That Spicy Chick

Japanese Pork Belly Curry

This rich and savory Japanese Pork Belly Curry is easy to make with store-bought Japanese curry roux cubes, wonderfully spiced, and tastes delicious with steamed rice! It’s made with thinly sliced pork belly meat, carrots, potatoes, and is Japanese comfort food at its best!

Close-up top view of Japanese curry with pork, carrots, potatoes on a plate with rice.

Do you love Japanese curry? I do! 🙋‍♀️ 😋

I mean, who can resist a rich and savory curry that is spiced and seasoned to perfection, and full of tender meat, potatoes, and carrots? All you need is some steamed rice and you’ve got yourself a delicious, satisfying, and comforting meal!

The great news is that you can easily make Japanese curry at home with some store-bought Japanese curry roux cubes.

I’ve used thinly sliced pork belly meat (hotpot/shabu shabu style meat) in this curry. It’s the same one I use in my Japanese Pork Rice Bowl (Butadon) recipe, and is melt-in-your-mouth DELICIOUS! 🤤

If you’re not into pork, see below for protein swaps. But if you are, give this tasty and comforting Japanese Pork Belly Curry a try! I think you’re going to love it!

Close-up front view of Japanese curry with pork, carrots, potatoes on plate with rice.

Why This Recipe Works

  • It’s easy to make on any given weeknight, and ready in 40 minutes from start to finish.
  • Using store-bought Japanese curry roux cubes gives you the perfect flavor, and makes this a low-effort dish.
  • Tender thinly sliced pork belly (shabu shabu style meat) tastes delicious in this curry, and melts in your mouth!
  • Honey and apple juice naturally sweeten the curry, while garam masala, fresh red chilies, and ground cayenne add warmth and spice.
  • The curry consistency and spice level can be customized to suit your preference.

Ingredients

Labeled ingredients for Japanese Pork Belly Curry on a wooden board.
  • Pork: I’ve used thinly sliced pork belly (hotpot/shabu shabu style meat), and cut the pieces into bite-sized strips. You can find this in packages at Asian supermarkets and Japanese groceries stores.
  • Oil: I’ve used peanut oil, but any neutral flavored oil such as canola or vegetable oil will work.
  • Red Chilies: I add some hot Bird’s Eye chilies to spice up the curry, but any hot red chilies will work. If you’re not big on heat, leave them out or use less for a milder curry.
  • Veggies: Just some carrots and potatoes. While I’ve used some small Japanese potatoes, which are softer than western potatoes, you can use Yukon Gold or Russets instead if preferred.
  • Water: I use water instead of broth to make this curry because it gives you better control over the saltiness of the curry. (Japanese curries can be rather salty, especially if using store-bought curry roux cubes.)
  • Japanese Curry Cubes: I used the large S&B Golden Curry Roux cubes and highly recommend this brand! They’re available in various spice levels – Mild, Medium, Hot, and Extra Hot. If you are not big on heat, I recommend using the Mild or Medium curry cubes. If you like your curries to be on the spicier side, try the Hot or Extra Hot one. My family loves the flavor of the Extra Hot curry cubes, so that’s what I use in my home. I should note that I don’t use the entire 7.8 ounce / 221 grams package for one curry dish, and prefer to add additional seasonings to flavor the curry instead.
  • Apple Juice and Honey: Japanese curries often incorporate grated apple to help sweeten their curries and balance out all the salty flavors. Some curry roux cubes have apple incorporated already in them. Since the S&B curry cubes don’t, I’ve added apple juice (without added sugar) to naturally sweeten the curry. It’s way simpler than having to fuss with grating an apple, and does the job well! I also add honey to sweeten the curry, and you can use more or less to taste.
  • Japanese Sake: This is a Japanese cooking wine and can be found in Asian supermarkets. It adds depth of flavor, but you can leave it out if you prefer not to cook with alcohol.
  • Spices & Seasonings: Kosher salt, black pepper powder, garam masala, and ground cayenne. Adjust salt to taste, and use a little less than half the amount if using iodized table salt. You may find that you’ll need less or more salt than what I’ve used if you’re using a different brand of Japanese curry roux cubes. While store-bought garam masala will work, I highly recommend using a homemade garam masala because it makes the curry taste so much better! It’s very easy to make, and you can add it to your Indian food or other recipes to add TONS of flavor. Adjust the level of ground cayenne to taste, or omit it if you want to make this curry milder.
  • Double Concentrated Tomato Paste: To add some bold and rich tangy flavors.
  • Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce: For savory umami notes.
  • Corn Starch Slurry: Although the curry roux cubes have flour in them and will thicken the curry, I add a corn starch slurry to further thicken the curry since I don’t use the entire package of curry roux cubes. Feel free to use more corn starch in the slurry if you prefer an even thicker curry consistency.
  • To Serve: Chopped spring onion (scallion) for garnish, and some warm steamed rice.

Full ingredient list and amounts are in the recipe card below.

Close-up front view of curry with pork, carrots, potatoes on a plate with rice.

