Instant Pot Japanese curry is a one-pot complete meal ready in under 30 minutes. It's made with tender, juicy beef and hearty vegetables cooked in a mouthwatering flavor-loaded curry that has a distinct signature flavor of sweet and savory with a slight heat. The perfect comfort dish any night of the week!
Japanese curry is a must-try at least once. Are you surprised to know that Japan has a curry dish? If you've ever traveled to Japan or ordered from a Japanese restaurant, chances are you've eaten this popular dish. If this is your first time learning about it, trust me, you're going to wonder how you survived this long without it.
It's made with tender beef, aromatics like onion and garlic, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and apples submerged in a flavorful sauce made from a curry roux, beef broth, and tomato paste. If you're a fan of Indian curry but have never tried the Japanese version, well giddy-up because you're going to love this incredible comfort food. Making it at home in your pressure cooker takes the guesswork out of it, and the results are incredible!
Although it did originate as Indian curry brought over by the British way back in the day, it has since become its own entity. It was changed over the years to suit the taste buds of the people of Japan so that it can no longer be considered the same as Indian curry. It's loaded with flavor and has a wonderful balance of sweet, savory, and salty. It's generally thicker than Indian curry and less spicy, and despite the complexity of its flavor, it is really easy to make!
I'm not usually a fan of ready-made sauces, but for this pressure cooker Japanese curry recipe, I'm making an exception. Even in Japan, it's more common to use a pre-made curry package than to make it from scratch.
Instant Pot Japanese curry is made in one pot in under 30 minutes. Served over a bed of white rice, you've got a complete meal that everyone will devour. Your kids will be hard-pressed to resist licking their plates clean! Make lots and have some for leftovers the next day or freeze for when you need a tasty wholesome dinner in a pinch on any busy weeknight.
Why This Recipe Works
- It's delicious and very popular with kids. They'll be asking for seconds!
- Customizable. The spice level can be flexible as well as which brand of roux you use, and of course which vegetables you add-in. Beef is a popular choice but you could use a different protein as well.
- Makes great leftovers! Using the Instant Pot allows you to make a big batch which is great for meal prepping and planning.
- All ingredients can be found in your local Asian market or the "international foods" section at your grocery store.
- The Instant Pot makes this dish even easier and more convenient. It also results in tender beef and veggies.
Ready-Made Curry Roux
When I make a dish from scratch, I usually like to make it, well, from scratch. There are exceptions to the rule, however. First, when I'm short on time there's nothing wrong with a shortcut. Second, when making Japanese curry, it's almost strange NOT to use a ready-made roux!
At least one brand is usually found in most local Asian markets, a specialty aisle in the grocery store, or on Amazon. While you're at it, pick up a few extra packages and keep them stocked in your pantry or cupboards. They can come in mild, medium, or hot and are a simple way of getting all of those complex flavors to come together.
Listed below are 3 of the most popular brands available. Have a read and then decide which you'd like to use. Spoiler alert...they're all great!
- Golden curry - [my favorite] More savory than sweet. The mildest of the bunch, which means you can play around with the ingredients and adjust the flavor to your liking. It comes in 3 different spice levels: mild, medium hot, and hot.
- Vermont curry - Kids love the sweetness in this brand! It contains honey, apples, and cheese (yes, seriously) and it's incredibly delicious.
- Java curry - Less sweet than Vermont, but also spicier. It's got a great balance of sweet and savory with a flavorful heat.
- Instant Pot
- Measuring Cup
- Measuring Spoons
- Vegetable Peeler
- Cutting Board
- Wooden Spoon or Rubber Spatula
⬇️ Please scroll down to the recipe card to see the full ingredient amounts and instructions ⬇️
- Beef - Chuck roast, trimmed of fat, and cut into 1-inch cubes. Chuck roast, while not the cheapest cut of meat (definitely not the most expensive either) results in flavorful juicy meat once broken down and tenderized under pressure.
- Salt & pepper - A simply added seasoning to round out all of the flavors. You do a taste test first to see if you even need to add salt. Depending on your beef broth and how salty you find the roux, you may not even need extra salt. Do a little taste test at the end first.
- Olive oil - Used to saute the beef, aromatics, and veggies before pressure cooking. It prevents the ingredients from sticking to the pot. If you don't have olive oil, use any high-heat oil such as avocado, vegetable, or canola oil.
- Aromatics - Minced garlic and diced onions impart amazing flavor to this dish.
- Apple - I like to use Fiji or any sweet variety of apples for this recipe because it balances out the saltiness of the curry. You can use whatever similar type you have on hand. The apples will eventually dissolve into the curry.
- Beef stock - The liquid base for the entire dish. Again, if you find the curry roux too salty, you can opt to use low-sodium or no-salt broth.
- Tomato paste - Thickens up the curry, while adding color and an acidic note to balance out the sweetness.
- Worcestershire sauce - Another way to cut through the sweetness is by adding a depth of savory flavor.
- Veggies – Cubed carrots, cubed baby potatoes, and sliced mushrooms add taste and texture, and body to this dish. It is a complete meal in one dish!
- Japanese curry roux - Whichever brand you prefer: Golden Curry, Vermont Curry, or Java Curry. Find it at your local grocery store in the international section or buy it online.
