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“Nikujaga”: A Hearty Side Dish Costarring Meat and Potato

Yukimasa Rika [Profile]

[2018.02.21]

Nikujaga is, as its name suggests, meat (niku) and potatoes (jagaimo) stewed together. It’s one of the signature dishes of the modern Japanese kitchen; a chef who cooks nikujaga well knows the way to his or her partner’s heart, it was once said. Either beef or pork can be used. If thinly sliced meat is unavailable at a local store, just cut a slab of steak or other meat into small slices.

Ingredients (serves 2–3)

  • 200 g thinly sliced beef (pork can also be used)
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 small carrot
  • Snap peas for garnish, as desired
  • About 200 ml water
  • Four-quarter sauce:
    • 2 tbsp sugar
    • 2 tbsp mirin (sweet cooking sake; if not available, increase sugar and sake to 3 tbsp each)
    • 2 tbsp soy sauce
    • 2 tbsp sake

Directions

  1. Peel and quarter the potatoes. Peel the onion and cut into six wedges. Peel the carrot and chop into bite-size pieces, about half the size of the potatoes.
  2. Put all the vegetables and sauce ingredients in a pot and place on heat.

(© Nippon.com)

  1. Simmer until the potato and carrot are tender.

(© Nippon.com)

  1. Blanch the snap peas in salted water, then drain. Arrange the nikujaga in a bowl and sprinkle the peas on top for a dash of color.

Cooking Tips

  • With an ideal balance of meat and vegetables, nikujaga is a staple dish in Japanese home cooking.
  • Nikujaga typically also includes the noodle-like ito konnyaku, made from konnyaku, konjac potato. This recipe does without the ingredient, however, as it can be hard to come by overseas.
  • Thinly sliced meat may not be readily available at your butcher’s shop. If thinly sliced beef is not available, cut a slab of steak or other meat into slices, and then chop up into smaller pieces.
  • If using pork instead of beef, choose a fatty cut, such as pork belly. Lean meat will toughen as it cooks.
  • The snap peas are added for color. For a delicate finish, cut them lengthwise to expose the insides.

(Originally written in Japanese with editorial assistance by Usami Rika and published on December 18, 2017. Photos by Natori Kazuhisa, except where otherwise noted.)

  • [2018.02.21]

Culinary expert; chief executive officer, REKIDS. Born in 1966 in Fukuoka Prefecture. Graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. After returning to Japan, found work as a commercial producer with Japanese advertising giant Dentsu and began writing cookbooks on the side. At age 42, left Dentsu to start up her own online education business. Has appeared on the NHK World cooking show Dining with the Chef since 2011. Yukimasa has published more than 50 cookbooks, which have sold upwards of 800,000 copies and have been translated into Chinese and Korean. Author of Reshipi no iranai washoku no hon (Japanese Cooking Without Recipes), Konya wa ienomi (Drinks at Home Tonight), and many other works.

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