Mother’s Home Cooking: Nikujaga, Japanese Meat and Potato Stew (肉じゃが)

Today, we visit mom’s kitchen for one of the most famous home-cooked meals in Japan — Nikujaga (sometimes spelled Nikujyaga). This savory beef stew is the epitome of comfort in a bowl, with large chunks of potato, noodles, and tender beef in a warm, umami-filled soup. It is simple, nutritious, filling, and a true staple in any Japanese household. Is your mouth watering yet? Ours, too! Below, we’ll dive into the history of this dish and how to make this delicious meal for yourself.

Nikujaga’s Birthplace

Nikujaga has deep roots. It was invented in the late 19th century by chefs in the Imperial Japanese Navy as a Japanese version of a British stew. This type of Japanese adaption of Western cuisine even has its own word – “yoshoku,” and nikujaga is one of the first recorded examples of Japanese “fusion” food.

The story goes that the Naval admiral Tōgō Heihachirō wanted his naval cooks to create a version of the beef stews served in the British Royal Navy, but because Western ingredients such as demi-glace were not familiar to the chefs, they made their own rendition through soy sauce and sugar. It worked! Apparently, you can still find the original recipe in Japan’s “Navy Kitchen Textbook.”

This dish was lauded for its simplicity, soothing flavor, and the high energy it fueled for the hardworking sailors. However, nikujaga was mainly a dish cooked at home by mothers until the 1970s, when there was a renewed interest in the dish and popularity skyrocketed. Now, nikujaga fans all over the world enjoy the dish for all occasions, and you can find this dish in many Japanese restaurants as well.

Nikujaga’s Ingredients, Explained

Nikujaga directly translates to “meat and potatoes. “Niku” means meat and “jagaimo” means potatoes. Easy, right? The recipe is even easier. There are four main components to the dish that bring this stew to life. Here are the main ingredients broken down:

  • Beef
    In the spirit of a true stew, you use what you have. The beef for Nikujaga can be from a variety of cuts, and some people like them chunky, and others like them thinly sliced. Just make sure to use a cut with some fat on it to keep the meat tender and juicy. Fun fact: pork is more common for this dish in eastern Japan!
  • Potatoes
    The second star of this show is the potatoes, cut in large, bite-size chunks. Other common vegetables to include are carrots and onions and colorful greens such as snow peas. You can always toss in whatever vegetables you like. The more, the merrier!
  • Noodles
    There are different types of noodles that can be used for this dish, Shirataki being the classic take. These noodles are low in calories and are often called the “miracle noodle” for their nutritional value and carb-free ingredients. You can find these at most Japanese or Asian grocery stores or even order them online!
  • Broth
    The base for Nikujaga is typically dashi, which is made from water, kombu (dried kelp), and bonito fish flakes. It has a salty and umami-packed flavor. However, this dish can also be cooked in beef stock or water. The broth is then seasoned with soy sauce, sugar, and mirin, another common combination in Japanese cooking.

Tips for Enjoying Nikujaga

  • Traditionally, this dish is served with a side of white rice and miso soup. Get those prepped as you cook this stew if you want to enjoy the full experience.
  • This dish absorbs more flavor and tastes better with time, so you can enjoy it for days. Score!
  • Have fun with it! As you make this stew, make sure to taste the broth and add in additional ingredients to shake up the flavor. You can add anything from garlic, ginger, green onions, and even tomatoes.

We have a pretty traditional Zojirushi Nikujaga recipe available on our website that you can make easily in a saucepan. Try it out, and let us know what you think!

How did your nikujaga come out? Make sure to tag Zojirushi on your photos with #zojirushi on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to let us know how you did!

KBBQ

I’m not much of a grill guy. We don’t have a big grill outside and I don’t do backyard hotdogs while guzzling beer, but I do cook steaks sometimes, squatting near my small Weber® on the patio and trying not to overcook ‘em. Can you draw this picture inside your head? If you can, don’t do it. What we love to do is go to the AYCE KBBQ (All You Can Eat Korean Barbecue), and we’re looking forward to doing that again real soon. In the meantime, I busted out my Zojirushi Grill and we had a mini version inside.