How to Make the Best Instant Pot Japanese Curry
Prep the ingredients:
- Dice the onions and carrots.
- Mince the garlic.
- Slice the mushrooms.
- Peel, core, and dice the apples.
- Cut the potatoes into 1-inch halves or quarters.
- Trim the fat off the beef and cut it into 1 inch cubes.
Step 1: Turn on the Instant Pot and press [SAUTE]. Season the beef cubes with salt and pepper. Once the display reads “Hot” add oil and sear the sides of the beef. Work in batches to avoid overcrowding. Do not flip too soon. The meat should easily release once it forms a nice crust. Add more oil, if needed. Once the beef is seared, set it aside.
Step 2: Still on saute mode, cook the onions for 2-4 minutes until translucent. Stir occasionally. Add more oil, if needed. Press [CANCEL]. Add garlic and apple and cook for 30 seconds.
Step 3: Deglaze the pot by adding the beef stock. Use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to scrape the bits at the bottom of the pot. Those bits at the bottom of the pot will add a ton of flavor. Stir in tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce and add the beef back into the pot.
Step 4: Close the lid on the pressure cooker and set the valve to the "sealing" position. Press [PRESSURE COOK or MANUAL] (depending on the model of your Instant Pot – they mean the same thing) and set the cooking time for 18 minutes on High Pressure.
Step 5: If you haven't prepped your veggies yet, do that now while the beef is cooking. Once the beef is finished cooking, do a natural release for 10 minutes before turning the valve to the "venting" position to release the remaining pressure.
Step 6: Open the lid and toss in the carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms. Close the lid, place the valve in the "sealing" position once more and pressure cook for 4 minutes. Do a natural release for at least 10 minutes before releasing the remaining pressure and opening the lid. Add the Japanese Curry Roux and give everything a good stir. Do a little taste test (be careful it's HOT!). Add salt and pepper to taste.
Tips & Variations
- Make white rice quickly and easily in the Instant Pot. Do this beforehand, and you'll have it ready for serving.
- Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes also work if you'd prefer to use them.
- Switch up the protein next time around. Chicken, pork, tofu, and seafood are all great choices for this dish.
- Add ginger along with the onion and garlic for an additional depth of flavor, which is very common in Asian dishes.
- When you saute the beef, don't be concerned if there isn't a deep brown crust on the outside. The Instant Pot isn't meant for true searing, but it will still be enough to lock in the moisture. To ensure that you're searing it, work in batches and do not overcrowd.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! Try upping the vegetables and using mushrooms as the main ingredient to replace the meat. You could also add in some tofu or tempeh for protein. You will not need to pressure cook it for that long.
Depending on the type of apple you use, it'll give the curry a sweet or tangy taste. The apple will dissolve into the curry so that you won’t be eating chunks of apples, but it is not necessary. You can omit this if you'd like.
The Japanese curry roux comes in many different flavors with different spice levels. There's mild, med-hot, and hot. How spicy it is will depend on the type of roux that you purchase.
If the curry is too thick, add ¼ cup of water or broth. Stir and add more, if necessary.
When the curry is hot, it will be thin. It should thicken up as it cools. If it is still too liquidity, you can try cooking off some of the liquid by using the [Saute] mode in your instant pot.
How to Serve Japanese Curry
Serve it over a bed of sticky or soft short-grain white rice. Add an egg (either hard-boiled, soft-boiled, or fried) and pickled veggies, either daikon, ginger, or onions on the side. It's so good!
Some people also enjoy eating it with a baguette, udon noodles, or a salad.
Storing & Reheating Suggestions
Store any leftover curry in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. I like to portion it out into smaller containers that way I only need to thaw what I need. When ready to serve, thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat on the stovetop or microwave. If you find it has become too thick, add a splash of water or broth to the curry as it warms through.
Instant Pot Japanese Curry
- 2 pound beef chuck roast, fat trimmed, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ apple (fiji or similar), peel, core and dice
- 5 cups beef stock
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3 carrots, cut into ½-inch slices
- 6 baby potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 6 mushrooms, sliced
- 2 (3.2 oz) box Japanese Curry Roux
- Season the beef with salt and pepper. Turn the Instant Pot on [SAUTE] mode and wait until the screen displays "Hot". Add olive oil and sear the sides of the beef (you may need to do multiple batches to avoid overcrowding). Remove the seared beef onto a plate.
- Add onions and saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add more oil, if needed. Press [CANCEL]. Add garlic and apple, cook for 30 seconds.
- Deglaze the pot by adding in beef stock and using a rubber spatula to scrape the golden bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Stir in tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce. Add the beef back into the pot.
- Place the lid on, making sure the knob is in the "sealing" position. Press [PRESSURE COOK] (or MANUAL) and set it to cook on high pressure for 18 minutes. While the beef is cooking, prep the vegetables. Once the beef finishes cooking, let it naturally release pressure for at least 10 minutes before turning the knob to the "venting" position.
- Open the lid; Add the carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms. Close the lid, making sure the knob is in the "sealing" position. Press [PRESSURE COOK] for 4 minutes, letting it naturally release pressure for at least 10 minutes before opening the lid.
- Add the Japanese Curry roux and give it a good stir. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve warm with a side of white rice.
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