I want to share a family-style dish that you may not think of as Japanese but it is very popular in Japan, especially among young people. It’s the Japanese version of a curry, and you can easily find packaged squares of curry roux that are really a great little weeknight secret. Just look in the Asian section of your grocery store, and you might well find a product that looks something like this:
S & B is the most common brand to find, but I went to an Asian store and picked out a brand called Vermont Curry (apparently it gets its name from the apples!). The cubes melt into the pot, instantly becoming a rich, mild and slightly sweet sauce for anything you put it in. This is very different from Indian or Thai curries that blow your socks off. Just a soft curry flavor.
The classic Japanese curry uses potatoes, carrots, onions, and any meat you choose. Simply brown your ingredients in oil and add a stock of your choice just to cover. Simmer until the ingredients have reached the level of doneness that you desire. Then add roux squares and watch as the broth becomes a silky sauce. You can experiment with how many roux squares to use in order to get the sauce you want. Simmer for another 5 minutes and serve. Yum!
Update: It appears that very few regular grocery stores carry this type of product, so you may need to find your nearest Asian market if you’d like to try it.