Canned curry: love it or leave it?

Some people may celebrate Taco Tuesday, but our Japanese-language reporter Yayoi Saginomiya instead chooses to make it Spicy Tuesday. She loves spicy food and the way it refreshes her mind and body. Every time she eats something hot, it seems to clear the fog in her brain, light a fire in her soul, and burn away the daily strain of life, both physically and mentally.

It has also led to the distinct advantage of trying new foods on a frequent basis, which is always a win in our reporters’ books.

For example, she recently tried “Authentic Jasmine Rice & Green Curry”, a canned meal from Inaba Foods that includes not only rice and curry but chicken as well. Now you might be thinking, “A meal in a can? Gross!” But trust us. Japanese canned food can be surprisingly good–even something bizarre like oyster okonomiyaki.

When Yayoi dismantled the packaging of the Thai Curry and Rice, she found that the rice and the green curry actually came in separate cans. The canned green curry is also, she later learned, available for sale on its own, without the rice. But what’s curry without rice?

It was so easy to prepare. All Yayoi had to do was open the can of rice into a bowl, then pour the canned curry over the rice, and warm it up for one minute and 50 seconds.

The trouble was that the rice was completely stiff. Yayoi had to dig her spoon into the side of the can and pry it out, and when it finally popped out, it retained the shape and outlines of the can.

She had some doubts about whether just warming it up would make it taste good, but she faithfully followed the instructions and popped it into the microwave for the designated time.

To her surprise, the rice came out moist and fluffy! And after breaking up the clumps with her spoon, she couldn’t even tell it had come from a can.

In fact, the whole dish looked like something you could’ve made from scratch! No one would ever know you hadn’t if you didn’t tell them.

But now the most important thing…how did it taste? Yayoi loaded her spoon with curry and rice and took a bite. The curry had a nice, refreshing kind of heat, a flavorful blend of aromatic spices, and the sweetness of coconut, just as you would expect from Thai green curry. It also came filled with kaffir lime leaves, chili peppers, and hearty chunks of tasty chicken, which made Yayoi happy. She was genuinely surprised that curry that came from a can could be so delicious.

The jasmine rice, too, was surprisingly good. It did have a slightly crumbly texture, but still maintained a moist softness. It also lacked the delicious aroma of freshly cooked jasmine rice, but it was a strong competitor in texture and flavor.

Yayoi was completely satisfied, both in taste and fullness. The canned meal, though it looked small, supplied the perfect portion for one person, making this a great product to have on hand for when you’re too tired to cook dinner.

Inaba Food’s curry series is already pretty popular, but if you haven’t tried any, this is a great place to start. Yayoi gives it a four out of five for spice level, so if you don’t like spicy food this may not be for you. But if you do, definitely give it a try! Yayoi got hers from food shop Niki no Kashi for 318 yen (US$2.33) but it’s also available online on Amazon and Rakuten, so it’s pretty easy to find.

Besides canned curry, there are plenty of other tasty canned meal options, including canned sushi and canned bentos, so you can keep a stock of quick, shelf-stable meals in varying flavors without getting tired of eating them!

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