Loosely translated, nikujaga means ‘meat with potatoes,’ and it is precisely these two ingredients that the dish is based on. It is a kind of stew with the addition of other vegetables, mostly root vegetables, and often also konnyaku. It is seasoned with soy sauce, Japanese cooking wine – mirin and sake.
The cooking time of this thick soup is short because the meat is finely sliced. It is usually beef, with pork being more common in the eastern part of Japan.
The dish is believed to have become a permanent element of Japanese cuisine due to the Navy. Admiral Tōgō Heihachiro wanted to introduce British standards to the fleet and decided to feed his soldiers with the beef stews so popular with Englishmen. Japanese cooks used the available ingredients to prepare a Japanese version of the stew, which is often served and immensely popular to this day.
• about 3-4 potatoes
• 1 onion
• 1 carrot
• handful green beans
• 200 g finely sliced beef
• 1 pack shirataki noodles
• 2 tablespoonful sesame oil
• about 350 ml stock
• 2.5 tablespoonfuls soy sauce
• 2.5 tablespoonfuls mirin
• 2.5 tablespoonfuls sake
• 2 tablespoonfuls brown sugar
• 1 tablespoonful sesame seeds
Prepare the vegetables. Slice the onion finely and the carrot coarsely. Quarter the potatoes. The Japanese additionally use the mentori technique – they smooth out the sharp potato edges with a knife to prevent potatoes from falling apart while being cooked. Soak the potatoes in water to remove starch. Cook shirataki in accordance with the instructions on the packaging.
Heat up sesame oil in the pot and fry meat slices for about 1 minute. Add onion, carrot and potatoes to the meat and keep frying for a little while. Add noodles, pour in the stock, season with soy sauce, wine, sake and sugar. Put beans on top and boil. Reduce the heat and put on a lid. Do not stir the dish at this point – let it simmer. About 10 minutes later, take the lid off and let the liquid evaporate. The dish is good when the meat and the vegetables are soft. Nikujaga is usually served with rice and sprinkled over with sesame seeds.
Originally, the dish is covered with otoshibuta – a wooden lid. It is unique in its diameter being smaller than the diameter of the pot used to prepare the dish so that the heat spreads evenly and the ingredients are done sooner.
SMACZNEGO! ITADAKIMASU! いただきます!