07 May 2012

Nikujaga: Japanese Meat and Potatoes

Seyoung and I have been watching a Japanese drama called Sinya Shokudo (深夜食堂, Midnight Restaurant).  In each episode the main character, the taciturn, enigmatic diner chef simply known as Master, deals with a different dish and a different story about the patrons of his tiny Shinjuku late-night diner.  Each episode is titled for a Japanese diner-type dish, which makes you pretty hungry after you've watched an episode.

 One of the last episodes featured a common home-style dish called nikujaga (meat and potato) that looked pretty simple and deliciously hearty, so I gave it a go.

This stove-top casserole dish holds about three litres or so, Seoung and I ate almost all of it in one sitting.  To be fair we hadn't eaten much all day, and it took a while for the stew to, well, stew.

The recipe I followed was a synthesis from three other recipes from Closet Cooking, Just Hungry and No Recipes.

400 g beef, sliced into thinnish bite-size pieces
4 medium-large potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
2 large carrots, sliced into bite sized chunks
2 small yellow cooking onions
1 slice of ginger
3 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs mushroom soy sauce (I just like the taste of this stuff)
3 tbs white sugar
1 tbs sake
2 tbs mi-rin
1 tsp sesame oil
2 c dashi (or something similar, or just water, or stock)

You'll need a large-ish pot for the stew.

Combine all the liquid ingredients and the sugar and stir until most of the sugar s dissolved or you couldn't be arsed to stir it any more.

Using a little cooking oil brown the beef, then add the onions and ginger and saute for a minute.  Add the other veggies and saute for a a few minutes.

Add the liquid ingredients and the sugar and simmer until the stock is reduced by about half.  Again this depends on your taste, but it should be reduced to concentrate and blend the flavours.  I simmered it for at least an hour.

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