Literally “meat and potatoes”, the recipe for nikujaga could be considered Japan’s answer to spaghetti bolognese. A light, simmered dish of meat, potatoes and a few other ingredients, every family will make its own version and have its own opinion on how nikujaga “should” be made. It’s such a common dish, it even used to be considered a way to flirt in Japan: if a single man asked a single woman if she could make nikujaga, it would imply that he was considering what kind of wife and mother she would be. This quantities for this recipe are to serve four or six people as part of a shared meal.
- 150 g shirataki (see note)
- 300 g wagyu beef sirloin, thinly sliced and cut into 6 cm lengths
- 400 g potatoes, peeled and cut into irregular chunks
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into irregular chunks
- 1 onion, cut into 1 cm-thick slices
- 15 snow peas
- steamed rice, to serve
- 250 ml (1 cup) dashi
- 2 tbsp sake
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 60 ml (¼ cup) soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sugar
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To prepare the shirataki, rinse under cold running water and drain well. Bring a small saucepan of water to a rolling boil, then add the shirataki. Boil for 5 minutes, drain and set aside.
To make the nikujaga stock, combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Add the beef and cook through for just a few seconds or until the beef changes colour. Remove the beef from the pan, cover the beef and set aside.
Return the stock to the boil and skim off any foamy scum that rises to the surface. Add the potato and carrot and cover with a drop lid or baking paper cartouche. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the onion and shirataki. Replace the drop lid or cartouche, and simmer for a further 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the liquid is nearly completely evaporated. Stir through the beef, cover again and allow to cool.
To serve, blanch the snow peas in boiling salted water for 1 minute. Reheat the nikujaga, and stir through the snow peas. Serve with rice.
• Shirataki are konnyaku (or konjac) jelly threads or noodles. You can buy them at Asian grocers, but they are becoming more widely available in Australia and you may find a version of them in some supermarkets.