The wild rice was getting past its expiry date. I had corn and tofu in the refrigerator. And a recently purchased tin of Japanese S&B curry powder. That’s how it came together. And it was wonderful.
To come up with a recipe that works really well usually takes experimentation – this one was a spur of the moment creation that worked way better than spur of the moment creations normally do.
Curry is quite big in Japan, enjoyed at home and widely available in restaurants. Some claim it rivals ramen as Japan’s most popular comfort food.
The style of curry
The curry powder used to make the curry sauce is quite important. While you could use your preferred curry powder, I think one of the reasons this dish worked was because of the Japanese style curry. While originating from the familiar South Asian roots, Japanese style curry has evolved in a very different direction. As with how South Asian style curry made its way to Vietnam, the story of how curry made its way to Japan is similarly intriguing. You can find links to these stories in the Food Stories section.
I used S&B Oriental Curry Powder, one of the most famous and widely available Japanese curry brands. You could also use a curry sauce mix – S&B and Vermont being the most popular brands in Japan. Or make you own from the individual spices! Maki at JustHungry.com also does a good analysis of what spices are actually in Japanese curry.
We should all be eating a lot more wild rice. Healthjade has a great article on its background story including what it really is (a grass), and its nutritional breakdown. Bottom line is that it has a delicious nutty flavor and a satisfying chewy texture.
The Spruce Eats has a lot more detail on cooking techniques for wild rice.
Crispy tofu and curry sauce on wild rice
- 3 cups dashi hondashi or niban dashi will be OK for this purpose
- 1 medium carrot
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 fennel bulb optional
- 1 apple
- 2 onions
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 5 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 Tbsp grated ginger
- 3 Tbsp Japanese curry powder S&B preferred
- 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 3 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp black sesame paste optional
- 500 g firm tofu
- 3 cups cooking oil
Wild rice and corn
- 1 cup wild rice
- 2 cups dashi hondashi or niban dashi will be OK for this purpose
- 2 cobs sweet corn
- 1 red pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Wash and dice the carrots, celery, fennel, and 1 onion.
- Bring the dashi to a simmer in a saucepan and add the diced vegetables.
- Simmer for 45 minutes.
- Also add the corn from the wild rice section, keeping in the simmering stock for 10 minutes.
- Strain out the vegetables and retain the dashi.
- Finely dice the other onion.
- Peel, deseed, and grate the apple.
- In a sauté pan or wok, melt the butter, then add the other onion. Sauté until starting to brown.
- Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for a couple more minutes.
- Add the curry powder and dried chilli flakes and sauté until fragrant.
- Add the flour and stir to form a paste.
- Sauté the paste for a few minutes, stirring all the time, until it turns a deep golden colour.
- Add the tomato paste, grated apple, and black sesame paste (if using) and stir in.
- Slowly add the dashi, stirring all the time to combine.
- Add the soy sauce and and check for seasoning. Add a little more if necessary.
- Simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- First press the moisture out of the tofu by wrapping in a clean tea towel or multiple layers of kitchen paper towels.
- Place a flat plate on top, and a weight on top of that. A can of tomatoes would be a suitable weight.
- Leave for 30 minutes then pat dry.
- Cut the tofu into chunks of around 25mm square.
- Heat the cooking oil in a skillet or wok. If the tip of a wooden chop stick dipped into the oil causes bubbles, it is not enough. If it’s smoking it is too hot.
- Gently place pieces of tofu into the oil and fry until golden all over. Avoid overcrowding the pan. Do in batches.
- Drain on paper towels.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degC.
- Heat the dashi to near boiling.
- Combine the wild rice and hot dashi in a casserole with a tight fitting lid.
- Cover and bake for 1 hour.
- Halve and deseed the red pepper. Smear with olive oil and put in the oven as well.
- Remove the red pepper after 1 hour in the oven.
- After one hour, fluff up the rice with a fork and test for doneness. If drying out and still too chewy, add some more dashi or some water and return to the oven for another 30 minutes. If it hasn’t absorbed all the dashi, also return to the oven for another 30 minutes. Depending on the age/dryness of the rice, it may even take 2 hours to absorb the moisture.
- Cook the corn cobs in with the dashi stock prepared for the curry sauce.
- After the corn has cooled, cut the corn kernels from the cob.
- Dice the roasted red pepper into corn kernel sized pieces.
- When the wild rice is cooked, stir the corn kernels and diced red pepper into the rice.
- Add a layer of cooked wild rice to the plate. Top with a few pieces of crisp tofu. Ladle on some curry sauce.