Here’s a couple things I noticed about this grill. It gets plenty hot enough fast; and because it’s electric you can stay on top of the temperature and make quick adjustments, unlike my charcoal one. The surface area was large enough for our family of 3, and probably good enough for even 4. We haven’t tried it with more than this, so I can’t say… Bonus Points: it makes really nice char lines!

If you do this at home, make sure you have some essential tools. Tongs of course, and a pair of kitchen shears to cut up the galbi. If you want to impress your friends but drive them crazy, make them eat with a pair of authentic Korean flat metal chopsticks (jeotgarek). Not as difficult to use as the Chinese ones, but harder than the wooden Japanese ones. Why are they metal anyway? The origins go back to the Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C to 660 A.D.) when silver chopsticks were used by the royalty to detect poison in their food, because the silver chopsticks were thought to change color if there was poison. Metal ones are also more durable and hygienic, and they won’t burn when used on a hot grill. That makes a ton of sense, right? If you’re interested in chopsticks, here’s a past blog you can read!

Check the simplicity of this mouthful that I’m about to scarf. And so healthy looking too! Leafy lettuce, perilla, gochujang, raw garlic and jalapeño. People get the impression that KBBQ is all about meat, which it is, but there’s so much more to the ingredients involved. And I haven’t even discussed the banchan, all the side dishes that you can serve with it. That’s a whole other chapter.

Just in case you’re wondering how to clean this grill, it’s non-stick so it cleans pretty easily, But to get a head start, I would suggest getting a wet paper towel and going over it while it’s still hot. Most of the major gunk came right off. Good luck with your own KBBQ!

Grilled Corn

I found another great use for my grill that you really can’t do in the oven or in a frying pan. Grilled corn! I tried Mexican Street Corn (elotes) and Japanese Street Corn (yaki tomorokoshi), and both came out spectacularly.

All you do for the Mexican Corn is make a batch of that famous creamy dressing using mayo, cotija cheese and chile powder. You can find recipes for it everywhere; slather it on the grilled corn to get that excellently hard-core street food flavor. How can plain grilled corn look so good?

The only way to get more “street” than this is to go to the street to get it. Or in this case go to Silver Lake where these vendors have figured out a way to grill on a shopping cart.

Japanese Corn, which can commonly be found at festivals during summers in Japan, is also easy. Make a mixture of soy sauce and mirin and brush it on while the corn is still grilling. Keep basting until that amazing smell of cooking shoyu fills the room and the corn gets tender.

Yaki Tomorokoshi is my favorite way to eat corn. Grilled corn can take a long time to cook, so to speed up the process you might want to parboil them first by boiling them in water for 2 or 3 minutes before grilling. I simply microwaved mine—works just as good. Check it out—maybe a little overcooked cuz you can see some wrinkling, but still delicious.

Just For Fun
We got a squirrel problem and he’s a messy eater. This guy is bold enough to chew through our screen, grab a peach and have breakfast, but too lazy to take it with him.

 

Zojirushi products used in this post: Indoor Electric Grill EB-DLC10
All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2021
Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America

 

 

 

 

Bake it Your Way with Zojirushi’s Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus BB-PDC20

One of our favorite things to do in the summer is spending time with our loved ones while enjoying freshly baked goods. We are excited to share more about our Product of the Month, the Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus (BB-PDC20) because as the name implies, you can access all your favorite baked goods from the comfort of your own home.

With just one appliance, you can make many delish treats, including various loaves, doughs, cakes, and even noodles and jams. Plus, you can enjoy various types of breads using the different settings such as white, wheat, multi-grain, gluten-free, and vegan — just to name a few. With this breadmaker, becoming a pro-baker is just a press of a button away. Keep reading to learn more about what makes our product of the month so special.

Meet Your Personal Baker

This Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus (BB-PDC20) is a versatile appliance that comes with many different features and an expanded healthy menu course options that include: Multigrain, Whole Wheat, Rapid Whole Wheat, Gluten Free, Salt Free, Sugar Free and Vegan.

