I bet when I say "meat and potatoes", it's probably fair to say that the image conjured up in your mind would be something like juicy, thinly sliced roast beef with mashed potatoes and loads of gravy. But, if you're a Japanese, then the image would be this beef & potatoes stew, the only seasoning required: soy sauce and honey.
Nikujaga (japanese: 肉じゃが), literally means "meat potato", is an every Japanese home's comfort food. Not unlike roast beef, every Japanese has their own version of nikujaga. My recipe is adapted from Yoko Arimoto's Simply Japanese book and how I love it to bits. So simple, yet oh so flavoursome. Or as the Japanese would say, umami!
All the yummy ingredients!
Peel the potatoes, and cut into small pieces.
Thinly slice the onion.
If you got fresh green beans, this would be the time to wash and cut them into approximately 4 cm pieces. If you're lazy like me, you'll get this frozen baby beans, pre-cut. Word?
Slice the meat into thin strips.
Add vegetable oil to a medium-high heat saucepan.
Brown the beef in batches.
Push the browned beef strips aside before adding the next batch.
My oil wasn't hot enough when I started, hence the pooling beef juices. You do not want that. They'll still taste yummy, but there'll just be less browning action.
Add the onion.
Add the potatoes and turn the heat down to medium-low.
Stir and cook for 5 minutes.
Then add water until the content is just barely covered.
Add the honey and stir.
Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes. At which time you can add the green beans.
Add the kikkoman soy sauce, stir to combine and simmer for a further 5 minutes. The beef will become these tender morsels of meat and turn into this glossy brown colour from the soy sauce and the honey.
Oh, and another thing, only kikkoman soy sauce please, no other brands are accepted. I'm a self-proclaimed soy sauce snob, unfortunately.
Taste it, add more honey and soy sauce until you completely love the dish. I added more soy sauce, but not the honey, as I don't want it to be sweet.
Serve nikujaga warm with a bowl of steamy rice.
So simple right?
I promise you it's totally delish.
Adapted from Yoko Arimoto's Simply Japanese
- 4 medium sized potatoes
- 100g thin beef slices, cut into strips
- half an onion
- 8 green beans or more
- 2 tbsp honey
- 4 tbsp kikkoman soy sauce
- Peel the potatoes and cut into bite-sized pieces. Thinly slice the onions. Wash the green beans and cut into 4 cm pieces.
- Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil over a medium-high heat saucepan. Brown the beef in batches.
- Add the onion and potatoes. Stir and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat.
- Add water to barely cover the content. Add 2 tablespoons of honey, stir to combine. Bring to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are soft. About 15 minutes.
- Add the green beans and 4 tablespoons of soy sauce. Stir to combine. Simmer for 5 more minutes.
- Check the flavour, add more soy sauce and honey to taste, if required. Serve warm with a bowl of rice.