Nikujaga: Japanese Simmered Meat and Potatoes

Japanese nikujaga recipe

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 55 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
447 Calories
13g Fat
62g Carbs
21g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 447
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 17%
Saturated Fat 4g 19%
Cholesterol 38mg 13%
Sodium 1124mg 49%
Total Carbohydrate 62g 22%
Dietary Fiber 6g 22%
Total Sugars 14g
Protein 21g
Vitamin C 23mg 116%
Calcium 60mg 5%
Iron 4mg 22%
Potassium 1644mg 35%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Nikujaga quite literally translates to “meat and potatoes” - niku means "meat" and jaga means "potatoes" in Japanese. It's a comfort food and the Japanese version of beef stew. The beef in Nikujaga is added more for flavor than substance. This is a real workhorse of the Japanese home kitchen. It's high in energy, low on prep time, and very tasty.

The beef you use can be anything from ground chuck to short ribs; just make sure you use a cut with enough fat. Otherwise, the meat will get dried out. As the name implies, you need to add potatoes, but you can also add carrots and onions for color and flavor. Beyond that, you can add pretty much whatever you want.

Potatoes used in Nikujaga are anything you like. If you like soft and fluffy, use Russet potatoes. If you like smooth and creamy, use Yukon. Russet potatoes, because they are soft, tend to dissolve in the broth, but that makes this dish taste good, too.

Nikujaga is cooked in dashi because it adds umami (a savory taste), but low-sodium beef stock or even water would work fine. Dashi is an incredibly simple broth, and it forms one of the culinary cornerstones of Japanese cooking. It's made in about 10 minutes with just 3 ingredients: water, kombu (dried kelp), and bonito fish flakes. The resulting clear broth tastes like the essence of the sea.

Nikujaga is traditionally seasoned with soy sauce, sugar, and mirin which gives it a savory sweet taste, but you could have some fun here and season it with ginger, garlic, tomatoes, and herbs.

Like any stew, this is one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day, so make a big batch and enjoy the leftovers for a few days.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 6 ounces beef or pork loin, thinly sliced and cut into 2-inch lengths

  • 1 medium onion, cut into wedges

  • 1/4 pound carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces

  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

  • 1/2 package shirataki noodles, washed, drained, and cut into 3-inch lengths

  • 2 cups dashi soup

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons mirin

  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Japanese nikujaga
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a deep pot and sauté the meat on high heat until it changes color.

    Heat vegetable oil
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  3. Add onion, carrot, potato, and shirataki in the pot and sauté together.

    Add onion and carrot
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  4. Pour dashi soup and bring to a boil.

    Pour dashi soup
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  5. Turn down the heat to medium and skim off any foam or impurities that rise to the surface.

    Turn down heat
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  6. Add sugar, mirin, and soy sauce and put a drop-lid.

    Add sugar
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  7. Simmer until vegetables are softened.

    Simmer until vegetables soften
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  8. Serve and enjoy.

    Serve and enjoy
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

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