JOKER - Coffee Curry Udon Soup
Updated: Jul 19, 2021
In the popular JRPG Persona 5, Ren – A.K.A “Joker” – is a transfer student at the elite prep school Shujin Academy. He lives in a coffee shop called Café Leblanc, owned by family friend Sojiro Sakura, which serves as the main hub of the game. One of the signature items served at Café Leblanc is curry, which eventually Sojiro teaches Joker how to make. Curry is also an item that can be used to recover SP in dungeons. So, for Joker's recipe, I decided to make Japanese-style curry, also known as kare raisu! This type of curry is sweeter than a typical Indian curry, thanks to the inclusion of grated apple and honey. It is enjoyed as an easy home meal by families all across Japan, and is typically made with a store-bought “curry roux” – you can likely find Japanese curry roux in any Asian or international supermarket, but for this recipe I decided to make the roux from scratch!
I included one secret ingredient that sets this apart from typical Japanese curry: coffee! After all, it wouldn’t be a Café Leblanc-inspired dish without coffee. In Persona 5, Sojiro insists that eating a bowl of curry with a cup of coffee is the perfect pairing. Well, I thought I’d take it one step further and include some coffee in the spice mixture itself! Coffee is sometimes included in other spicy foods such as chili, so I thought it might work – turns out it tastes great! The coffee adds a deep, rich, earthy complexity to the curry. It might sound weird but it really works!
Instead of serving the curry over rice, I made it into a soup, in the style of kare udon! I figured a spin on the classic ramen noodle would be appropriate for Joker’s college student lifestyle in Persona 5.
3 tbsp unsalted butter
4 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 ½ tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp garam masala (you can make your own blend by combining 1 tsp dried coriander, 1 tsp cumin, ½ tsp cardamom, ¼ tsp cloves, and ¼ tsp cinnamon)
1 tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½-1 tsp cayenne pepper (if you want it spicy)
1 ½ tbsp instant coffee
2 tbsp vegetable or coconut oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 medium-large carrots, chopped into bite-size pieces
2-3 medium-large potatoes, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 apple, peeled and grated
2 tbsp honey
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups water
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (or a similar tangy, umami sauce such as tamarind sauce if you want the dish to be fully vegetarian)
Ramen or udon noodles
Soft-boiled eggs, for serving
Chopped green onion, to garnish
For curry roux:
Melt butter in a small saucepan. When completely melted, stir in flour to form a thick roux.
Remove from heat. Add curry powder, garam masala, cayenne pepper, turmeric, nutmeg, and coffee. Stir until fully combined and mixture resembles a thick paste. Set aside.
Heat vegetable oil in a large pot. Cook garlic and ginger over medium heat until fragrant. Add onion and cook until softened and caramelized, 10-20 minutes.
Add carrots and potatoes and cook for a few minutes. Add grated apple and honey and mix so the vegetables are fully coated.
Pour in broth and water and bring to a boil. Season with a generous pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
Stir in curry roux, tomato paste, ketchup, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Lower to a simmer and allow to cook until potatoes and carrots are fork tender.
Add udon noodles to the soup. When the noodles are fully cooked, serve with half a soft-boiled egg and chopped green onions.
TOP TIER TIPS:
This recipe can easily be made vegan with a couple of substitutions – simply use vegan butter in the roux, use vegetable broth rather than chicken broth, omit the Worcestershire sauce (which contains fish), and leave out the egg!
If you want to add a protein (chicken or beef is a good choice!), simply add cubes of the meat at the same time the potatoes and carrots go in!
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