Origin - Japan
Nikujaga is a Japanese dish of meat, potatoes, onions, carrots, and konjac noodles stewed in a sweetened soy sauce. Generally, potatoes make up most of the dish with some pieces of meat and vegetables to add more depth of flavor. Thinly-sliced beef is the most common meat used, although ground beef is also popular. Pork is often used instead of beef in Eastern Japan.
Nikujaga is a popular comfort food for the Japanese as well as a common home-cooked dish that almost every household in Japan would make during the winter. It is often considered as a “mother’s taste” meal as each household would have a slight variation in the cooking process. The food itself is very simple and homey that would bring one to feel nostalgic after a spoonful of warm Nikujaga. It is considered the most popular dishes among all kinds of Japanese stews.
[ Fun Fact ]
Nikujaga has been added as a flavor to popular Japanese potato snack, Jagariko, and continues to be one of the popular flavors that people enjoy from the brand.
[ History ]
Nikujaga was invented by the chefs of the Imperial Japanese Navy in the late 19th century when the admiral of the Navy, Togo Heihachiro, ordered the naval cooks to create a similar version of the stew served in the British Royal Navy.
This was all inspired by the admiral’s craving for British Beef Stew when he studied abroad in Britain for naval science. At the time when Japan engaged in battles with neighboring nations, it is truly interesting how the man who was responsible for leading the Imperial Japanese Navy is also the man responsible for the dish that the present day Japanese love.
[ How to Eat ]
Potatoes are bursting with flavor since it is simmered with other vegetables and meat and has soaked in all the umami (savory taste). It is recommended to take a bite out of the soft potatoes to taste the original flavor of the stew it has been simmering in.