Japanese Beef Curry

I arrived in Kyoto two days after a 18+ hour long flight and still very jet-lagged out of my skull. I was sick of mass transits. So I wanted to walk everywhere instead of being packed into a transportable metal box, even though it was a little rainy.  We diverted from main roads and explored through the minor alley-type roads instead. These roads are seriously no wider than your arm span. But, you can find some the best hidden restaurants on these roads. Miles of walking made me really hungry and I wanted something beefy.

Japanese Beef Curry

We found a small restaurant alongside these small roads, permeating it’s heavenly scent from their kitchen to my nose. A hanging cloth sign out front reads “Karē;” Sean translated for me. A place for Japanese curry! Japanese, Indian, and Thai curry all have similar spice blends, but Japanese curry is sweeter and thicker. It hearty, warming, and a perfect rainy day lunch.

It’s generally milder but spices and hot oils are served with the dish to suit one’s taste. Japanese curry paste カレー can be found in the grocery store, but usually contains wheat. Fortunately, making the curry paste is not difficult. A tapioca based roux is prepared and added with spices to create the curry paste. The curry paste is then mixed into a stew of meat and vegetables to create a hearty stew.  Beef is common in the Kyoto area and that’s what fueled my tour.

Japanese Beef Curry

For this kind of curry, I would pair it with starches like rice and potatoes. Starches. Oh come on, starches aren’t so bad! Are you the “safe starch” version of Paleo like me? Then you’ll love this curry! The phrase “safe starches” is commonly used by Drs Paul and Shou Ching Jaminet in The Perfect Health Diet. Safe starches include arrowroot, tapioca, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and white rice. :) These starches are considered benign sources of fuel and I love them.

Are White Potatoes Paleo?

That’s so 2008. I absolutely love potatoes! They are not allowed on Paleo challenges like Lurong, Whole 30 and 21DSD. But as for being considered “Paleo?” Potatoes are real nutritious food. It simply boils down to a person’s Paleo template. If you like potatoes and do well with them, then chow down. I always found it arbitrary that potatoes were left out of the Paleo diet.

Japanese Beef Curry

This article from Paleo Diet Lifestyle talks about how white potatoes may have a place on the Paleo plate. Also, Nom Nom Paleo’s eating them, so that makes it cool. Frankly, I’m tired of sweet potatoes right now so I picked gold ones for this recipe.

Japanese Beef Curry
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Stew
Cuisine: Japanese
Serves: 8
  • ½ lb of Carrots
  • 2 Gold Potatoes
  • 1 Fuji Apple
  • 1T Cooking Fat (lard, coconut oil, ghee)
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion, sliced.
  • 2 teaspoons of Fresh Ginger
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 lb of Cubed Beef
  • 1 quart of Beef Broth
  • 2 teaspoons of Kosher Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons of Butter/Ghee
  • ¼ cup of Tapioca Starch
  • 2 teaspoons of Curry Powder
  • 2 teaspoons of Garam Marsala
  • ¼ teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons of Coconut Aminoes or Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons of Ketchup
  • 1½ Tablespoons of Raw Honey
  1. Peel and slice the carrots into 1-inch thick half cylinders.
  2. Peel and slice the potatoes into 1.5-inch cubes. Soak them in water to remove extra starch.
  3. Peel and finely dice the apple.
  4. Heat 1T of cooking fat in a large pot.
  5. Cook the onions until translucent, then add the ginger and garlic.
  6. Add the beef and cook until brown.
  7. Add the broth, salt, carrots, and apple.
  8. Boil uncovered for 20 minutes, occasionally stirring.
  9. Add the potatoes and boil for 15-20 more minutes or until potatoes are soft.
  10. Prepare the Curry Roux while the potatoes are boiling.
  11. Melt the 3T butter/ghee is a saucepan over medium low heat.
  12. Add the tapioca starch and whisk until combined.
  13. Let heat for about 15-20 minutes with an occasional whisk, until roux turns light brown.
  14. Remove from heat and whisk in the curry powder, garam marsala, and cayenne pepper.
  15. Ladle a heaping ½ cup portion of the stew broth and mix in with the roux.
  16. Mix in the coconut aminoes, ketchup, and honey to the curry mixture and pour the contents into the rest of the stew.
  17. Adjust seasoning/honey to taste. You may add more starch til desired thickness.
  18. Serve with cauliflower rice or regular rice. Enjoy!
adapted from Just One Cookbook

Sharon’s Notes

  • Replacements for tapioca would typically be arrowroot starch. Though I had difficulty making a roux with arrowroot, arrowroot is an effective thickener.
  • I suppose you can use sweet potatoes if you really really want to. But it would probably be best to get the white sweet potato variety or the Japanese yams, not the orange kind. You may want to cut back on the honey.
  • You can also use yuca in place of the potatoes.
  • Coconut oil in place of butter/ghee? Sure. Never made a roux with coconut oil before, but I expect it to behave the same.

Japanese Beef Curry


  1. glace says

    Woah that’s a really dark sauce. Thanks for the roux tip with tapioca starch. I was going to try using rice flour. Do you know if rice flour works? Thanks.

  2. Whole30 says

    This is delicious and so easy! Made a few changes – omitted the honey, used tomato paste instead of ketchup and added mushrooms. Amazing!

    • Sharon says

      Awesome! Did you make the changes to be Whole 30 compliant! Good to know that a sugar free version works well, too!

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