Thinly-sliced beef simmered with potatoes, shirataki noodles, and onion in savory dashi broth, Nikujaga or Japanese meat and potato stew is an iconic home-cooked dish in Japan.
Hi everyone! We’re back to the US and had a great time in Japan! We’re trying to recover from jet lag and get back to our regular routine (which is really hard to do with the kids!). I want to thank my readers and blogger friends for visiting my site to check the guest posts while I was away, leaving kind comments for my lovely blog sitters, and visiting their blogs. This time I was especially delighted to share my close male blogger friends because they are all amazing home chefs that I wanted to introduce to my readers! Food blogs tend to be dominated by female bloggers but there are definitely lots of great male bloggers who are talented with both cooking and photography.
I also want to thank my fans and readers for your kind messages and emails while I was in Japan. I haven’t had enough time to respond to everything yet but I promise I’ll get to all of them, please give me a bit of time. I apologize in advance for my late correspondence.
My trip to Japan was great – lots of great food and family time. I was really happy that my children got to spend a lot of time with my parents. Although I planned to take pictures of famous and popular places and introduce to my readers what it is like to live in Japan, I realized it’s quite difficult to bring my small children who were on jet lag to crowded places and not to mention, lots of walking… My children are so used to being driven everywhere by cars and most places I wanted to visit are still too young for them (or boring for them). As they get older, I’m sure we have more chances to visit different places in Japan and I hope to share my experiences with you then. I am planning to write a post (or posts) about my trip with some pictures – hopefully, I can start working on it as soon as my family gets back to our normal routine!
Today I’m guest posting at Pinay in Texas Cooking Corner. The person behind this amazing Filipino food blog is Tina, who lives in Texas now but was raised in the Philippines. She’s a wonderful mom to her two children and makes amazing meals at home. She makes really cute bento (lunch box) for her daughters every day and shares a lot of great tips on how to make them on her blog. But my big admiration goes to her skills being able to pull off a big party with all homemade food! I told her many times I don’t know how she’s able to pull them off but she just does it. She has a variety of recipes from appetizers to a lot of wonderful main meals, and not to mention delicious desserts. She covers it all.
This month Tina has launched a new series on her blog called Pinay in Texas Cooking Corner’s Favorite Dishes from Around the World and today she’s featuring my recipe. Guess what her favorite Japanese food is? It is Nikujaga.
Nikujaga (Japanese: 肉じゃが) literally means “meat and potatoes”, from two of the main ingredients niku (meat) and jagaimo (potatoes). It’s comfort food for the Japanese and it is a very popular meal cooked at home. It is often considered as “mother’s taste” meal (“ofukuro no aji” おふくろの味 in Japanese) as each household cooks it just slightly different. The food itself is very simple and homely, and the warm bowl of your mother’s nikujaga brings one back to their roots. It is probably the most popular dish among all kinds of nimono (煮物 Japanese stewed dishes).
It’s the Japanese version of beef stew; however, it contains a fairly small amount of meat. The meat is added for flavor rather than substance, just like most of the Japanese cooking. It is simmered in the classic Japanese seasonings of soy sauce, sake, mirin, and sugar.
Unlike Western stews, the simmering time is much shorter because nikujaga uses thinly sliced meat. Beef is commonly used for this dish but in eastern Japan, pork is more popular.
Nikujaga (Japanese Meat and Potato Stew)
- 1 onion
- ½ carrot
- 2 Yukon gold potatoes
- ½ lb thinly sliced beef (chuck or rib eye) (it can be thinly sliced pork)
- 1 package shirataki noodles (7 oz, 200 g)
- 2-3 pieces snow peas (you can also use green beans or green peas)
- 1 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, rice bran, canola, etc)
- 2 cup dashi (Japanese soup stock; click to learn more)
- Gather all the ingredients. Cut the sliced meat in half about 3 inch (7.6 cm) wide..
- Make dashi if you haven't already. There are different types of dashi, but the most standard one is kombu + katsuobushi dashi called Awase Dashi. Today I used a short-cut method to make dashi using a dashi packet. You can find the instruction here.
- Cut the onion into 10-12 wedges. Peel the carrot and cut the carrot lengthwise in half if it is a very big carrot. Then cut it 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces using "rangiri" cutting technique.
- Cut the potatoes into quarters and smooth the edge of the potatoes. We call this Japanese cutting technique "mentori". We do this extra step to prevent them from breaking into pieces. If the pieces have sharp edges, then they are likely to break easily during cooking. Soak the potatoes in water to remove starch.
- Remove string from snow peas and cook them in boiling water for 30 seconds and take them out.
- Drain shirataki noodles from the package. Then cook shirataki noodles in boiling water for 1 minute to remove the unwanted smell. Drain and cut in half.
- In a large pot, heat oil on medium heat and sauté the onion.
- When the onion is coated with oil, add the meat and cook until no longer pink.
- Add the potatoes, carrots, and shirataki noodles.
- Add dashi and seasonings, and bring it to a boil.
- Once boiling, using a fine-mesh skimmer, skim the scum and foam. Make sure all the ingredients are flat and just covered by the dashi.
- Place an otoshibuta (drop lid) or make one with aluminum foil, and simmer on medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked. The otoshibuta is necessary to maintain the shape of the vegetables being stewed. Do not mix the ingredients while cooking; the otoshibuta will help the flavor circulate automatically. Turn off the heat and discard the otoshibuta. Ideally, let it stand for 30 minutes before serving. The flavors will soak into the ingredients while cooling down. If you don’t have time for this, it’s also okay.
- When you reheat the nikujaga, pour the soup on top of the ingredients with a spoon a couple of times. Check the flavors for the last time. When it’s almost ready, toss in the snow peas to warm them up. When ingredients are heated through, it’s ready to serve.
- You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container or in the pot and store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Nikujaga tastes even better on the second day! To freeze, remove the potatoes as they change the texture when frozen.