Kare raisu is a common lunchtime curry and consists of curry, rice and pickled vegetables – all served on the same plate and eaten with a spoon – ultimate comfort food.
The dish was introduced to Japan by the British between 1869 and 1912, during the Meiji era shortly after Japan’ national self-isolation (Sakoku) period.
At that stage, curry was considered to be a western dish and not really acceptable, but because the army and the navy there used it with gusto (it was really great canteen food) it was quickly accepted by the nation.
It wasn’t possible to become accustomed to curry every Friday and then forget about it, so to this day, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force still enjoy curry every Friday at lunchtime and many ships have their own special recipes.
The basic Japanese curries consist of meat, onions, carrots, celery and potatoes simmered in a large pot – occasionally with grated apples to sweeten it a little.
Pork is the most popular meat used in the north, in Okinawa it’s chicken and eastern part of Japan and in the western parts, beef is preferred.
Curry is commonly sold in the form of a condensed 'brick' which dissolves in the mixture of meat and vegetables.
In Korea, curry and it’s use is identical to Japan but occasionally the curry and rice is served with crumbed pork cutlets (tonkatsu) and called Katsu-kare (cutlet curry) or korokke (potato croquettes).
Well known internationally are the kare udon which are thick noodles in curry flavoured soup and kare-pan – a deep fried bread in a batter with curry in the middle.