How to Make Japanese Pork Belly Curry

  1. Sauté onion and aromatics. Use a wok or deep heavy bottomed frying pan and sauté the onion in some butter and oil until softened. Then add the ginger, garlic, and red chilies and sauté until fragrant.
  2. Cook the pork. Push everything to the side of the wok, then add the pork. Stir-fry until no longer pink, then toss to combine with everything else.
  3. Add the veggies. The carrots and potatoes. Sauté until slightly softened.
  4. Stir in water. Cover the wok and simmer until the carrots are tender.
Steps to make Japanese Pork Belly Curry - sautéing and simmering steps.

5. Stir in the curry cubes. Turn the heat down to low, and stir until the cubes have fully dissolved.

6. Add seasonings. Turn the heat back up to medium-low and stir in the apple juice, Japanese sake, all the spices & seasonings, double concentrated tomato paste, honey, and low sodium light soy sauce. Simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom.

7. Add cornstarch slurry. Mix together water and cornstarch in a measuring cup until combined well, the pour in the cornstarch slurry. Stir to combine, then simmer for another minute until the curry further thickens. Then switch off the heat.

8. Serve! Garnish with chopped spring onion, then serve immediately with warm steamed rice and enjoy!

Steps to make Japanese Pork Belly Curry: stirred in curry cubes, adding seasonings, adding cornstarch slurry.
Side view of diagonally placed plate with Japanese pork curry and steamed rice.

Full detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.

Cook’s Tips

  • Make sure the heat is set to low before stirring in the curry cubes. Or remove the wok/pan from the heat. Since the cubes contain wheat, lumps can form when trying to stir them into a pot of boiling liquid. They will dissolve more easily when the wok is over low heat (or not over a direct heat source), and the mixture in the wok has cooled down slightly.
  • Select your desired heat level for the curry roux cubes. I use Extra Hot, but that’s because I love things to be very spicy! If you’re not big on heat, opt for the Mild or Medium curry cubes.
  • Adjust the curry consistency to your desired preference. Add more corn starch to the corn starch slurry for a thicker curry, or less if you’d like the curry to be on the thinner side.

FAQs

What are Japanese curry cubes?

Japanese curry roux cubes are bricks made with curry spices and seasonings, wheat flour, fats, and MSG. They are sold in packaged boxes, and you can break off the cubes from the brick and dissolve in water to easily make Japanese curry at home. Popular brands include S&B Golden Curry, Java Curry, and House brand’s Vermont Curry. They come in varying heat levels (Mild, Medium, Hot, and even Extra Hot if using the S&B Golden Curry brand).

Where to buy Japanese curry cubes?

Japanese curry roux cubes can be purchased at almost all Asian supermarkets and specialty Japanese ingredients grocery stores.

How many Japanese curry cubes to use?

Package instructions vary for how many cubes to use. It also depends on if your package has the small or large sized curry cubes. The recipe here calls for four large Japanese curry cubes, and makes 6-8 servings. I’ve added additional spices and seasonings to make the curry more robust and flavorful than if one were to only use the curry cubes.

Top view of pork curry on plate with rice and curry in wok.

Variations

  • Use a different protein. You can use 454 grams / 1 pound of diced or boneless and skinless chicken thighs (or breasts), sliced flank steak, or sliced pork tenderloin instead of the thinly sliced pork belly if you wish. I recommend seasoning the meat with salt and pepper, then cooking it first in a tablespoon of oil in a wok or pan. Transfer to a clean bowl, and add the meat back into the wok after dissolving the curry cubes.
  • Make it vegetarian/vegan. Omit the meat, and add crispy pan-fried tofu cubes or fried tofu puffs after stirring in the curry cubes. You can also add more veggies such as cauliflower, bell pepper (any color), snap peas, broccoli, etc. Also, make sure that the brand of curry roux cubes you’re using are vegetarian/vegan. S&B Golden Curry brand curry roux cubes are 100% vegetarian/vegan.
Close-up top and front view of plate with curry and rice. Text overlay "Japanese Pork Belly Curry", "Easy 40 Minute Recipe", and "thatspicychick.com"

More Asian Curries


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Top view of pork curry on plate with rice.

Japanese Pork Belly Curry

A rich and savory Japanese Pork Curry made with melt-in-your-mouth thinly sliced pork belly, carrots, and potatoes. It’s easy to make with Japanese curry roux cubes, wonderfully spiced, and irresistible with steamed rice!

