Monday, April 19, 2010

Harumi Kurihara's Nikujaga - Meat and Potatoes Stew

What's more hearty than meat and potatoes? Nikujaga (niku = meat, jaga = potatoes) is a delicious stew that the Japanese have adopted and made their own. It's a little sweeter than regular stews and fish stock boosts the umami factor. This recipe is from Harumi's Japanese Home Cooking by Harumi Kurihara. She's phenomenally popular in Japan as a cooking and lifestyle celebrity, and she makes Japanese home cooking so easy and accessible. Her recipes are always homely and heartwarming. Somehow you can almost feel the love coming off the recipes as you read them! 

This is her original recipe (serves 4) and it's really simple and elegant. I'm jotting down the tweaks I made (for self-reference).

Harumi says: This delicious traditional stew has a slightly sweet and salty flavour. It's the taste of real home cooking. The potatoes are soft and flaky, and the onions thick and chunky. I like my onions sliced thickly to retain their bite and texture.

750g potatoes (I just used one large potato)
400g onions (I used one large white onion)
200g finely sliced beef (oh much more please! I doubled this at least)
1 tablespoon sunflower or vegetable oil
2 cups/400ml dashi stock or light fish stock
75ml soy sauce
3 tablespoons caster sugar (I only used 1 tablespoon, cos 3 is too sweet for my family)
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon sake (I didn't have sake on hand, so just used 3 tablespoons mirin)
* not in recipe but as you can see, I added some carrots too! 

1. Peel potatoes and chop them evenly as you would for roast potatoes. Soak in water for 5-6 minutes to remove excess starch, then drain.
2. Cut the onion into 6 wedge-shape pieces (I chopped into 8 and they pretty much disintegrated). Then chop the beef into bite-size pieces.
3. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Stir-fry the potatoes, add the onions and beef and cook for a few minutes.
4. Add the dashi stock, soy sauce, sugar, mirin and sake to the saucepan and simmer. Remove any scum from the surface and place a drop lid on top. Simmer until potatoes are cooked.
5. Taste before serving. If you want a richer flavour, add some soy sauce and extra sugar. Serve in bowls.



  1. this looks really yum. I do love Harumi recipes. They're great home family food.

  2. This looks delish, and adds another homey, comfort-foody Japanese dish to my list of stuff to try. I do really need to catch up with you one day and just have a marathon chat about - what else - Japanese food galore! :D

  3. How coincidental, I made this same day as you too. I love Harumi's recipes, its a winner everytime. Like you, I also increased the meat quantity, but otherwise followed the recipe to the 'T' and using dashi stock. I have also doubled this recipe previously and it freezes beautifully. It also works in the slow cooker with other cuts of beef, just reduce the stock quantity.
    Regards, Dorie from Down Under

  4. After you covered the pan, how long did you simmer before it is ready to serve?

  5. oooh looks really good and seems a pretty easy recipe! (= thanks for sharing!

  6. Diva: Me too, I love her recipes!

    LFB: Kenny, yes, this is pure comfort food! Haha, let's catch up someday soon, maybe over some good Japanese!

    Dorie: That's great! Harumi's recipes are not only good but very versatile.

    Anon: depends on your potatoes and quantity you're making, but I think mine took about 20-30 minutes.

    Chenyze: you're welcome! You're right - it's really easy to do.

  7. Would you recommend serving rolls or something of that sort? It seems like Hawaiian sweet rolls would go well with this.

  8. This sounds very tasty and simple to make. I'm definitely going to have to try it out :D

  9. The foods are looking delicious and tasty specially the Nikujaga stew. Hope it will be simple to prepare. I'm definitely going to have to try it out.

  10. question: i have only seen beef thinly sliced at japanese supermarkets - anyone knows where to get it at the hawkers?? looking for a cheaper alternative

  11. Mogan: I still think rice is the best complement, or maybe pasta. As the stew is already quite sweet, the Hawaiian sweet rolls might be a bit too much.

    Alkanphel: Hey, sorry to hear about the thin slices turning tough.

    Luca: Thanks, please do try it.

    Anon: Well, what we do is buy a chunk of beef and slice it ourselves! Or maybe your butcher can do it. Personally I prefer thicker chunks for stews.

  12. Hi Camemberu, really love this recipe. Tried it today and blog about it too. Credits given obviously. Thank you for the inspiration.
    This is a very nice sweet stew for winter's time.

    Thank you M'am

  13. Thanks, Noririn. Your stew looks good!

  14. Great recipe! Tried it yesterday and it came out just how I liked it!


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