In February of 1968, another breakthrough took place in the curry industry: packaged curry first appeared in stores, making it the first-ever kind of retort food. The technology of retort sterilization uses very high temperature and high pressure to kill bacteria and to sterilize food in plastic pouches. This way, anyone can buy a pouch of curry and just warm it up under hot water for a few minutes, or heat it in a microwave before enjoying it. Astronauts even eat Japanese curry in space, and curry retorts are now an officially recognized space food.
Today, the market for retort curries is still expanding. In some Japanese department stores, customers can choose among 300 varieties of curry, in a wide array of prices. Some are sold for only ¥200, while high-end kinds, such as curry from famous restaurants or those containing Japanese premium beef, can showcase a ¥1500 price tag. Regional specialties curry from different prefectures across Japan is especially popular, such as cherry curry from Yamagata prefecture, known for its orchards.
Curry in All its Forms
In addition of being served with rice, curry is also served over udon, as a dish called curry udon. It also comes in the form of curry bread, which is essentially a deep-fried pastry filled with curry, ubiquitous in most Japanese bakeries. Supermarkets and convenience stores also sell derived products and snacks, such as curry-flavored crisps and noodle soups.
Needless to say, curry rice is extremely popular all over Japan, and is now enjoyed by people all over the world… and even in space.