Japanese Beef Curry in a Slow Cooker

Japanese curry is different from Indian curry because it’s something I would call, semi-homemade, not made from scratch. The “curry” is packaged into cubes of curry blocks that’s just added to your pot of meat, vegetables and water; similar to an instant sauce. There are Japanese and Korean food companies that make a variety of these “blocks”  that can be found readily available in many Asian markets.  It has become so common that in my neighborhood you can even find it at the local supermarket.

I usually make a chicken curry using chicken thighs because it can be whipped together in a half hour and the chicken is very tender.  However, once in a while I like to make a beef curry but it requires more time for the stewing meat to soften. So, yesterday I thought, “why not use my crock pot?”.  By crock pot, I mean slow cooker.  With a few minor adjustments, it turned out quite good and passed the family test.  For those who are short on time, I think this could be really helpful.  So, bring out that slow cooker, spend a little time preparing everything in advance and just a half hour before you are ready to eat, add the curry blocks and there you have a hot hearty meal!

Although there are instructions on the packet, please note that for this recipe I have changed the amount of water and ingredients. Using a slow cooker, the vegetables tend produce a lot of liquid, so I have adjusted the amount such that the consistency doesn’t become too runny.

Japanese Beef Curry in a Crock Pot


  • 2 lbs. stewing beef
  • flour/salt/pepper
  • 2 large onions – chopped finely
  • 4 skinny carrots – chopped into bite size pieces
  • 2 medium potatoes – chopped into large bite size pieces
  • 4 to 4 1/4 cups water
  • secret ingredients:  soy sauce, tonkatsu sauce, sake, ketchup, butter, etc.


  • In a bowl, add meat and sprinkle with flour, salt and pepper to coat all sides beef
  • Heat a frying pan and add oil, add beef and brown all sides
  • Set beef aside on a plate.  Add 2 cups of water to the pan and scrape off the beef juices.  Keep this water.
  • Assemble slow cooker:  First add 1/2 of the chopped onions, add carrots and potatoes and then add beef.  Pour the saved 2 cups of water and add the other 1/2 of chopped onions on top.  Optional:  add 3 Tablespoons of sake ( Japanese rice wine)
  • Set the slow cooker and cook for 8-10 hours until beef is tender and falls apart.
  • Add 2 – 2 1/4 cups of boiling water to the slow cooker, then add all the curry blocks and stir until all the blocks are melted.
  • Secret ingredients:  The Japanese like to add a kick and personalize their curry with a variety of ingredients readily available in your pantry.  Here are a few you can try to add:  soy sauce, tonkatsu sauce, ketchup, oyster sauce, steak sauce, sake, instant coffee and chocolate.  I’ve added all except the coffee and chocolate, but my girlfriend who’s tried them says it’s good, and I believe her because she’s a good cook – I will try it one of these days….
  • Last but not least I like to add about 2 tablespoons of butter to give it a smooth  texture and rich flavor.
  • Enjoy with hot rice.

Hope you give this a try and please tell me what you think!


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  1. I was thinking about doing crock-pot Japanese curry since it is similar in fashion to stew. Your steps seem straightforward enough, but do you think I could just dissolve the curry in maybe a bit of water straight away and then cook the whole ensemble for the 8-10 hours to get the beef falling apart?

  2. Hi Chris,
    I haven’t tried that method. I don’t know why but the Japanese instructions always say to add the curry at the very last minute. Maybe over cooking the curry roux changes the flavor. It doesn’t take long for the curry flavor to meld with the ingredients, so if I were you I’d just add it at the last moment after all the meat has fallen apart.

  3. By the Taisho Era in 1912, Japanese beef curry featured onions, carrots and potatoes and was made in massive quantities to serve the Japanese Army both with ease and nutrition.

  4. Whats the shelf life on the curry blocks? I brought one about three months ago, and I can’t read the label for the use by date.

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