How to Make Nikujaga (Meat and Potato Stew)

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There is nothing more comforting than a one-pot dish when the temperatures drop and winter is fast approaching. I loved cooking this recipe when I lived in Japan as it reminded me a little of an Irish stew. There were days I just craved potatoes and this recipe seemed like the perfect fusion between Irish and Japanese food.

I found the traditional Japanese nikujaga (meaning meat and potatoes) recipe a little sweet so I’ve adjusted it slightly and reduced the level of sweetness. For this recipe, use whatever vegetables are in season or in the bottom of your fridge at home. Thinly sliced beef is traditionally used, but I’m using beef mince as I love the way it absorbs the sweet and savoury flavors of the sauce. It’s also filled with umami (flavor) from the broth so you’ll feel completely satisfied after eating this dish.

nikujaga-mainNikujaga Beef and Potato Stew

Serves 3–4

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil (植物油( shokubutsu abura))
  • 1 large onion (150g), peeled and roughly chopped (タマネギ( tamanegi))
  • 250g good quality beef mince (挽き肉( hikiniku))
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (生姜( shoga))
  • 1 large carrot (150g), peeled and roughly chopped (ニンジン( ninjin))
  • 2 large potatoes (400g), peeled (ジャガイモ( jagaimo))
  • Roughly chopped blanched green beans to serve (いんげん( ingen))
  • Boiled rice with peas to serve

For the broth

  • 500ml dashi (だし) See recipe for dashi
  • 80ml soy sauce (しょうゆ( shōyu))
  • 2 tablespoons sake (料理酒( ryorishu))
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (みりん)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (砂糖( satō))

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan on a medium to high heat.
  2. Add the onion and fry for a minute or so. Then add the beef mince and ginger and continue to fry for a few more minutes.
  3. Toss in the carrot and potatoes.
  4. Mix all the ingredients for the broth together in a large bowl and then add to the saucepan.
  5. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer.
  6. Using a ladle remove any foam that floats to the top of the water. Cover with a lid and cook on a low heat for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through.
  7. Serve in a bowl and top with thinly sliced blanched green beans, accompanied by bowls of boiled rice with peas.

Tip

If you want to freeze this dish you should remove the cooked potatoes first as they don’t freeze well.

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Japanese food writer and author of “Japanese Food Made Easy”.

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