  • Author: Lavina
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Simmer
  • Cuisine: Japanese
Scale

Ingredients

  • 454 grams / 1 pound thinly sliced Pork Belly (hotpot/shabu shabu style meat) – cut into bite-sized strips
  • 2 TBLS Unsalted Butter
  • 1 TBLS Peanut Oil (or canola or vegetable oil)
  • 1 medium Yellow Onion – thinly sliced
  • 2 TBLS grated Ginger
  • 10 Garlic cloves – minced
  • 616 Red Chilies (I used Bird’s Eye, but any hot red chilies will work), to taste – chopped
  • 2 small (200 grams / 7 ounces) Carrots – small diced
  • 3 small (270 grams / 9.5 ounces) Japanese Potatoes – diced (or use Yukon Gold or Russets)
  • 4 cups / 946ml Water
  • 4 large Japanese Curry Cubes (110 grams / 3.9 ounces) – cut into quarters
  • ½ cup / 118ml Apple Juice (no sugar added)
  • 2 TBLS Japanese Sake
  • 3 TSP Kosher Salt, to taste (use a little less than 1.5 TSP if using table salt)
  • 1 TSP Black Pepper Powder
  • 1.5 TSP Garam Masala (homemade garam masala preferred)
  • 1.5 TSP ground Cayenne, to taste
  • 4 TBLS Double Concentrated Tomato Paste
  • 4 TSP Honey, to taste
  • 2 TBLS Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce
  • ½ cup / 118ml Water + 1.5 TBLS Corn Starch – mixed together to make a slurry
  • To Serve: Chopped spring onion (scallion), steamed rice

Instructions

Prep:

  1. Prepare the ingredients: Cut the thinly sliced hotpot/shabu shabu style pork belly into bite-sized strips. Prepare the yellow onion, ginger, garlic, red chilies, carrots, and potatoes as indicated in the ‘Ingredients’ section. Mix ½ cup of water and 1.5 tablespoons of cornstarch in a measuring cup (or small bowl) until evenly combined and a slurry has formed.

For the Japanese Pork Belly Curry:

  1. Sauté onion and aromatics: Heat the unsalted butter and peanut oil in a large nonstick wok or deep heavy bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot and the butter is frothing, add the yellow onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until softened. Add the ginger, garlic, and red chilies and sauté for another minute until fragrant.
  2. Cook the pork: Push everything to the side of the wok and add the pork. Stir-fry for 1-2 minutes until no longer pink, then toss to combine with everything else in the wok.
  3. Add the veggies: Add the carrots and potatoes and sauté for a minute until slightly softened. Then pour in the 4 cups of water and stir to combine. Cover the wok and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.
  4. Stir in the curry cubes: Uncover the work and turn the heat down to low. Add the curry cubes and stir continuously until fully dissolved – about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Stir in seasonings. Turn the heat back up to medium-low and stir in the apple juice, Japanese sake, kosher salt, black pepper powder, garam masala, ground cayenne, double concentrated tomato paste, honey, and low sodium light soy sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the wok.
  6. Add cornstarch slurry: Give the cornstarch slurry a quick stir with a spoon (the corn starch will have settled at the bottom). Then pour it into the wok and stir to combine. Simmer for 1-2 minutes, until the curry further thickens. Switch off the heat.
  7. To Serve: Garnish with chopped spring onion and serve immediately with warm steamed rice.

Notes

  1. Pork. Hotpot/shabu shabu style thinly sliced pork belly meat is available at Asian supermarkets. You’re welcome to use shabu shabu beef or even lamb if you prefer.
  2. Japanese Curry Cubes. I used S&B Extra Hot Curry Roux Cubes, but you can use Mild, Medium, or Hot curry cubes based on your heat level preference. Look for Japanese curry cubes in Asian supermarkets or a speciality Japanese ingredients store.
  3. Japanese Sake. This Japanese cooking wine can be found in Asian supermarkets. It adds depth of flavor, but you can leave it out if you prefer not to cook with alcohol.
  4. Spice level. Omit or use less fresh red chilies and ground cayenne based on your spice level preference.
  5. Protein swaps. You can use 454 grams / 1 pound of diced or boneless and skinless chicken thighs (or breasts), sliced flank steak, or sliced pork tenderloin instead of the thinly sliced pork belly shabu shabu style meat if you wish. I recommend seasoning the meat with salt and pepper, then cooking it first in a tablespoon of oil in a wok/pan. Transfer to a clean bowl, and add it back into the curry after dissolving the curry roux cubes in step 4.
  6. Make it vegetarian/vegan. Omit the meat, and add crispy pan-fried tofu cubes or fried tofu puffs after stirring in the curry cubes. You can also add more veggies such as cauliflower, bell pepper (any color), snap peas, broccoli, etc. Also, make sure that the brand of curry roux cubes you’re using are vegetarian/vegan. S&B Golden Curry brand curry roux cubes are 100% vegetarian/vegan.
  7. Curry consistency. Feel free to add more cornstarch (2-3 tablespoons) to the cornstarch slurry if a thicker curry consistency is desired.
  8. Storing and reheating leftovers. Store leftovers in a sealed airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat on high in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, stirring once in between, until hot throughout. 

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 serving
  • Calories: 678
  • Sugar: 14.9g
  • Sodium: 1672.8mg
  • Fat: 37.7g
  • Saturated Fat: 5.9g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 3.3g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 41.4g
  • Fiber: 4.6g
  • Protein: 9.8g
  • Cholesterol: 10.2mg

The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

This post may contain affiliate links. We are a part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

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