It’s time again for one of my favorite posts, Movie and a Meal. I give you a great movie to watch and an equally awesome meal to eat while you view it. This go around it’s the classic 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice. The fifth film to star the best of the Bonds, Sean Connery, this film sends James Bond off on a mission to Japan to stop the destruction of both the American and Soviet space programs, and subsequently the world, by the evil SPECTRE led by Ernst Stavro Blofeld. People who know me well should be incredibly surprised that it has taken this long for me to do a Bond film for a Movie and a Meal or that I would even take the time to vaguely describe the plot of the film. Personally, I think it is good enough to look anyone that has never seen the films in the eye, tell them it is Sean Connery in a movie as James Bond, and if they watch the whole thing and don’t like it, then they’re a filthy soulless Cold War era Communist who’s best bet in life is to burn painfully in hell. I grew up on these early James Bond films, and really, who can hate a movie with tiny personal helicopters, sports cars, ninjas, and cigarettes that shoot tiny missiles.
I have chosen to pair this film with a dish that I equally love, Japanese Golden Curry. I know immediately the first word that sticks out in your head, curry. Most people associate the word curry almost instantaneously with overwhelming heat, but, in the case of Japanese curry, this is not so. The heat from these dishes compares in no way to those of their Indian counterparts and for most Americans the heat is barely noticeable. The Japanese do not want or appreciate that kind of heat, which makes this dish perfect for curry beginners.
Normally I choose a dish that is featured in some way in the film. This one is not. I can however make a claim that if Bond spent any amount of time in Japan, as he does in this film, he would have eaten and enjoyed this dish. Golden Curry is so popular in Japan that it is eaten nearly once a week in most Japanese households, is the standard Friday meal in the mess hall of the Japanese Navy, is a favorite cafeteria meal of Japanese school children, and is reported to be the single favorite meal of the Emperor of Japan.
The best part of this dish is that its main component, the flavorful sauce in which your meat and vegetables are bathed, comes easily available in a box in many US supermarkets, so you don’t have to make it from scratch. Actually, making golden curry from scratch is in no way authentic or even traditional Japanese. Seriously most people in Japan just use the same premade curry spice roux that can be found in most large US supermarkets. There are a number of popular brands but the most common, and the only one I have been able to find in my area, is S&B Golden Curry sauce mix. Just to prove my point that finding the sauce mix isn’t hard, I have found S&B mix in the Asian food section of our local Walmart. Walmart people. Walmart. It doesn’t get any easier than that.
Japanese Golden Curry follows a pretty solid list as far as its ingredients go. For meat, you can use either chicken or beef. I prefer to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs. As far as vegetables go, the usual fare is onion, carrot, and potato. I usually omit the potatoes since the curry is usually served over rice, and starch on starch is not something I find too healthy. If you feel the need to put something in place of potatoes, try some nice crimini mushrooms or adding in some frozen peas right at the end. You really can’t mess this up, and to be honest this is just a good stew that watched “This Is Spinal Tap” and turned its flavor up to 11. Oh crap, I just brought in a second movie!
Japanese Golden Curry
1 ½ – 2 lbs Boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
2 large Sweet onions, Vidalia if you can get them, chopped medium fine
2 Garlic cloves, finely minced
2 14.5 oz. cans Sliced carrots, drained
1 package S&B Golden Curry Sauce Mix, medium hot is the most common and the preferred
2 ½ cups Water, as required by the S&B mix
2 Tb Olive oil
2 Tb Unsalted butter
Salt and Pepper to taste
Bring the olive oil up to high heat in a large non-stick skillet. Season your chicken with salt and add it to the pan. Cook it until it is lightly browned and cooked through. When it is done remove it from the pan, and reserve it on a plate. Add in the onions. When they first go in they will look like they are too much. I know, two whole large onions seems ridiculous, but they will cook down. Reduce your heat to medium/ medium high. We don’t want to scorch or burn the onions. You are looking to caramelize them and this can take time. It is, however, worth it as caramelizing them will provide the sweetness that is very essential to the curry as a whole. When the onions have taken on a light tan color, add in the garlic and the butter and continue cooking until the onions are a nice deep brown. When the onions have reached a nice deep caramel brown, add in the water, stir, and bring everything up to the boil. At this point, add in the curry mix, block by block, stirring the whole time. As you stir, the curry will begin to become quite fragrant and begin to thicken. When all the blocks have dissolved and the sauce has begun to come together, reduce the heat to low. Add in the cooked chicken, the carrots, and anything else you may like veggie wise and allow it all to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Serve over rice and enjoy.
If you have any questions or have anything that you’d like featured in a future post on The Renaissance Beard , don’t hesitate to contact me or leave it in the comments.