One of my earliest food memories with my husband was a date to San Francisco’s Japantown to eat spicy Japanese Curry. I remember ordering a pumpkin curry. And that I was mildly concerned about how spicy it would be. This place is known for its intense spice. So, after some consultation with the server, I went for the 3 chili curry instead of the 5 chili curry. In retrospect, I should have gone for the 5 chili curry.
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These days, I mostly make Japanese curry at home, and it’s usually some form of this one pot Japanese pumpkin curry stew. It’s a very forgiving dish, with the bulk of the seasonings coming from these seasoning blocks (<-affiliate). I find them in most grocery stores in the international foods section, or at specialty Asian grocers. They’re super easy, relatively cheap, and delicious. If you’re looking to avoid wheat flour or MSG, check out this from scratch option for your Japanese curry base.
Japanese curry has a slightly sweeter flavor, often due to pear or apple additions in the curry (as opposed to an Indian korma curry). I love how it complements red kuri squash or kabocha squash in the sweetness while still providing a spicy heat.
This recipe is an old favorite in our household, especially in the fall and winter as temperatures start to drop.
Here’s what I love about this one pot Japanese pumpkin curry stew:
- It’s flexible and adaptable to whatever produce you have at home.
- One pot/ dutch oven/slow cooker/ pressure cooker means fewer dishes!
- It’s sweet and spicy and savory all at the same time.
- So much creaminess and texture from the vegetables in one dish.
- You can serve it on its own as a stew, or over rice for a more traditional curry.
Are you ready to make it? Then here. We. Go. Be sure to get those onions and garlic nice and golden. Always key to a good meal. Looking for any other one pot type meals? Check out these soup and stew options.
One Pot Japanese Pumpkin Curry Stew
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 14- ounce package firm or extra firm tofu, diced into 1-inch cubes
- 1 kuri or kabocha squash or pumpkin (about 3 pounds)
- 2 large carrots, diced (about 2 cups)
- 3 cups hot water
- 4 to 6 cubes Japanese curry roux blocks
- 1 small head of cabbage, diced (about 1 pound)
- Short grain brown rice, for serving (optional)
Heat a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
Add olive oil and bring up to temperature.
Add onion and salt to hot olive oil and stir well to coat. Reduce heat to low and let onions cook 10 to 15 minutes until translucent and fragrant.
Add in minced garlic and diced tofu. Let cook another 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so the sides brown lightly.
While onions, garlic and tofu are cooking, dice your squash.
When onions and tofu are heated, add in the squash or pumpkin, carrots, hot water, and curry roux blocks. Increase heat to medium and mix well until the roux blocks are completely dissolved.
Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and cover. Let cook and simmer another 20 to 30 minutes until the squash is tender.
Add in diced cabbage, stir well and let cook another 5 to 10 minutes or until the cabbage is cooked to your preference.
Serve as a stew or with short grain brown rice.
Kuri squash and kabocha squash are both excellent in this Japanese Pumpkin Curry Stew. You don’t have to peel these Japanese squashes, which makes it very convenient to use them in your cooking. Whatever kind of winter squash or pumpkin you use, be sure to save and clean the seeds to toast with a bit of olive oil for an extra snack!
Select the Japanese curry roux blocks (<-affiliate) depending on how spicy you like your curries. Start with 4 blocks, and add extra if you are looking for extra heat or flavor.
Adding hot water (I use an electric kettle) decreases the cook time because you’ve pre boiled the liquid.
The nutrition facts listed below do not include nutrition for serving over rice.
Most of the curry blocks I’ve encountered are made with wheat flour. However, you can try making your own from scratch.
Traditional Japanese curry is is often served with chicken or beef. You can use 1 pound, cut into 1 to 2-inch cubes. Brown the meat with the onions prior to adding the seasonings and water.
Check the Fridge
Have any other vegetables? Potatoes, celery, other greens could all be added or swapped for ingredients in this one pot pumpkin curry stew.
Check out this recipe for an option to make Japanese pumpkin curry stew without the roux blocks.
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