a rouxed awakening: curry week on pmk.

yeah, i’ve been eating like a king.  i’ve made ceviche, prepared boatloads of raw food, made nine sauces from scratch in a single week, and eaten enough smoked meat in a single sitting to kill a lesser man.  i’ve made a three-course dinner and eaten it all by myself more times than i can count.

but that isn’t what pmk is about.  making a huge quantity of food that tastes so rich you can feel yourself getting gout is all well and good, but the point of pmk is to show that the average person can create kingly meals with a normal person’s salary.  i’ve haven’t truly been living like a peasant to the greatest extent possible, and for that, i apologize.

so in an effort to get in touch with my own slogan, i have officially declared this week “curry week.”  cheap, delicious, and almost infinite in its varieties, curry is the perfect dish to showcase what pmk is all about.  can i feed myself this week for less than ¥2000 (about $20) and still make food that would make your average diner jealous?  i don’t know, but i’m going to do everything within my power to make it work.

most of my money saving efforts will be concentrated on roux.  in japan, your average grocery store has so many different varieties of prepackaged roux it would make your head spin.  mild curry roux, spicy curry roux, beef stew roux, cream stew roux, tomato beef stew roux, hayashi rice roux.  you get the idea.

“wait, did he say prepackaged roux?”  yes, i did.  most people in japan use this roux for exactly what it was intended, namely to make a thick and delicious sauce with none of the waiting, ingredients, or know-how normally required.  is the flavor way too salty?  of course.  is it terrible for you to just eat vegetables boiled in a concentrated high sodium sauce?  you bet you butt it is.  so why, as a person who has no problem spending the time and using the know-how required to make a good sauce, would i choose to use a prepackaged roux?

two reasons.  one, they are crazy cheap.  two, they are one of the best thickeners on the market.  a few cubes of roux eliminate the need to reduce or dilute the flavor of your food with flour/corn starch.  think of japanese roux like condensed soup in the usa.  starting to make a little more sense?  great.

now go look into opening a new bank account, because we are about to save some serious money.

kabocha cream chicken keema


you’ll need:

  • mild curry roux
  • ground chicken
  • 1/4 of a kabocha
  • chicken stock
  • water
  • four cloves of garlic
  • half an onion
  • heavy whipping cream
  • black pepper
  1. take the seeds and stringy bits out of the middle of the kabocha with a spoon and throw them away.  use a knife to cut off any welts or super dirty spots you see on the outside, but otherwise leave the green knobby skin intact.  cut the kabocha into bite-sized pieces.  put it in a pot.
  2. add enough chicken stock to the pot to cover the kabocha.  crank up the heat and bring it to a boil, then cover the pot.  let it cook until the kabocha are soft enough to pierce all the way through with a chopstick or fork.
  3. peel your onion and garlic, and mince both finely.  add them to a frying pan with a little bit of oil and cook over medium heat for two or three minutes.  add the ground chicken and black pepper and cook until the chicken almost completely done all the way through.  make sure to break it up nice and small to get that keema sensation just right.
  4. drain most of the chicken stock, but make sure to retain a little.  add the garlic-onion-ground chicken mixture to the pot, and mash using a spoon or a potato masher.
  5. turn the stove to low heat and bring the mash to a simmer.  slowly add the heavy whipping cream in a circular motion.  you don’t need a whole lot, about a 1/4 to a 1/2 a cup should be plenty to get the creamy texture you are shooting for.
  6. cover, and let the ensemble simmer for another 10 or 15 minutes over super low heat.
  7. kill the heat, remove the lid, and stir in the curry roux one block at a time until you reach the desired texture.  please, be careful.  make sure to taste as you go, and remember that curry tends to thicken up a lot as it starts to cool.  you basically just made a chowder, so you don’t need to add a lot of curry roux for the sake of thickening your dish.  one or two cubes should be plenty.
  8. dive in and get messy.  pour it over rice, eat it with homemade nan, or leave a little more stock in next time and eat it as soup-curry.  anything goes, just have fun with it.

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