This breadmaker was built with functionality and design in mind. The dual heaters on the bottom and top lid of the breadmaker promote even baking and browning. The double kneading blades knead the dough with superior results and are removable for easy cleaning. The baking pan is nonstick coated, making it easy to wash and maintain, and the large LCD display makes navigating the menu a simple task, even when making complicated baked goods.

Not all baked goods are created equal. The breadmaker was designed to take your individual preferences into consideration, it allows you to control how dark you’d like your crust (light, medium, dark). Additionally, aside from preset functions, you can also save up to three customizable memory settings for your own special recipes.

The appliance makes 2-pound loaves with ease, and with the rapid course functions, you will be able to bake a loaf of White or Whole Wheat bread in only 2 hours and 25 minutes. While the European setting bakes light and savory breads.

Each Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus (BB-PDC20) comes with a liquid measuring cup, nested measuring cups, a measuring spoon, and a full-color recipe book with fifty delicious baking ideas. Our website has additional recipe ideas for the curious baker, along with helpful instructional videos should you need help setting up or using your appliance.

Home Baking Your Way

Now that we’ve gotten to know the Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus Breakmaker a little better, let’s talk about some fun recipe ideas you can try for this summer.

This breadmaker will be the perfect all-in-one baking companion that the whole family can enjoy, from making bread and spreads for outdoor picnics, delicious sandwich breads for your on-the-go adventures, to DIY pizza nights for fun family nights in. Here are some of our favorite recipes:

Bacon Pain d’Epi with Coffee Spread

Show your talented baking skills off at your next summer gathering with this decadent bacon and coffee-filled artisan bread. Not only is it nice to look at and delicious to eat, but it is a super fun activity for kids learning to roll and weave dough!

The dough requires only water, lemon juice, flour, salt, and yeast, and pressing the “DOUGH” button on the breadmaker and it will do the rest of the work for you. Keep in mind, yeast is a living organism. For it to make your bread fluffy, it’s important to use fresh ingredients (not only the yeast but everything else). Once opened, try to use the yeast up as quickly as possible, and refrigerate anything left over to maintain freshness.

Don’t forget to let the bread cool before you enjoy!

Gluten Free Green Tea Bread and Mango Jam

You can truly get creative while sticking to your dietary preferences with the Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus. This Green Tea Bread is a great gluten-free option that has a tiny hint of sweetness with a subtle note of delight from the green tea. Select the “GLUTEN FREE” setting on the breadmaker, set the crust control to your preference, press START, and Voila!

Zo Tip: As you’re making loaves in the breadmaker, there may be times that the bread might get a little stuck in the bread pan. Try gently wiggling the wing nuts under the pan. This will move the kneading blades slightly, releasing them from the bread. Don’t forget to wear oven mitts and not turn the wingnuts too much though, or you might get a big hole in your bread!

Did you know, you can also make Mango Jam in your breadmaker? Our exotic mango jam recipe is dense with a unique texture, packed with a powerful tropic flavor that will pair perfectly with any bread, pancake, scone, or yogurt. It is perfect for lunches, snacks, picnics, or to accompany your breakfast spread!

Gluten Free Smoked Salmon Salad Pizza

Feeling more confident with your home bakery and ready to take it to the next level? This gluten-free smoked salmon pizza has a soft and crispy crust, with healthy and tasty ingredients such as brown rice flour and olive oil. Remember, using a measuring cup to measure dry ingredients will always cause variations in weight, which is not ideal. All of Zojirushi’s recipes will include weight measurements for all ingredients. Using a digital scale will ensure accurate measurements, but it’s also convenient because you don’t have to worry about remembering how many cups of flour you put in the pan.

