We finally made some good rice in a dutch oven today. I was a little disheartened by previous failures, but I knew that it could be done because the Japanese have been cooking rice over a fire for centuries.
Heat! You want heat! I have a 10″ cast iron pot with a lid. It’s not a “camp” dutch oven (with the legs and a rim around the edge of the lid). I set the pot on a wire trivet with charcoal packed underneath. If you have a dutch oven, it’s more convenient. Today all the dutch ovens were being used to cook other things.
Put two cups of water in the pot.
Bring the water to a boil. Be patient, as it make take a while.
After the water is boiling, add one cup of rice.
Bring to a boil again, then remove all the charcoal except a ring.
Cook until done.
If the water isn’t hot enough at the beginning, the rice will turn to mush with a hard core — really gross.
Note that we cook with the short grain Japanese rice, which turns out a little sticky. It’s perfect for using chopsticks. I’ve not cooked the “fluffy” American long-grain rice for over a decade, so I can’t comment on that.
While curry may not be a native Japanese dish, the Japanese have adopted it and given it their own flair. There’s no “standard” curry. People use it as a gravy base to which they’ll add many things: corn, potatoes, carrots, onions, you name it. They will put it on rice, udon (noodles), or bread. In this spirit, you can use this recipe as a base. Play with it. Experiment. Have fun with it.
Note that meat is optional. I prefer a good curry without meat. If the curry needs meat to taste good, it’s not a good curry… in my opinion.
2008-12-21 Update: I reworked this article slightly, including altering the recipe.
Yes with preparation
One 12″ dutch oven
Walla Walla (sweet) onion
garlic (I use four)
pounds pork, chicken, or beef cut into small cubes. One may omit this for vegetarian style
Golden Curry roux (8.4 oz)
baby carrots, split length-wise
potatoes, sliced thin
large green bell peppers
cottage cheese (optional)
plain yoghurt (optional)
Bag #1: Finely chop garlic. Slice Onion thinly. Put into zip lock bag with butter.
Bag #2: Meat. Put into zip lock bag.
Bag #3: Vegetables. Put into zip lock bag.
Bag #4: Cheese and yoghurt. Put into strong zip lock bag or other suitable container.
Put garlic, onion, and butter into dutch oven to start cooking. Cook until onions are transparent.
Add water and curry roux. Heat until it starts to boil. Roux will dissolve at this point.
Add other vegetables. Cook until meat is done.
Add yoghurt and cheese mixture. Cook until cheese has melted, and potatoes are cooked.
Serve over white rice.
As always, please be aware that these are my personal notes. I may be verbose in places to remind myself of particular points on chemistry or methodology.
Note that the cottage cheese and plain yoghurt will tone down the spice tremendously. I used the hot curry roux, and it came out relatively mild. Yoghurt is not Japanese per se, but it does add a nice flavour.
There may be debate over whether this is “real” Japanese curry because it doesn’t have potatoes or corn, and it has yoghurt. I’m not going to argue. I’ve not had Japanese people protest.
This recipe is works for camping if you prepare ahead of time. Put things in zip-lock bags. This will reduce the mess of trying to prepare food at camp. If you camp in bear country like we do, minimizing food spillage is critical for not turning your camp ground into a bear magnet.
The sauce needs the mixture to be brought to a near boil. If the temperature isn’t high enough to break the chemical bonds, it’ll remain soupy. When it thickens, it should happen fairly quickly.
We had a partially successful meal tonight. I switched charcoal brands today. (I wrote about “no more cheap charcoal” earlier.)
I prepared a main dish, bread, and dessert.
Japanese curry with pork on rice.
Jalapeño cheese corn bread.
12″ sugar cookie.
The curry came out excellent. I cheated on the rice and used my Zōjirushi. I have had no successful dutch oven rice yet and chickened out.
The bread was a little overcooked. I should have checked it when I switched the bottom coals to the top (after 20 minutes), rather than waiting until after the full 30 minutes. This dutch oven has been sticking a little. It looks like time to re-treat the dutch oven.
Failure. I was flying by the seat of my pants here. I had too much top heat and not enough bottom heat. The top was cooked to perfection but the bottom was essentially uncooked.