If you are a fan of curry or spicy food in general, you can find a curry restaurant in almost every corner of Japan. However, the Japanese curry is different from the regular curry in taste and preparation. Curry is usually eaten with white rice, but you can also find curry-based ramen and other dishes. For every dish, the curry preparation is tweaked a little bit. In Japan, there are hundreds of curry varieties you can find in restaurants and supermarkets. One of which is the “black curry,” the darkest of them all, which is very unique and delicious.
“Norikuro” translates to “black laver” in English. Laver is nothing but a type of seaweed used in dishes that turns black when completely dry. It is grown in Japan, mainly at the mouths of rivers where the river meets the sea.
You can find norikuro in any Japanese supermarket or online on Amazon. It is usually sold in small bottles as processed paste with a smell of yuzu (a type of Japanese citrus fruit) and flavor of spice. If you cannot find it in any store, you can try walking into a traditional Japanese pickle shop; they usually have different pastes, pickles, and seasoning stuff.
Norikuro is used to give soups or broths a seaweed flavor. You will be given norikuro paste along with soy sauce and wasabi when you order any seafood such as sushi. However, it is usually already there as a sushi topping.
If you want to try norikuro curry, you must head to Kumamoto (熊本) in Japan. The coastal side of Kumamoto has many estuaries where nori is grown.
Norikuro curry is made by simply adding norikuro paste to the curry base and cooking the mixture. It makes the curry a bit thick with a fragrance of nori, however, the taste is exceptional with an overwhelming flavor of curry. Nori enhances the taste of the curry and this dish is usually eaten with plain rice.
It is very easy to make this type of curry as all you need to do is to buy norikuro paste from a store and use it. Curry is usually brown in color, but it changes to black when norikuro is added to it.
Nori works like a gem for seasoning not only in curry but also in ramen, sushi, and other dishes. It is a common Japanese household item and you must have it in your kitchen. You can also give norikuro as a souvenir to anyone as some brands sell it in attractive packaging.
Squids are largely consumed in Japan and its derived products, such as the squid ink, are very popular. Squid ink is black edible ink harvested from squids. Squids squirt this ink from their skin pores to scare off predators. You can also buy squid ink at any food store in Japan or online.
If you do not like the flavor of seaweed, you can replace norikuro with plain squid ink. You can add squid ink to normal Japanese curry and it will turn pitch black. However, do not put too much squid ink into your curry as it might taste metallic due to the iodine present in it. If you can’t find squid ink, you can use cuttlefish ink instead to achieve a dark brown color.
Now that you know how to make black curry at home, do not forget to try it with your friends as it can be special because of its color and taste.