How did your home baking creations come out? What do you love most about the Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus (BB-PDC20)? Let us know by tagging your photos on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi

Mom’s Cooking Blog: Ginger Pork Stir-Fry (生姜焼きShogayaki)

Today, we’re visiting mom’s kitchen to indulge in a Japanese classic – Shogayaki, or Ginger Pork. The signature ginger and soy sauce marinade transforms the thin tender pork slices into a mouthwatering entrée, served crispy over rice and cabbage. The best part? After you marinate the pork, it’s usually ready in a snap, around 10 minutes or less. It’s most popular as a lunchtime bento box or teishoku set, which includes rice, miso soup, and pickles. But in mom’s kitchen, this simple dish makes for an excellent flavor-packed meal any time of day!

Shogayaki Origins

In Japanese, ginger is shoga (生姜) and “yaki” (焼き) means grill. In other words, it directly translates to “grilled with ginger.” If you mention “shogayaki” in any place in Japan, most people will assume you’re referring to pork shogayaki, but other variations with beef also exist.

No Recipes states that this dish originated at a Tonkatsu restaurant (another famous pork dish) about 70 years ago in the city of Ginza, where the chef decided to marinade his pork in a simple ginger sauce before pan frying it golden brown.

Since then, the dish has taken off and quickly become a Japanese home staple and is the most famous pork dish in the country second only to Tonkatsu.

Breaking Down the Ingredients

Ginger

The star of this dish is most certainly ginger, where the ingredient creates a distinct warm spice and mouthwatering aroma. Ginger contains an enzyme called Zingibain, which breaks down the pork’s protein, making the meat more tender over time. Ginger also contains antimicrobial compounds that fight off the growth of pathogens, which means it keeps your meat fresher for longer, sometimes up to a week! There are also many additional health benefits from ginger alone, from reducing inflammation, protecting the immune system, and some even say that fights fatigue caused by the hot and humid weather during Japanese summers!

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is the backbone of this dish as well as for many other sauces in Japanese cuisine. By adding saltiness to the sauce, it brings out the meat’s peak flavors, and when combined with the other ingredients it adds to the signature “umami” of this dish.

Sake

Sake may be a neutral-flavored ingredient but plays an essential role in the marinade. On top of gently adding depth and flavor to the umami of the dish, the alcohol in the sake also helps break down and tenderize the meat and also cuts any unpleasant odors from the pork.

Mirin

Mirin is a subtly sweet Japanese rice wine with a lower alcohol content than sake. It has a syrupy texture that adds sweetness and thickness to the sauce, rounding out the saltiness from the soy sauce and adding body to the sauce.

Pork

Various cuts of pork can be used for this dish, but the most popular include leg, sirloin, or shoulder. Others will even use thicker cuts, like pork collar. It’s all up to you and what meats you have available or prefer.

There are a couple of ways to prep the pork as well- either by hand-cutting it or using a meat slicer to slice it into super-thin pieces.

Pro tip: frozen meat is much easier to slice into thin pieces

When it comes to marinating the pork, some say to leave the pork for at least an hour, and others will say to let it sit overnight. Others will even say to skip the marinating process altogether and send it straight to the pan! Either way, the pork in ginger will keep for a few days, so you can continue to enjoy or share this delicious dish however you like.

Cabbage

You will almost always see a large bed of cabbage accompanying a dish of Shogayaki. It’s a simple palate cleanser that mellows out the ginger sauce, making each bite after the next equally delicious. Some will add a dressing, but traditionalists will skip it because the ginger sauce from the pork compliments the cabbage as is.

Optional

There are many variations to making this dish, and of course, we recommend that you make it the way that you enjoy it the most. Some of the most common additions to this recipe will be sliced onion, garlic, and sugar, and a few other suggestions call for green onion, sesame oil, tomato sauce, or corn starch.

Shogayaki, Zojirushi style

Are you ready to whip up some Shogayaki goodness yourself? Our recipe has a few Zojirushi twists to make this dish extra special. For example, our recipe calls for boneless pork chops and corn starch, and it also instructs you to add the ginger juice at the very end.

This recipe was developed for any of our Gourmet Sizzler® Electric Griddles and when it’s hot and ready, the pork should cook fully within a few minutes. Enjoy!

