Nothing says comfort food quite like Nikujaga (肉じゃが). Literally meaning “meat and potatoes”, nikujaga is an easy to prepare, inexpensive, and hearty dish. It consists of a light potato stew enhanced with meat, onions, shirataki noodles, and a variety of seasonal vegetables. The ingredients are boiled together in a flavorful dashi stock.
Nikujaga likely originated in 19th century Kyoto, when chefs of the Imperial Japanese Navy were ordered by admiral Heihachiro Togo to create a beef stew like those commonly prepared in England, where the admiral had studied for many years. However, ingredients used by the English to create their beef stews were not common in Japan, so the navy chefs were left to improvise a new version of the stews using common Japanese ingredients. The resulting Japanese-style beef stew, dubbed nikujaga, began to appear in Navy cookbooks across Japan. Since then, the recipe has trickled down from the hands of navy chefs to the kitchens of families across Japan.
If you would like to try preparing this beloved Japanese dish, look no further!
“Nikujaga”, Japanese-style Beef and Potato Stew Recipe
Ingredients (Serves 4)
- Sliced beef or pork (200-250 g)
- Onions (2, whole)
- Carrot (1/2)
- Large potatoes (4)
- Shirataki noodles (1 pack)
- Grated ginger (1 tsp)
Ingredients for dashi stock
- Sugar (2-3 tbsp)
- Cooking sake (2-3 tbsp)
- Mirin (2 tbsp)
- Soy sauce (3 tbsp)
- Cut the peeled potatoes into 4-6 pieces. The pieces should be bite-sized, but not too small. Think hearty! Soak the pieces of potato for 5 minutes and drain well.
- Peel the onions and slice into 1 cm thick pieces. Cut the carrots, and meat into bite-sized bits. Cut the shirataki noodles into 10cm lengths.
- In a frying pan, heat oil on medium. Add the onions, carrot bits, meat slices, and grated ginger. Stir fry until the meat browns. Add the potatoes, shirataki noodles, and continue to stir fry for a few more minutes.
- Add the dashi stock (sugar, sake, mirin, soy sauce) to the pan. Cover with a lid and simmer until the potatoes are ready.
- Serve the nikujaga with a bowl of white rice and miso or ton-jiru soup. Enjoy!
Note: the ingredients used in this recipe are common nikujaga ingredients, but feel free to add or remove ingredients to your liking and to experiment with the recipe. This recipe first started as an experiment, after all!