I realized that I never, ever did a post on nikujaga.
That’s like, the most quintessential Japanese dish. Ever.
So here you go.
Nikujaga literally translates to meat and potatoes. It was invented in the late 19th century by the chefs who worked in the Imperial Navy. Apparently some important admiral dude wanted to eat a beef stew he had in England, and told the chef to make him one. The chefs had never had beef stew (beef was relatively new to Japanese cooking at this time) and came up with their own version with what they heard from the Admiral. The more you know! (insert imaginary glittery rainbow)
Recipes differ from household to household, but most people use beef because that’s traditional. My mom likes to add slippery bean noodles and green beans to make it a more complete meal.
Me? My ass is broke, I only had taters.
adapted from Japanese Food Basics PLUS ONE, Autumn-Winter; published by ESSE
For every 1/2 pound of sliced or “broken” meat…
1 large onion
3-4 small potatoes
2 tbsp sake
2 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
Prep: Quarter potatoes and soak in water (peel them if you want). Slice onions. Mise out flavor components.
I like to use waxy potatoes for niku-jaga because if you use starchy guys like Russets they tend to disintegrate into oblivion, resulting in a sloppy mess.
First you take your meat and brown it a bit.
Like I said, most people use beef. But since the name of the dish is meat and potatoes, I assume that you can use any terrestrial animal protein. I use pork because I like the taste or pork better than beef. ALSO, I did this with chicken once, chicken was pretty bomb too.
Add onions and cook until soft.
Add potatoes, then almost-cover with water. Bring to a boil, swirl in the sake, then let simmer for 10 minutes.
Make sure to skim off the foam!
Add sugar and soy sauce. Shake gently so that everything goes in the braising liquid.
When the liquid goes down to half the original volume, you can add green beans or noodles or what not, then keep reducing. If you’re going Spartan, just reduce to a third. Then eat with some rice.
If you really want to go broke ass style, try marinating some peeled, soft boiled eggs in the remaining braising liquid. Like, for half a day. Make sure to shake it around every once in a while so that you don’t just marinate the bottom half of your eggs. Then eat it with some sweet potato shochu on the rocks. It will lead you to the path of minor alcoholism.
Thanks for reading!