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Recipe: Nikujaga (Japanese Beef and Potatoes)

This is my version of "nikujaga", a traditional Japanese beef and potato dish. I started making this dish when I was in college when the traditional ingredients were hard to find (thinly sliced beef, mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine), etc.). It tastes slightly different from the traditional version, but it's easy and still very tasty.

  • 1.5 lbs. Ground beef
  • 2 Large Potatoes, cut them into 1-2 inch chunks
  • 1 Onion, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 lbs. (about 3 C) Green beans, cut them into bite size about 3 inch long
  • 1/2 C Gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1/4 C Sake
  • 4 C Water
  • 1 TBSP Olive oil
  1. Heat a large pot to medium high and cook beef with olive oil until the beef is done. Add sake to the beef.
  2. Add onions, potatoes, and green beans, and cook for a few more minutes.
  3. Turn up the heat to high and add GF soy sauce and water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium low and simmer for 10-20 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add more soy sauce if needed.
The traditional version uses mirin (sweet rice wine) and sugar to sweeten the dish. You can add some sugar during step 2 if you like more of a traditional flavor. The traditional version also uses "dashi", Japanese stock made of fish and/or kombu seaweed. Use dashi instead of water if you would like to stick with the traditional version. Lastly, the traditional version uses thinly sliced beef which is hard to find in the U.S. since the beef has to be frozen for a butcher to cut so thin. If you can find sukiyaki or shabu-shabu beef in an Asian market, you can use it instead of the ground beef. A little more fat on the sliced beef gives it a more traditional flavor.

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