Instant Pot Japanese Curry Chicken is delicious, healthy, budget-friendly and perfect for a cold wintry night. I tasted my first Japanese style curry as a graduate student at Columbia University. Growing up, my mom made curry chicken that had coconut milk in it. I’m not sure if it was a Chinese or Filipino version, or perhaps a combination of both. Only after I left home did I start discovering that there are so many other kinds of curry dishes out there.
I finally broke down and bought an Instant Pot 9-in-1 on Black Friday. I have a stove-top pressure cooker, a rice cooker and several slow cookers, so I was hesitant to buy yet another small appliance. But, curiosity got the best of me and I had to see for myself if the instant pot was indeed a worthwhile investment. This Instant Pot Japanese Curry Chicken was the first recipe on my list to try.
The Japanese curry I was introduced to in graduate school was made using a block of curry roux and seasoning that can purchased at Asian grocery stores. Although it is very easy to use, the ingredients include caramel coloring, MSG and other chemicals. So, I decided to try making Japanese curry chicken from scratch based on two different recipes from Tadashi Ono’s Japanese Soul Cooking cookbook. The traditional Japanese curry recipe requires you to make a roux from butter and flour. The more contemporary Japanese curry depends on a large amount of cooked-down onions to help had some heft and thickness to the curry. How clever.
I chose to try onions as the more contemporary thickener for this Instant Pot Japanese Curry Chicken since the entire cooking process from sauteeing the onions to cooking the curry could be done in the Instant Pot.
It’s important to have all your ingredients prepped before starting this Instant Pot Japanese curry chicken recipe (although you will have 15 minutes to prep while the onions are cooking).
First, I set the Instant Pot on “Saute” and added some oil to the pot. It took about 4 minutes to heat up (the pot will read “Hot” when it is hot enough to start sauteeing). Once the pot was hot, I added a lot of thinly sliced onions (red, white or a combination will work). Let the onions cook for about 15 minutes or until they start to brown on the bottom.
Add garlic, ginger and boneless chicken thigh chunks to the pot and saute a few minutes.
Add carrots, potatoes, shredded apple (for natural sweetness), and curry powder (I used a Japanese curry powder called S&B Curry Powder). Toss to mix, then add 5 cups of chicken broth and mix well. Hit the “Cancel” button.
Set the Instant Pot to “Meat/Stew” and set the timer to 15 minutes. Once the timer is done, the instant pot will automatically switch to “Keep Warm”. At this point, you can either let the Instant Pot depressurize naturally, or quick release the pressure by turning the steam release handle to the “Venting” position.
I found the onions did not thicken the curry as much as I had hoped, so I used a cornstarch slurry to further thicken it. This was done with the Instant Pot on the saute setting.
Instant Pot Japanese Curry Chicken brought back memories from my graduate school days. It is pure comfort food, and has tons of sauce/gravy, so enjoy drinking it as is, or serve over steamed rice as is traditionally done.
Initial Thoughts On Instant Pot
I’ve only made a few recipes using the Instant Pot (including spareribs, carnitas, and hard boiled eggs which all came out great), but I already know one feature that is helpful: the sauté setting. The sauté setting allows you to sauté aromatics right in the pot before using the pressure cooker or slow cooker setting. With a regular slow-cooker, I usually sauté aromatics and brown meats in a separate pan on the stove-top before adding them to the slow cooker.
I also like the fact that you can set the timer and the instant pot will shut off automatically and keep food warm after it’s done cooking. Unlike my stove-top pressure cooker, I can walk away from the kitchen and not worry about turning the stove off.
The Instant Pot does take some time to heat up on the sauté setting, as well as to heat the contents up to temperature before the pressure cooker timer kicks in (about 15 minutes), but this is only an issue if you are really in a hurry.
As a frequent pressure cooker and slow cooker user, I can see the Instant Pot replacing both of these appliances. However, the instant pot I bought has only a 6-quart capacity, so for larger meals, I will still need my big slow cooker.
I haven’t tried using the Instant Pot to cook rice yet, but that’s next on my list. I love my rice cooker, so I’m curious to see if the results will be just as good. Either way, I will probably continue making rice in my rice cooker since I will most likely be preparing the main course in the Instant Pot at the same time.
Instant Pot Japanese Chicken Curry
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 pounds onions about 5 medium onions, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon ginger finely minced
- 5 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs cut into 1" pieces
- 3 large carrots cut into 1/2" pieces
- 1 pound potatoes peeled, cut into 1/2" pieces
- 1 large apple grated
- 4 tablespoons Japanese curry powder use a little less if you don't like a spicy curry
- 5 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons water
Sauteeing To Start Curry
Turn Instant Pot to "Saute" setting. Once pot is hot and reads "On" add onions. Cook for about 15 minutes until onions start to brown on the bottom of the pot. Add ginger, garlic and cut-up chicken. Saute another minute or two. Add carrots, potatoes, apple, curry powder, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Stir to mix well.
Press "Cancel" to stop saute process.
Pressure Cooking Curry
Press "Meat/Stew" and set timer to 15 minutes.
After timer goes off, either let Instant Pot naturally depressurize, or quick-release by turning steam release handle on the lid to "Venting" setting.
To thicken curry, mix together cornstarch and water. Turn Instant Pot to "Saute" mode. Stir in cornstarch slurry and cook a few minutes until curry thickens.
Adapted from Japanese Soul Cooking by Tadashi Ono
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