Japan Eats

Japan Booze Blind: Umeshu

Guests Simon Pengilly and James Steele join host Christopher Pellegrini in testing three types of umeshu.

Japan Booze Blind: Umeshu from Japan Eats on Vimeo.

Boozehound: Shimo-Igusa Ni-chome

I may be stealing Marcus Lovitt’s thunder by reviewing this little gem, which he recommended to me, but he’s busy with Japan Booze, Blind and all that food porn, so I got dibs on the aptly and simply-named Shimo-Igusa Ni-chome. Read more

Japan Booze Blind: White Ale

Guests Garrett DeOrio and James Steele join host Christopher Pellegrini in testing three types of white ale.

January ’10 Magazine Roundup

Sushi, tapas and chocolate cake. It’s all here in our monthly roundup of Japanese food magazines.

The Jan 2010 issue of Dancyu

Tsukiji Market, anyone?

The January 2010 issue of ELLE à table (720 yen) runs with the theme “Let’s Party” and asks two caterers to produce a menu for 4 people that comes in under 5000 yen (p. 40).  Dancyu (850 yen), meanwhile, dedicates much of it’s 210 pages to sushi and sashimi. Dancyu columnist Kundo Koyama also contributes an essay on “The five best dishes of 2009”.

Syokuraku (860 yen) follows the sushi theme, looking at which wines best match Japan’s favourite finger food. Cuisine Kingdom (980 yen) leads with a ‘special feature’ entitled “Bar, Bistro, Trattoria – the secret of their popularity”. This basically turns out to be an excuse to present some exquisite food porn from the likes of Barcelona and Paris, of which we wholly approve.

It seems there’s nothing Japanese gourmands enjoy more than the whiff of French sophistication. The cover of Ku:nel’s January issue (780 yen) entices Francophile readers with an offer of a map to “the pleasant face of Paris”. Ryori tsushin (980 yen), meanwhile, introduces several new French restaurants in Japan and offers readers a onetime deal on a “special course and glass of wine”.

In addition to their “French chocolat patisserie collection”,  Cafe Sweets (1300 yen) begins 2010 with a whole lotta chocolate love. The magazine presents a number of chocolate cake recipes for readers to try.

And also…

January’s ELLE à table is the winner of Japan Eats’ coveted Bad English award, for their headline “I am big fun of Cheese”.

Niku jaga

Niku jaga is a dish made with beef or pork, potato, onion and carrots cooked in soy sauce, sake and mirin. In addition to being a winter staple in Japanese homes, niku jaga can sometimes be found on menus in izakaya or tachinomiya.

This recipe uses beef, however the pork version is just as tasty – simply replace the beef in the following recipe with roughly the same amount of thinly sliced pork belly (butabara).

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 3 potatoes (equivalent to 400g).
  • 250g of thinly sliced beef
  • 1 onion
  • 100 to 150g carrot
  • Shirataki (stringy ‘devil’s tongue’)
  • Haricot beans
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce

Boil a saucepan of water. Drop the shirataki in and boil for one minute. Strain the water and cut the shirataki into bite-sized lengths.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into pieces slightly larger than bite-sized. Bevel the edges and then place them into the bowl of cold water for 5 minutes.

Next, cut the onion into crescents and the beef into strips 3cm wide.

Pour 1 tablespoon of oil into a pan and heat it. Once it’s hot, put the beef into the pan. Take the pan off the gas table. And put it onto a wet towel. This is so the beef will not stick to the pan.

Put the pan back onto the gas table and cook the beef. Once the color of the beef changes, put shirataki, carrot, onion and potato then cook with the beef.

Pour the water so that it doesn’t quite cover the vegetables. Once they are cooked, turn the gas down and remove any scum from the top of the mixture.

Put the sugar, sake and soy sauce, into the pan and heat them for about 20 minutes with the middle flame and place a drop lid (otoshibuta) on the ingredients.

Add the haricot beans, turn the gas up and cook the ingredients as you evaporate the soup.

Serve the stew in a reasonably deep dish.


  • While you’re cooking niku jaga, don’t mix the ingredients too much.
  • Japanese supermarkets usually offer two kinds of potatoes: Danshaku are a round shape and break apart easily when cooked. Mayqueen potatoes are an oval shape and don’t fall apart when cooked. I prefer danshaku potatoes, but its really up to you which you use.