Japan Eats

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.

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