Nikujaga, Japanese Meat and Potato Stew

Nikujaga, Japanese Meat and Potato StewNikujaga is Japanese comfort food.  In Japanese Niku is meat and Jaga is short for Jagaimo, or potato.  Meat and potatoes, you couldn’t ask for anything more comforting.  Every household in Japan has their own version of Nikujaga, some are on the sweet side and others a little more salty.  This is a dish I grew up eating at home and I loved my Mom’s Nikujaga the most.  She has a way of taking a dish, putting her own twist on it and making it better.  I was going to wait until Fall to post this recipe but I had a serious craving the other day and decided to make Nikujaga.  Of course I had to share the recipe with all of you.  Who cares if it’s Summer right?

Some Nikujaga I have tried in Japan are a little too sweet for me.  Many Japanese Nimono (Japanese stewed dishes) recipes overdo it on the sugar but my Mom’s Nikujaga was always perfect so I modeled my Nikujaga after hers.  She always used beef rib eye Sukiyaki meat (some like to use pork) and added a little garlic, very different than the norm.  I do the same in my recipe.  I also love to add carrots which add a nice color and of course are very good for you.  Even kids who aren’t particularly fond  of carrots will usually eat the carrots in Nikujaga.  It’s all that yummy juice absorbed by each vegetable and giving them such fantastic flavor.  Who wouldn’t like that?  This dish goes great with brown or white rice and is also a great Izakaya dish served alone with sake, wine or a cocktail.

Nikujaga, Japanese Meat and Potato StewIngredients:  (4 Servings)

1 Tablespoon Canola oil
1 Tablespoon Sesame oil
3/4 pound thinly sliced beef rib eye (Sukiyaki meat)
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
3 carrots, peeled and quartered
2 yellow onions, cut in half and sliced (I use Spring Onions when in season)
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 cups chicken stock (homemade, organic or natural if possible) or water
1/4 cup sake
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tablespoons mirin
3 Tablespoons sugar

Nikujaga, Japanese Meat and Potato StewPreparation:

In a large, heavy bottom-pan, add both oils and over medium high heat, add beef and separate slices carefully, without breaking the meat up.  Sauté until slightly brown but not completely cooked.  Add potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic and gently mix with beef, making sure all vegetables are coated with the beef juices Nikujaga, Japanese Meat and Potato Stewand oil, about 2-3 minutes.  Deglaze the pan with the sake then add stock, soy sauce, mirin and sugar.  Bring to a boil and remove any scum that forms.

Reduce heat to low, add a Japanese wooden drop lid or make one out of aluminum foil (see photo) and continue to cook, stirring every 5 minutes, until carrots and potatoes are fork tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.  Divide between four dishes or put on a large platter and serve family style.

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Nikujaga, Japanese Meat and Potato Stew
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Tablespoon Canola oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Sesame oil
  • ¾ pound thinly sliced beef rib eye (Sukiyaki meat)
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 3 carrots, peeled and quartered
  • 2 yellow onions, cut in half and sliced (I use Spring Onions when in season)
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups chicken stock (homemade, organic or natural if possible) or water
  • ¼ cup sake
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons mirin
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
Instructions
  1. In a large, heavy bottom-pan, add both oils and over medium high heat, add beef and separate slices carefully, without breaking the meat up.
  2. Sauté until slightly brown but not completely cooked.
  3. Add potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic and gently mix with beef, making sure all vegetables are coated with the beef juices and oil, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Deglaze the pan with the sake then add stock, soy sauce, mirin and sugar. Bring to a boil and remove any scum that forms.
  5. Reduce heat to low, add a Japanese wooden drop lid or make one out of aluminum foil (see photo) and continue to cook, stirring every 5 minutes, until carrots and potatoes are fork tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Divide between four dishes or put on a large platter and serve family style.

 

Comments

  1. This is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods! I’m with you though, too often it is made on the sweet side. I am definitely going to try adding some garlic next time I make our nikujaga (which will probably happen within the next few days, since now you’ve got me craving it)!

  2. Oh.. I will have to try this in the fall when it’s nice and cold!

    • Thank you for the comment Sheri! Nikujaga is great any time of year. I just let it cool down a little so it’s not piping hot and it’s perfect, even in the Summertime.

  3. I love nikujaga!! I haven’t had it in forever!! Now you’ve got me craving it!!!

    • Haha! Yes I had a craving too (must’ve been Seattle’s cool July) and had to have it. I love Nikujaga year-round! Thank you for your comment.

  4. Yum! I am making this the first cool evening we have.

    You really are doing a wonderful job at showing how varied Japanese food is. I think a lot of people are intimidated by it and you are doing a great job of showing how accessible it really is. Well done Shirley.

    • Thank you very much! I try to show people that Japanese cooking can be very simple and anyone can do it. I love it when people tell me how easy a recipe was and they’d make it again. I want people to be comfortable with the ingredients 🙂

  5. Konichiwa !What beautiful photos and what a delicious, yet simple dish ! I love how the meat looks so good! I will try this recipe soon. I’m sure it’s terrific. Thanks for sharing !

  6. Dean Guest says:

    Shirley, thank you for sharing this recipe…it is so delicious!!

  7. Kathreen says:

    I’ve never tried it but i’ll make sure i will 🙂

  8. I had a girlfriend from Tokyo who used to make this kind of stuff when I lived in Hawaii. Now that I’m back in the northeast, the nights are getting colder and I’m craving this. This kind of cuisine was invented for cold nights. Correct me if I’m wrong, but home style Japanese would allow for this to be sort of hybridized with a sukiyaki? Whatever was available back in the day, or whatever is on sale nowadays.

    Most people (americans) have heard of sushi, some have heard of Tempura, but not too many have heard of nabemono.
    That combination of shoyu, sake, mirin, and sugar never fails to blow the minds of the uninitiated.
    Anyways, I missed my window to go buy the sake, so this’ll have to wait till tomorrow, looking forward to browsing the rest of your site.
    Thanks

    • Thank you so much for the comment and so sorry for the late reply! My site usually emails me each comment but I never saw yours until today when I happened to look at this recipe. I hope you enjoyed the nikujaga 🙂

  9. Great recipe. My first time making it I use hon dashi and water. Turned out delicious. Thanks

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