Looking for a well-balanced pressure cooker recipe? Try Nikujaga, a comforting Japanese home cooked dish, featuring sliced meat, vegetables & potatoes simmered in dashi broth.
Ever since I fell in love with pressure cooking foods using my Instant Pot, I’ve been trying to convert some of my favorite stove up recipes to pressure cooker recipes. Today I’m sharing a classic Japanese home cook dish, Pressure Cooker Nikujaga (圧力鍋で作る肉じゃが).
Watch How To Make Pressure Cooker Nikujaga 圧力鍋で作る肉じゃがの作り方
Nikujaga (肉じゃが) is the classic Japanese mom’s home cooked dish deliciously prepared using a pressure cooker (Instant Pot) in 15 minutes!
What is Nikujaga?
Nikujaga, or Meat and Potato Stew (I’m not fond of the translation much), is one of the classic Japanese “mother’s recipes”. I have a regular non-pressure cooker Nikujaga recipe here. Do you have dishes like that in your cuisine? We call this type of dishes “ofukuro no aji (おふくろの味)”. It means the flavors/tastes that you are used to and feel nostalgic about, after eating mother’s cooking for years.
Nikujaga is a staple dish to many Japanese. My dad likes potato dishes, so my mom made Korokke and Nikujaga often in her meal rotation when we were growing up. Nikujaga for me is definitely true comfort food.
Simple 4 Ingredients
Niku (肉, にく) in Japanese means meat. Jaga is a shortened word from Jagaimo (ジャガイモ), which means potatoes in Japanese. So Nikujaga always includes meat and potatoes.
Usually, potatoes and thinly sliced beef or pork are simmered in dashi based soup, seasoned with the standard Japanese condiments – soy sauce, sake, mirin (and sometimes sugar).
Besides meat and potatoes, there are onion and carrot. These four ingredients are almost always in any variety of Nikujaga.
To add some color to this mostly-brown-dish, one type of green vegetables is tossed in at the end, typically green beans or snow peas. Some recipes include shirataki noodles, but they are optional.
Helpful Tips for Pressure Cooker Nikujaga Recipe
I want to share some helpful tips that you can consider implementing when you make this recipe.
Sautéing for Intense Flavors
Sautéing foods first just like you would usually cook on the stovetop adds extra tastes. So spend several minutes to brown the meat and vegetables, before adding other liquids and cooking under pressure.
Cutting Ingredients in Smart Way
Different ingredients require its own cooking time for the ideal texture and flavor in a pressure cooker. Ideally, for pressure cooking, you want to add and cook ingredients at different time intervals. This is especially true when mixing different type of foods (meat, potatoes, vegetables, etc.). You should start with ingredients that take a long time to cook, such as meat. When it’s halfway through, you can release the pressure, then add harder vegetables. Pressure cook till halfway the cooking time, release pressure and add the rest of softer vegetables that will require less time.
Well, that’s the ideal method; especially if you’re cooking a big chunk of meat and some vegetables.
However, I don’t have the time to release the pressure between adding different ingredients since I’m usually not at home when the food is being cooked.
So here’s my tip if you are in the same situation as me. Cut the meat into smaller chunks. Luckily many Japanese recipes require thinly sliced meat, like this Nikujaga recipe. If you are cooking a bigger cut of meat, then cut the vegetables slightly bigger than you would usually cut for conventional cooking. That way, the required time to cook each ingredient will be similar.
Remember, you can go back and cook the food longer if necessary while overcooked, mushy food cannot be saved!
Why Pressure Cooker Nikujaga?
My family and I love Nikujaga. I enjoy the smell of cooking while it’s on the stove. However, I got busier with my work (blogging) and kids’ after-school activities, and I couldn’t find the time to cook Nikujaga anymore. We all missed eating our favorite Nikujaga.
Thanks to the Instant Pot, Nikujaga started to appear on our dinner table once again. Although I would rather stay around in the kitchen watching my Nikujaga being cooked, the best part about Instant Pot is that I can actually leave the house while food is being pressure cooked. I am not worried about the house being on fire or not having dinner when we go home.
P.S. Just so you know, my Instant Pot recipes are not sponsored by the company. Although they did send me this Instant Pot to try, I’m sharing my recipes because I am very passionate about this cool gadget that could help you make fantastic meals on weeknights.
To quickly explain, this Instant Pot is a 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Cooker. It can be a rice maker/porridge maker, steamer, sauté/browning, yogurt maker, and warmer, but I mostly use the pressure cooker and occasionally slow cooker function.
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Pressure Cooker Nikujaga
- 10 green beans
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 2 potatoes (I use Yukon gold potatoes as they don't break easily compared to Russet potatoes)
- 1 package shirataki noodles (7 oz, 198 g)
- ½ lb thinly sliced beef (chuck or rib eye)
- 1 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, rice bran, canola, etc.)
- ⅛ tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 cup dashi (Japanese soup stock; click to learn more)
- 3 Tbsp mirin
- 2 Tbsp sake
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- Gather all the ingredients.
- Cut the green beans in half or thirds, and bring water to a boil in a small saucepan.
- Blanch the green beans for a few minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.
- Cut the onion into wedges then cut them in half.
- Peel and cut the carrot into rolling wedges (We call this cutting technique “Rangiri”).
- Peel and cut the potatoes into quarters and soak them in water for 10 minutes to remove starch.
- Open the shirataki noodle package and drain the liquid. Cut the shirataki noodles into thirds (or shorter length).
- Cut the thinly sliced meat into smaller pieces.
- Press the “Sauté” button on your Instant Pot (I use 6 QT Instant Pot) and heat 1 Tbsp vegetable oil.
- When the pot is hot, saute the onion. When the onion is coated with oil, add the meat and stir all together.
- Add the potatoes and carrots. And add the shirataki noodles.
- Add 1 Tbsp sugar, 1 cup (240 ml) dashi, 3 Tbsp mirin, 2 Tbsp sake, and 3 Tbsp soy sauce.
- Cover and lock the lid. Make sure the steam release handle points at “sealing” and not “venting”. Press the “Keep Warm/Cancel” button on the Instant Pot to stop sauté. Press the “meat/Stew” button to switch to the pressure cooking mode. Press “minus” button to change the cooking time to 15 minutes.
- If you’re using a stove-top pressure cooker, you won’t have the buttons to press. Just cook on high heat until high pressure is reached. Then reduce the heat to low but maintain high pressure for about 15 minutes.
- When it is finished cooking, the Instant Pot will switch automatically to a “Keep Warm” mode. Slide the steam release handle to the "Venting" position to let out steam until the float valve drops down, OR let the pressure release naturally (takes about 15 mins).
- Unlock the lid and taste the Nikujaga. If necessary, season with kosher salt. Toss in blanched green beans to heat up a little, and transfer to a serving dish.
- You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer for a month. Potatoes will change their texture, so I recommend removing them first before freezing.