Beef and potato stew 肉じゃが

japanese cake
I meant to make this dish much earlier and I finally managed to make it now. This is a Japanese version of “meat and potatoes” and is the ultimate home cooked comfort dish. As such, it is also one of the most popular Izakaya dishes. As usual some variations exist but I think my recipe is middle-of-the-road. One of the major variations of this dish is what kind of meat to use. Most commonly it is thinly sliced beef (for sukiyaki) but some make it with pork (bara or sanmai niku バラ肉、三枚肉). Actually, when I was growing up, my mother made it with pork. Here I took a more traditional way and used beef.

The ingredients are 1) potates, 3-4 medium size, peeled and cut into a large bite size, and sharp edges beveled (called “mentori” 面取り to prevent the potatoes from crumbling while cooking), 2) beef, thinly sliced for sukiyaki, 250 grams, cut into a bite sized pieces, 3) onion, 2 large, cut in half and then cut into half inch wide wedges, 4) carrots, 2 small, cut into small half moon bit sized pieces, 4) “konnyakuthread 糸蒟蒻, one package, cut into 2-3 inch long and parboiled for 1 minutes and drained, 5) green beans or snow peas (I used snow peas 15-20), ends trimmed.

In a large sauté pan, add 2-3 tbs of light olive or vegetable oil on a medium high flame. When the pan is hot, I first saute the onion until it is wilted (4-5 minutes). Then add and saute the beef until it loses its red color.  Add the carrot, konnyaku thread, potatoes (including the scrap from beveling the sharp edges of potatoes) and coat the vegetables with oil. Since some brown “fond” will develop on the bottom of the pan, I deglaze using 2-3 tbs of sake and then add dashi broth to cover the vegetables (I did not measure but I guess about 500ml or more). As it started boiling I turn it to simmer and skim off any scum that floats to the surface several times and let it cook for 15 or more minutes until the potates are cooked (test with a skewer). Now it is time to season. I often “eyeball” everthing and add sugar, mirin, sake, soy sauce directly into the pan but this time I tried to measure and premix the seasoning; sake, mirin, soy sauce (3 tbs each) and sugar (1 tbs). I added the seasoning mix to the pan and, with the lid off, cooked another 20 minutes on a medium flame, occasionally shaking the pan. The liquid should be reduced in half or more at the end of cooking. I taste and add more soysauce and/or sugar if needed (I added a few more tbs of soy sauce toward the end). I then add snow peas and cook an additional five minutes (you could pre-cook green the beans or snow peas, in that case, add just at the very end and mix).

This is a classic! Such a wonderful combination of flavors and textures. For potatoes, the starchy kind such as white or Russet works best. We ended up getting a second helping and filled ourselves up. This is a whole meal in a bowl. This goes well with any drink.

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