Introduction: Japanese Curry Buns (Kare-Pan)
We eat lots of Japanese style curry and rice at home. It's delicious, filling, quick, and easy to make a big pot full that lasts for several meals. The only problem is that, after a couple of days of curry in a row, we get tired of it but there is still a bunch left over. So when no one wants one more lunch of curry and rice we use the leftovers to make a tasty curry buns that make it easy to finish off the whole pot. We make this dish with leftover curry but it will work beautifully with thick stews, casseroles, or sauces--anything that you made too much of!
Step 1: Scrounging for Supplies...
You will need the following to make curry buns (or any substitutions you think of):
- Leftover curry (I suppose you could make curry for the express purpose of making these buns, but leftovers from home or takeout work just fine)
- Dinner roll dough (I have included a recipe here but feel free to use your own recipe, or frozen/tubes of dinner rolls from the grocery store)
- Panko style bread crumbs (You can find these in the Asian section of most grocery stores or if you are adventurous you can make your own.)
- Oil (any kind will do but if you use olive oil for the awesome monounsaturated fats I would recommend the light variety so it has a lighter flavor)
- Baking pan (cookie sheet etc)
- A place to cool hot bread
- Rolling pin
- Plastic wrap
Step 2: Optional: Make the Dough From Scratch
Here is a recipe for handmade dinner roll dough but feel free to use a recipe (or pre-made dough) that you love (especially if it involves a breadmachine for ultimate ease!).
160 grams flour
1 teaspoon dry yeast
1.5 tablespoons sugar
2/3 teaspoon salt
100mL warm water
1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Once they combine to form a rough ball knead the dough for 10 minutes.
2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until it has increased in size 1.5-2X.
3. Remove the dough from the ball and release the gas by lightly folding the dough on itself.
4. Using a knife cut the dough in half and then cut each half in thirds giving you 6 equal(ish) pieces.
5. Form the pieces of dough into balls, cover with the plastic wrap (use the same piece from before!), and let rest for another 10 minutes.
6. Use the dough to make yummy curry buns!
Step 3: Adding Good Things to Small Packages.
Now it's time to make the rolls into curry buns.
- If your curry (or whatever) is too watery you can use potato flakes to thicken it to a paste-like consistency.
- First roll out each ball of dough into a circle. It's important to roll the dough out so that the center is much thicker than the edges. (Just think about sunny side up eggs as you are rolling and you won't go wrong)
- Place a 1-2 tablespoons of curry in the center of the dough circle. (Now's the time to add some cheese if you want to.)
- Carefully pull up the sides of the dough making sure not to get curry on the edges. Pinch the edges together and make sure there are no gaps and that the dough is evenly distributed.
Step 4: Finishing Touches and Into the Oven.
- Dip the top side (the opposite side to the pinched edges) in oil and then into the panko bread crumbs pressing down to help stick crumbs firmly to the top.
- Place the buns pinched side down on your cookie sheet, cover them with plastic wrap, and let them rest/raise for 20-30 minutes.
- After they have risen pop the buns into a preheated 375F oven and bake them for 12-15 minutes.
Step 5: Finish Baking and Let Them Cool.
When the bread crumbs have browned nicely and the crust is a dark golden color your buns are done! Pull them out of the oven and let them cool for a few minutes. This may be the hardest part of the whole process--forcing yourself to wait until the curry inside is a less-than-scalding temperature before devouring the fruits of your labors!
Step 6: Time to Eat!
These buns are best still warm but they make great lunches and snacks and they can be frozen for later (if they last long enough to be frozen!). The sky is the limit for the variations to this recipe. Of course you can swap out the filling but you can also change up the cooking method (we sometimes coat the whole bun in panko crumbs and fry the dough into curry filled savory donuts) and toppings to fit any taste. Good luck experimenting with your leftovers and let me know about your successes so I can try them next!