Friday, August 3, 2012

[Shinya Shokudou - Chapter 1] Nikujaga

I'm trying very hard to catch up on the Shinya Shokudou Cooking Club challenges that I missed.  The very first challenge the club members were asked to do was a stable in almost every Japanese household called Nikujaga (肉じゃが), Meat and Potato Stew, 馬鈴薯燉肉. "Niku" literally means meat and "jaga" means potato. I was told that nikujaga to the Japanese is like mac n cheese to the Americans. It invokes a certain feeling of homeliness and nostalgia. In Japanese, this is called "ofukuro no aji", おふくろの味, meaning the "mother's taste". Every housewife in Japan knows how to make nikujaga and it's often one of the first dishes a woman learns how to make (so that she can cook for her boyfriend/husband)!  I have to say that it was quite appropriately picked as the first dish for our cooking club because even for something as common as nikujaga, usually every housewife has her own recipe and secret ingredients, and this is what this whole cooking club is all about. Every Sunday at 11pm when I post my recipe, I am also waiting by my computer at the same time, eager to find out how the other members made the same dish. There are always surprises and we learn many new tips and tricks from each other. This whole internet community makes cooking so much more fun than doing it at home by yourself!

Back to my recipe, this time I've choosen to adopt Masa-sensei's version (simply because it was the first one that came up when I googled for "馬鈴薯燉肉", haha). The step-by-step instructions on his website is very easy to follow.  And again, for those who don't read Chinese, I've translated the recipe in English for you.

Serves 4
Difficulty: Intermediate

500 grams potatoes (I used Hokkaido Baron potatoes and they soaked up the sauce very well), peeled and cut into wedges
100 grams carrots, cut into "rolling wedges"
1 1/2 medium sized onion, cut into half-inch wedges
200 grams ito-konnyaku (This is a jelly-like noodle made from the root of a plant)
A few snap peas (I omitted the greens in mine because I forgot to buy them. Masa-sensei uses string beans, but I've seen more people use snap peas instead. It's really there to add colour to the dish so it doesn't matter what you use actually)
200 grams beef slices, cut in half
500 ml water
5 tablespoons soya sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sake
1 1/2 tablespoons mirin

1. Bring water to a boil in a small pot and cook ito-konnyaku for about two minutes to take away the fishy smell.
2. In a large pot, add a little bit of oil and fry the beef slides in medium heat until half cooked.
3. Add the ito-konnyaku and half of the onion slices and fry for about 2 minutes until the onion starts to become soft.
4. Add the potatoes and carrots and fry for a minute. Add the water and turn up to high heat and bring to a boil.  After 2-3 minutes, scoop out the bubbles and oil floating on top.
5. Combine soya sauce, sugar, sake and mirin in a small bowl.  Reduce to low heat and add the seasoning to the stew and stir gently.  Cook with the lid on for 30 minutes.  (Masa-sensei recommends using a disposable lid made out of aluminum foil as it will help the ingredients absorb the flavour better.)
6. Add the rest of the onion and cook until all potatoes and carrots are turns soft.
7. Add snap peas and cook until they just turn bright green.  Serve immediately with rice.

Note: I made this using the prettiest Lilac Le Creuset dutch oven my friend got me as a "Grand Opening" gift for this new blog!  Here's a picture as she made her debut today! =D

Let's take a look at other member's Nikujaga.


日式馬鈴薯燉肉 (肉じゃが) (附食譜)【深夜食堂煮婦同樂會】第一彈 


  1. me too, i also wait by my computer every sunday to see others' work, haha!

    1. To keep the suspense until we actually publish the blog post, I think we should all disable the preview in FB when we share the picture URL so that we won't even know what others' dishes look like until Sunday.



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