Sep 24, 2021

Nikujaga 肉じゃが - Japanese Meat and Potato Stew

Niku means meat in Japanese, and jaga refers to potato, so it shouldn't be hard to imagine what this dish is about. Nikujaga is just like pork stew to Taiwanese, and perhaps pulled pork to Americans, most families in Japan have their own recipe for nikujaga. 


Japanese meat and potato stew nikujaga 肉じゃが

It's one of Japanese's all time comfort food. I can also recall that back in college in CA, the international student from Japan was making nikujaga for everyone, it's that one dish commonly cooked by Japanese students overseas. As recommended by my fellow Japanese friend, "use beef," she said. You must make nikujaga with beef slices, not pork. Instruction well remembered and followed.


Nikujaga 肉じゃが/Japanese meat and potato stew - 


Japanese meat and potato stew nikujaga 肉じゃが


Ingredients?

  • 250 grams beef slices
  • 3 small potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 170 grams shirataki noodles (konjac noodles)
  • 100 grams peas/snap peas
  • 850ml water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or other preferred cooking oil

Sauce:

  • 4 to 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar


How?

If you prefer potatoes to have a softer, more so "fluffy" bite, here's what I do. Peel and steam whole potatoes for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and wait till the potatoes cool down.


Steaming whole and peeled potatoes

Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add in the peas or snap peas and let it boil for about 30 seconds. Drain and remove the thin skin from the peas. Set aside for final garnish in the end.


Removing thin skin from peas


Peel and chop the carrot into chunks. Drain out any liquid from the shirataki/konjac noodles package and rinse for a bit. Drain again and cut into shorter sections. 


Once the earlier potatoes cool down, chop into chunks also. Peel and slice the onion, wider slices this time. If using long pieces of beef slices, slice into shorter sections.


Beef slices for nikujaga

Take a medium pot, drizzle about 2 tablespoons of oil and turn to medium high heat. Add in onion and stir-fry till translucent.


Stir-frying onion for Japanese meat and potato stew nikujaga

Add in carrot and potatoes, continue to stir-fry for another 30 seconds or so.


Stir-frying carrot and potatoes for nikujaga

Add in beef and shirataki. Pour in about 850ml of water along with all the ingredients under the "sauce" section. Use up to 6 tablespoons of soy sauce for a saltier taste. You can start out with 4 tablespoons and add a little bit more at a time when needed later on.


Adding water and sauce mixture for nikujaga

Still under medium high heat. Cook till it starts to bubble. You can cut the parchment paper into round shape with a hole in the center. Measure it so the paper can cover the inner surface of the pot perfectly. Or the easier way is to simply use a lid but don't fully cover the pot, leaving a small gap for the steam to escape. 


Leaving a gap when stewing nikujaga

Lower the heat to a simmer. Continue to cook for 20 to 25 minutes. If it starts to boil, try to move the lid a little bit more to the side, or tilted. Shouldn't be an issue if you use the paper method instead.


Japanese meat and potato stew nikujaga 肉じゃが


Finally, remove the paper or the lid, serve from the pot or scoop to individual servings, and remember to garnish with peas. A pop of green to brighten up this stew.


Japanese meat and potato stew nikujaga 肉じゃが

You should definitely taste the sweetness from both the sugar, stewed veggies, and mirin. That's how a basic Japanese stew would taste like. Slightly salty and sweet, makes all the remaining juice an ideal company for steamed rice.


Other Japanese recipes:


Sep 17, 2021

Pad See Ew - Thai Stir-Fry Noodles with Chicken and Gai Lan

Pad Thai and pad see ew might be the two most common Thai style stir-fry noodles known by foreigners. While the basic concept holds the same for stir-fry noodles, I think pad Thai is a bit harder to make, with more ingredients involved also. So if you are looking for an easier-to-achieve Thai recipe, pad see ew, mainly involved with chicken, gai lan (Chinese broccoli), and eggs, can be the way to go.


Pad see ew/Thai stir-fry noodles with chicken and gai lan -


Pad see ew (Thai stir-fry noodles with chicken and gai lan)


Ingredients (about 4 portions)?

  • 360 grams dried flat rice noodles
  • 8 chicken tenders
  • 12 stems gai lan/Chinese broccoli
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil or other preferred cooking oil

Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar


How?

Here's the noodles I got, which came in nest-shape. I used a total of 6 nests for this recipe. 


Asian dried flat rice noodles

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add in dried noodles. Cook for about 7 to 10 minutes, or according to package instructions. Once ready, drain and set aside for later use. 


Peel and chop the garlic cloves. Remove the tendons from chicken tenders and slice the chicken to about 2mm-thick pieces. Beat the eggs in a bowl first. Mix all the ingredients under the "sauce" section and set aside.


Cut the gai lan into about 1.5 to 2-inch long sections. Separate the softer leafy parts and the tougher stems. I actually halved or quartered the stems into thinner strips, which will help the stems cook much faster and easier chew in the end.


Gai lan (Chinese broccoli)

Prepare a wok or a big pan, drizzle about 2 tablespoons of oil and turn to medium high heat. Using very high heat can create a desirable wok hei, that aroma you get from quick stir-fry dishes. But only use such heat if you can maneuver your way in the kitchen fast enough.


Add in chopped garlic and give it a quick stir-fry, cook till aromatic but not burnt.


Add in the chicken and cook till the meat just about to turn white, not fully cooked-through yet.


Searing chicken tenders

Add in gai lan stems and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Add the leafy part and continue to cook till the veggies reach your preferred texture. Some like it crunchy, I prefer a softer bite instead.


Push these ingredients to the side of the wok/pan. Pour in beaten egg to the empty area. Don't stir it too early, wait till the bottom starts to set a bit. After that, go ahead and scramble the eggs. Try to get medium sized pieces of scrambled eggs.


Scoop out all the ingredients and set aside.


Still using the same wok/pan. Drizzle 1 more tablespoon of oil. Mix in the noodles along with the sauce mixture. Give it a few tosses till well-blended. Let the noodles cook with the sauce for a bit longer, 30 seconds will do.


Pad see ew noodles in sauce

Transfer the earlier stir-fried ingredients back to the wok/pan. Toss till blended. Plate and serve immediately.


Pad see ew (Thai stir-fry noodles with chicken and gai lan)

If you can't find gai lan in the market, use bok choy instead, which can be found in Asian markets all year round. The veggies are easier to substitute, but noodles, if you can't find flat rice noodles, go for the flour-based Asian noodles instead. It's ok to improvise along the way especially it's not always an easy task sorting Asian ingredients. As long as it still tastes good, changing a thing or two won't hurt, you think so? 


Other Asian stir-fry noodles recipes: