This curry stands out for its variety of textures and flavors: the firm and sweet kabocha, the tangy and squishy tomatoes, the velvety eggplant, the amazingly crunchy renkon… every bite, coated in a robust curry, is different and interesting.
But before I get into that, I have to mention I’ve fallen into a slump. I was home alone, which means I usually revert to eating like a college student. Mac and cheese with a squeeze of sriracha, instant ramen topped with kimchee, and rice with fried egg drizzled with shoyu… you get the idea. Since the most rewarding part of cooking is sharing the meal with others, the process of cooking now felt laborious. Without mouths to feed, my motivation dissipated.
But I decided to cook at least one meal for myself during this time alone. I’d been eyeing this curry for a long time, and now that the weather demanded something hearty and warm I made up my mind to make it. I could freeze a portion for later and still the remainder would feed me for days.
The kabocha, green beans, renkon, and eggplant are deep fried before going into the pot. The recipe called for a small portion of sliced beef and a bouillon cube so it’s not a vegetarian recipe, but it could be very easily adapted. The key is to taste along the way and modify as you see fit. I tend to like my curry very spicy and on the watery side. I could’ve used more heat, so I’ll have to remember that for next time.
Adapted from きょうの料理 (June 2000)
Makes 6 generous servings
Like many dishes of this kind, the flavors are better on the second day. The eggplant and tomato will have melted into the curry by this time, so add more to the pot, if you like.
7 oz. kabocha, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 renkon (lotus root), peeled then cut into bite-sized pieces
2 Japanese eggplant, cut into bite-sized pieces
10 green beans, cut in half crosswise
1 large tomato, cut into large bite-sized pieces
1 package shimeji mushrooms, trimmed
1/4 lb. beef, sliced thin
1 tsp. ground cumin
ginger, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup red wine
3 1/2 cups water
6.5 oz. curry flakes
2 Tbsp. tonkatsu sauce
Start by deep frying the kabocha, eggplant, renkon, and green beans. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. Fry until light brown (the eggplant is quick, so keep a watchful eye!) and drain on a plate lined with a paper towel.
Next, heat 1 Tbsp. of oil in a large pot over low heat. Once the oil is hot, add the ginger, garlic, and cumin. Cook until fragrant, about a minute. Turn the heat to medium low and add the onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the sliced beef into the pot and cook until no longer red. Add the wine, bouillon cube, and water to the pot and stir. Cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Carefully ladle out any impurities.
Turn off the heat and add the curry flakes, fried vegetables, tomatoes, shimeji, tonkatsu sauce, and 1 cup of hot water. You could add 1/2 cup at a time, if you like, to get the desired consistency. I tend to add more than enough water, then cook down. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Serve with steamed rice, fukujinzuke, and hard boiled egg.