We are making Nikujaga, one of the most popular dishes in home cooking. This time, we will add a minimum amount of water to bring out the maximum flavor from the ingredients. The combined umami of the meat and vegetable makes this dish absolutely delicious!
First, let's prepare the ingredients. Cut the potato into relatively large bite-size pieces. Lightly rinse the potato and wipe the excess water from the surface.
Cut the carrot into bite-size pieces while slightly rotating it for each cut.
Cut the onion in half lengthwise and slice it into 4 wedges along the grain, leaving the bottom part still attached.
Remove the firm stringy part from the snow pea pods. Pull the string from the stem end to the tip along the pod.
Leaving the tip of the pods attached is considered visually appealing.
As for the Ito konnyaku, cut it into smaller pieces and parboil it.
Let's make Nikujaga. Heat about a half tablespoonful of vegetable oil in a pan. Arrange the beef slices on the pan.
If your beef slices are too big, cut them into smaller pieces beforehand.
When the redness in the beef almost turns brown, transfer two-thirds of the beef to a tray.
This will keep most of the meat from getting tough.
The rest of the beef will help the potato and carrot absorb the savory flavor of the meat.
Now, add the potato and carrot and stir-fry.
Thoroughly stir-fry until the surface of the potato becomes translucent. Cooking the ingredients thoroughly at this stage helps to reduce the water you will add later.
And now, add the onion and ito konnyaku also known as shirataki noodles. Stir to coat the ingredients with oil evenly.
Distribute the saved beef onto the potato. Pour over the dashi stock.
Add the sugar and sake. Submerge the sugar in the broth and lightly stir to dissolve it.
Cover the ingredients with a paper towel. This will work as an otoshibuta, also known as a drop-lid, and help cook the ingredients with a smaller amount of broth.
Cover with a lid that fits the pan well and simmer for 10 minutes. When you check the heat, listen to the sound at a close distance. You will hear the pleasant simmering sound at the desired heat level. If the heat is too strong, the potato will break apart as the broth boils.
When you have simmered for 10 minutes, move the paper towel to the side and pour over the soy sauce.
Swirl the pan to distribute it evenly and ladle the broth over the ingredients. The benefit of using the paper towel as a drop-lid is that it will also remove the foam. Be sure to check the label if you are not sure whether or not your paper towel fits this purpose.
Cover with the paper towel again. Cover with the lid and simmer for 10 more minutes.
Now, skewer the potato with a bamboo stick to check if it is cooked through.
Finally, add the snow pea pods. Cover and simmer for 1 more minute.
Remove the snow peas to keep them from discoloring.
Remove the paper towel and turn off the burner. Then, turn the ingredients over to submerge the parts where they haven't fully absorb the broth.
Cover and let it sit to cool.
And now, let's reheat the nikujaga. Nimono, Japanese stews like Nikujaga should be cooled once and then reheated just before you enjoy it. This is because the ingredients absorb the savory broth while cooling.
When the nikujaga has warmed up, ladle it into the bowl.
Finally, arrange the ingredients and garnish with the saved snow peas. This nikujaga is colorful, visually appealing and delicious!
To contain the umami in the ingredients, use a lid that fits the pan tightly and avoid opening it as much as possible. Simmering the ingredients with the tight lid will help to extract the water from the vegetables, keeping the amount of dashi stock and seasonings to a minimum. In addition, the extracted water contains the umami of the vegetables so that will make the dish more delicious.
When making Nikujaga, beef is often used in the Kansai region, but people in the Kanto region tend to use pork instead.