Japanese nikujaga (肉じゃが)

In keeping with the last couple of posts on simple yet tasty dishes – and because I’m currently in Japan – here’s one which typifies Japanese home cooking: nikujaga (肉じゃが), literally meat and potatoes! That’s right. Contrary to what you might have learned from TV shows, most Japanese are not cooking – or eating – umami-laden food that took 5 days to make. In fact, more than anywhere else I’ve experienced, the emphasis is on convenience and speed. Even meat is almost always sold very thinly sliced so that it cooks rapidly. But with the right ingredients even meat and potatoes can taste good and this is a perfect example of Japanese comfort food. (Alas, I don’t have a better picture. But don’t let that put you off from making this dish!)

Japanese nikujaga (肉じゃが)
Cuisine: Japanese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
  • 3 tbsp sake
  • ¼ lb thinly sliced beef or pork
  • 1 large potato, diced into 1" cubes
  • ½ carrot, sliced
  • ½ onion, sliced
  • Optional ¼ cup diced burdock root (gobō; ごぼう)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp ago dashi powder
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 packet shirataki noodles
  • 6-7 snow peas
  • Steamed short-grained rice for serving
  1. Marinate meat in 1 tbsp sake for about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Cook shirataki noodles according to package instructions and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a pot over medium and fry the meat until no longer pink. Remove from the pot and set aside.
  4. In the same pot saute onions, carrots, potatoes, and optional burdock root for a few minutes. Add soy sauce, mirin, the remaining sake, dashi, and 1 cup water. Mix well. Cover and simmer until potatoes are almost cooked.
  5. In the mean time, bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanch the snow peas and refresh under cold water. Set aside.
  6. Stir in the meat and noodles and simmer until done. Taste for seasonings (like many Japanese dishes it should be just a little bit sweet).
  7. Garnish with the snow peas and serve over rice.

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4 Responses to “Japanese nikujaga (肉じゃが)”

  1. #
    Mari Ito — December 27, 2012 at 11:17 am

    ahhh. This makes me crave Japanese meat cooking. Show us “Kakuni” in next issue, please. Of course, it’s pork not beef like some fancy NYC restaurants sell as “kakuni.”

    • #
      Samar — December 28, 2012 at 8:03 am

      Hi Mari-san, I’m sure you already have all the ingredients to make nikujaga, especially the sake :-). Turns out I had kakuni quite recently and it was quite oishii. Of course, pork belly – which I think is traditionally used in kakuni – tastes good in any form! I’ve never made it but I do make a (somewhat) similar Korean braised meat dish called galbi jjim that you may like. I’ll try to post a recipe one of these days.

  2. #
    You know who — December 28, 2012 at 6:43 am

    An iPhone camera will take a better pic! 😉

    • #
      Samar — December 28, 2012 at 8:07 am

      Alas, no technology will make up for my lack of photography skills! And the fact that what you see is what I eat and by the time I am finished cooking I have little patience to take pictures. Still, that was a particularly bad one!

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