How do you make your ginger pork? Did you add any secret ingredients to make yours pop?

Let us know by sharing your story on social by tagging #Zojirushi on your photos with #zojirushi on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!

Make a Memorable Father’s Day Feast with Our Product of the Month – Indoor Electric Grill EB-DLC10

It’s June, which means Father’s Day is right around the corner! To help you create the perfect itinerary for Dad and take some of the weight of planning off your shoulders, we’ve put together a Father’s Day menu, featuring our product of the month — the Indoor Electric Grill EB-DLC10.

This versatile home appliance has a large grilling surface, an enhanced dual-layer nonstick coating, and variable heat settings to make a day of grilling for dad effortless and enjoyable, all through the simple use of just this single appliance.

This grill has a stylish stainless-steel body, is mighty with its 1,500-watt high-powered heating element, and is thoughtfully designed to direct oils away for healthier tasty foods.

Not only can you show him how much you appreciate him with your fresh, home-cooked meals, but with its easy-to-clean design and dishwasher-safe drip tray, you can spend more time making new memories with Dad with zero hassle. Let’s get cooking!

Breakfast in Bed

It’s usually Mom who gets breakfast in bed, but who says Dad shouldn’t get the full experience, too? For a sweet, indulgent breakfast that’ll make him feel like a king, whip up our Baked Apples in Foil. This dish only requires an apple, some sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, butter, and about 15 minutes to grill. Once the apple is roasted and caramelized, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a sprig of mint to complete the final dish. Breakfast is served! Don’t forget to brew plenty of coffee with our lineup of coffee makers and water boilers.

  • Expert Tip: Zojirushi grills and griddles come with long power cords, and the heated plate is covered by a cool-touch body, so they can be used safely at the table.

A Lunch to Long For

A light and beautiful Seared Tuna with Herb Dressing for lunch, is light yet decadent to accompany daytime activities. This dish is paired with a citrus dressing, which adds a fresh brightness to the tuna. Serve with a side salad of greens for some delicious and nutritious balance.

Turn on the Electric Grill on HI to preheat for 6 minutes, and continue on to prep the tuna. The entire recipe should take about 20 minutes. Are you getting hungry looking at these dishes? We are, too!

Pro Tip: Safety is important here at Zojirushi. All Zojirushi grills and griddles have a feature that prevents the appliance from heating unless everything is installed properly. If you’re having trouble setting up your appliance, send a message to our helpful Customer Service Team! 

Dinner and a Movie

The grand finale of the day ends with a mouthwatering Coffee Marinated Grilled Steak with Garlic Soy Sauce and a colorful accouterment of grilled vegetables on the side. All of Dad’s friends are sure to be jealous.

The best part about this meal is that you can enjoy it outside, but also in the comfort of your own home. Impress Dad with your grilling skills by setting up the Indoor Electric Grill EB-DLC10 on the kitchen table, or better yet, in front of the TV for a true “dinner and movie” experience. While Dad picks out his movie of choice, you can prep the steak and veggies for easy grilling on the tabletop.

For the grilled steak, coffee is a secret ingredient that works as a double whammy: it helps tenderize the steak while also adding a well-rounded and savory flavor. The fresh garlic marinade adds a sweet, spicy, and umami finishing flourish, and the charred veggies make the perfect pairing for the main course.

Before you turn in for the night, remember that the grills and griddles should be cleaned after every use. First, use a paper towel or soft cloth to wipe off burnt foods while the plate is warm. Then the plate or grill should be hand washed with a soft sponge and a mild dishwashing liquid. Don’t forget the underside of the grills and be sure to not submerge the plate in water! The plate should be wiped with a well-wrung sponge and finally wiped dry with a soft cloth. Don’t forget to give the control knob and base a wipe too, so it’s not greasy next time.

Now that the day of grilling is over, how did it go? Did you have any great adventures with Dad? Do you have any other Father’s Day recipes you’d like to share that you can make on the Indoor Electric Grill EB-DLC10? Let us know by reaching out on social and by tagging your photos with #Zojirushi on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!