Nikujaga. It’s a classic Japanese homecooking dish- savory potatoes and beef that have been fast simmered in a sweetened soy sauce!
Nikujaga was actually invented by chefs of the Imperial Japanese Navy during the 19th century. The Japanese navy chefs were ordered to create a version of beef stew that the British Royal Navy were eating!
The potatoes are the star of the show. I really enjoy the texture – and breaking into them on a bowl of fresh rice. The beef then provides most of the flavor.
If you’re looking for a comforting but simple dish to make, this it!
I actually learned how to make this dish from my homestay family in Tokyo. She showed me a few tips which I’ll share with you know…
The first is to boil this fast and hard – on a high heat!
The foaming bubbles will create a natural lid that seals-in the flavor and aroma – making the vegetables taste great!
(Note: If you try to cook Nikujaga on a medium or low heat, the potatoes will boil in the pot for too long and turn mushy).
The second tip is to skim the residual scum off the top when it comes boil. This darker residual layer (shown below) is no good.
(And if you’re sensitive to that beefy smell, you can also add 1-2 Tablespoons of Mirim to the Soy Sauce – which will also help minimize it).
We have used beef in this recipe, but you can also use pork! Just make sure that it is thin-strips.
If the foam starts to spill over, reduce the heat slightly.
Add the green beans when there is about 2 cm of broth left over. Let it cook for 1 minute and turn off the heat.
And of course, don’t forget to start your rice cooker – we’re going to need a bowl of fresh rice!
Alrighty, I hope you enjoyed this recipe. Give it a shot and you’ll see why I love this dish.
Simple, tasty, comforting.
If you make this at home – tag us on IG. We’d love to see heh!
– Daniel out 🕺
- 2 Medium-Sized Potatoes (Each size of your palm)
- 1/2 whole Onion
- 1/3 whole Carrot (Length of your pointer finger)
- 5-6 Green Beans
- 100 grams Thinly Sliced Beef (Pork is ok too)
- 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Sugar
- Peel and cut potatoes into rough, large-sized pieces (don't make them too small). Cut onion (1/2 a whole) into thin slices. Cut carrot in half, then dice into smaller pieces as well. Trim the ends off the green beans and cut into smaller pieces.
- Now place the chopped potatoes, onions, carrots into a pot. Then carefully place a layer of the thinly cut beef on top of the vegetables.
- Pour enough water into the pot to barely submerge the ingredients (reference video).
- Then season the water with Soy Sauce (2 Tablespoons) and Sugar (1 Tablespoons).
- Place the pot on HIGH heat and bring it up to a boil.
- Once it starts to boil, use a soup ladle to scoop out the residual scum on the surface.
- Then let the broth reduce away - on high heat - until there is only ~2 cm of broth left in the pot.
- When there is about 2cm left, add in the green beans. Give it one final minute so it can cook through.
- Then turn off the heat. Plate and serve the dish with a bowl of hot rice!