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Sonoko's Japanese Curry Bricks

Originally published in Sonoko Sakai's latest cookbook 'Japanese Home Cooking: Simple Meals, Authentic Flavor

3 large curry bricks

Sonoko's Japanese Curry Bricks

This recipe for buttery curry brick comes from the cookbook author and teacher Sonoko Sakai, who wanted a homemade alternative to the industrial, store-bought cubes that make the thick, spicy sauce for Japanese curries. Sakai wanted to avoid palm oil, preservatives and artificial ingredients, so her version starts with whole toasted spices, ground into a fine powder and stirred into a gently browned roux of butter and flour. Feel free to play with the spice proportions — increase the chile powder for a hotter curry or the kombu for more sweetness. No matter how you tweak it, the best part about Sakai’s recipe is that it makes enough for several meals, and you can store the extra curry bricks in the fridge or freezer, so you’re ready to make a curry whenever you like (see Tip at the bottom of the recipe for instructions).

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Time: 45 minutes 


note: if using Sonoko's Japanese Curry Brick Kit, this recipe uses the whole kit. The 3 bricks (made in the loaf pans) are then cut into 9 small cubes                            (1 tbsp curry powder = 1 curry cube = curry for 4 adults)


  • 1 ½ cups/340 grams unsalted butter (3 sticks)
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour



  1. In a large skillet, toast cinnamon, bay leaf, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, cloves and cardamom pods over medium heat, stirring until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn the spices. Transfer the toasted ingredients to a spice grinder.
  2. Add the mushroom, kombu and peppercorns to the spice grinder, and grind at the highest speed for 30 seconds. Shake the grinder a couple of times as you blend to make sure the cinnamon stick is pulverized. (You can also grind the spices in batches, if necessary.) Transfer the pulverized spices to a small bowl. Add the orange zest, turmeric, ginger, sea salt, paprika and cayenne pepper.
  3. To make the roux, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When the butter is nearly melted, lower the heat to medium-low. Gradually whisk in the flour, and cook, stirring constantly, until the roux turns light brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Be careful not to burn the roux. Turn off the heat, add the spice mix and stir until well combined.
  4. Divide the mixture among three mini aluminum loaf pans, adding about 3/4 cup per loaf pan, or transfer the entire mixture to a parchment-lined quarter-size sheet tray. Let cool for a few minutes at room temperature, then transfer to the fridge so the bricks can solidify. Once firm, unmold, cut each brick into 9 small curry brick cubes (or, if using a sheet tray, cut the mixture into 27 pieces total) and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for about a month or in the freezer for 3 months.


To make a Japanese curry, heat 4 tablespoons of light sesame oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 chopped white onion, 1 chopped carrot, 1 peeled and quartered potato, 2 minced garlic cloves and about 1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken thighs cut into bite-size pieces. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Add 4 cups chicken stock, and simmer for about 15 minutes, then add 3 small curry brick cubes, and simmer gently until the curry has thickened, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with miso, soy sauce, sake and minced fresh ginger, and serve over hot rice.

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