Of all the new-to-me Japanese foods that boy has introduced me to, nikujaga is probably my second favorite, right after natto. It’s a slightly sweet stew made with thinly sliced beef, potatoes, carrots, green beans and shirataki noodles. I also like to add some tofu that’s been frozen and defrosted — its spongey texture soaks the flavor of the soup riiigghhttt up and gives me a plant protein to balance out the meat. Sometimes I forget to give it enough time to thaw, and I’ve found that cubing it up and submerging it in water while prepping everything else helps it defrost quickly! Just don’t forget to squeeze out the excess water.

I’ve tried this with a few different types of sliced beef and tbh really like using Trader Joe’s shaved beef that’s meant for philly cheesesteaks 😅 I’ve also made this with beef sliced for shabu/hot pot and choosing a more tender cut (like a ribeye instead of chuck) definitely yields a yummier bowl. If you’re using beef meant for shabu, you might want to consider cutting the slices smaller!

For those not familiar, shirataki noodles are made from konjac root and I love adding them to soups and stir-fries for a noodle-like texture in place of, or in addition to, noodles. It’s known for being low in calories as it’s made of 97% water!

I used (for 3-4 people):

  • 3/4 lb thinly sliced beef
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cubed (I prefer yukon gold potatoes for their creamy texture)
  • 3 medium sized carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 block frozen firm tofu, thawed, with excess squeezed out, and cubed
  • 1/2 lb green beans (snow peas are good too!)
  • 1/4 cup shiro dashi
  • 2.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp shaoxing wine
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 large pack of shirataki (cut short with scissors)
  • water

To make:

  • heat up oil over medium heat in a pot or dutch oven
  • sauté onions until translucent, seasoning with a pinch of salt, ~2-3 minutes
  • add in the beef one slice at a time (patience in adding in the beef slices will make your life easier as otherwise, they tend to stick together and cook unevenly!) and cook until mostly browned
  • add in soy sauce, cooking wine, mirin, sugar and give everything a stir
  • toss in potatoes, carrots, shirataki, and tofu, then add shiro dashi and water until items are submerged, giving it a gentle push (~2 cups of water)
  • bring to a boil and then simmer over low heat for ~15 minutes until potatoes are softened
  • skim off scum if there is any, and adjust seasoning to taste
  • add beans on top and simmer for another ~3-5 minutes until cooked through (green beans will take longer than snow peas)
  • season with salt as desired, and serve on its own or with rice!