Recipe: Nikujaga



By Luc Gougeon

Call it whatever you want, but nikujaga is just the Japanese version of your mom’s beef stew. You won’t find this potato and meat dish in restaurants, but every family in Japan has its own recipe. I’ve had a few nikujaga dishes and they all tasted slightly different, so I will list the basic ingredients and leave it to you to adapt it to your own taste. Don’t hesitate to make a big batch since the leftovers are simply delicious and you will flabbergast your co-workers when they see nikujaga in your bento box.


  • Thinly sliced beef
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • Konnyaku in any shape you like (I like udon-like Devil’s tongue)
  • 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cup of water
  • 3 Tbsps sugar
  • 2 Tbsps of cooking sake
  • 3 Tbsps of soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp of mirin


  1. Peel and cut all the vegetables. Wash the konnyaku.
  2. In a pot, fry the beef with the vegetable oil.
  3. Add the veggies and konnyaku.
  4. Add the water, bring it to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer. Add the sake, mirin, soy sauce and sugar.
  5. Cover and let it simmer.

Adjust the taste while it’s simmering and make this recipe your own. I like to add fresh or dry shitake mushrooms, garnish it with chives and spice it up with shichimi tōgarashi (seven flavor chili pepper). Vegetarians could try replacing the meat with hard tofu, though I’ve never tried it this way. Enjoy!


  1. “You won’t find this potato and meat dish in restaurants, but every family in Japan has its own recipe.”

    I’m sorry but I couldn’t resist commenting because I’ve seen nikujaga in every single izakaya I’ve ever been to.

    Jase: I haven’t looked up the translation for “izakaya” but I’m thinking Luc probably means finer dining restaurants.

    Luc: Thanks for this one. I have spent time in Japan but can’t recall ordering this (maybe it was the restaurants I went to…) so I’m going to give this one a try to experience that Japanese home cooking style.

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