wikimedia Commons

By David Monniaux for Wikimedia Commons

It could be that these monkeys are a visual pun on the proverb “mizaru, kikazaru, iwazaru,” as the negative verb suffix “zaru” sounds like the Japanese word for monkey. Or it could be that the monkeys are expressing astonishment at the very idea of this week’s curry: Tochigi strawberry.
tochigi strawberry 001

Yes, strawberrry.

Toshogu may be the prefecture’s main historical attraction, but strawberries are its claim to fame in the agricultural field. It is Japan’s top producer of them. According the prefecture’s official tourism website, “Tochiotome, a large, sweet variety of strawberry with a vivid red color, represents Japanese strawberries. This variety is large in size and sweet, juicy and soft in taste.”

So, naturally there is a Tochigi strawberry curry – made with tochiotome strawberrries.

The ingredient list begins, “Vegetables (onion, potato, carrot), strawberry puree, beef, sugar, flour, apple puree, lard, curry powder…” Flavors further down the list include ginger, chutney and apple vinegar.It’s sweet, but not overpoweringly so, and just a little tangy.

Upon tasting it, I had a sudden mental image of cheese – which is NOT an ingredient. The reason for this odd association is that it reminded me very much of the sweet curry sauce that the Pizza-La pizza delivery chain offers on some of its pizzas. The company markets such pizzas as popular among kids, but I haven’t been a kid for a long time and I love them.

As for this tasty curry, it was mild enough to be just right for this morning’s breakfast.

strawberry mark

Around Japan in 47 curries: Kagawa olive curry

May 24, 2013

This is Part 2 of a 47-part series of weekly blog posts looking at curries from each of Japan’s 47 prefectures.

Kagawa Prefecture (map by Lincun for Wikimedia Commons)

Kagawa Prefecture (map by Lincun for Wikimedia Commons)

Kagawa is the smallest of Japan’s 47 prefectures. It has a total land area of about 1,870 square kilometers, making it about half the size of Long Island, New York. Most of Kagawa occupies the northeastern corner of Shikoku, but much of it is scattered across more than a dozen islands in the Seto Inland Sea. The 13-kilometer Seto Ohashi bridge hopscotches across a couple of the smaller islands to connect Kagawa with Okayama Prefecture, on the main island of Honshu.

The largest of Kagawa’s islands is Shodoshima, which boasts two major products: soy sauce and olives. Lots of places in Japan are proud of their local soy sauce, but olives are unusual. In 1908, this island became the first place in Japan to successfully cultivate them. The prefecture even has a local professional baseball team called the Kagawa Olive Guyners.

Kagawa olive 001Ingredients in the olive curry I’ve picked to represent Kagawa include olives, olive oil, and olive leaf tea. There’s some Shodoshima soy sauce in there, too. The olives are green (and pitted) and taste like they were cooked fresh rather than first being pickled. You have to be looking for the olive flavor in order to appreciate it, though, because the dominant flavor is the peppery taste of the thin sauce. The ingredients list a mysterious “seasoning powder” several places ahead of “curry powder,” which may explain why this curry tastes more like pepper stew. In addition to olives, the solid ingredients are the usual onions, potatoes and carrots.

I purchased a single-serving package of this curry for 530 yen at Japan Food Market, a temporary-looking shop in the Koshigaya Laketown Mall in Saitama Prefecture.

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