Nikujaga, braised meat and potatoes, is common home cooking in Japan. For many it resembles “o-fukuro no aji“, taste of mom’s cooking.
Nikujaga (for 4 persons)
200g thinly sliced beef (pork can be used too)
4 medium sized potatoes
1 medium sized onion
1 pack of shirataki
1 1/2 tbs vegetable oil
2 cups of dashi
2/3 cup sake
3 tbs sugar
3 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs mirin
green beans for garnish
1) Peel the potatoes and cut in chunks. Round the edges and put in cold water for 10 mins. (Beveling the edges prevents potatoes getting mashed when simmering.)
2) Peel the carrot and cut in same-sized chunks with the potatoes. Peel the onion and cut to moon-shaped slices. Cut also the meat in bite-sized strips. Boil the shirataki quickly.
3) Heat the oil in a large pot and fry the potatoes, carrot and onion until the surfaces absorb the oil. Add dashi, sake and shirataki, and let boil for 5 mins.
4) Add the sugar and the meat, turn the heat to strong and let boil while skimming off the scum.
5) Add soy sauce and mirin, and turn the heat to medium. Make a drop-lid from foil and let simmer covered until the vegetables are soft.
6) Boil the green beans and cut diagonally. Put nikujaga in serving bowls and garnish with green beans.
I had a chance to make a short trip to Kyoto. Winter is off-season, so there are only few events going on in the city, but as there are also much less tourists than in peak seasons, it’s a good time to stroll around numerous temples and shrines of the old capital.
Some temples designated to important cultural assets are opening normally closed parts of the properties to the public, as in Myoushin-ji temple complex associated with Rinzai Zen Buddhism. To celebrate the New Year, the Tourin-in temple was serving Azukikayu (red bean porrige) and fukucha (lucky tea for New Year) shoujin ryori set.
First came the fukucha with a variety of sweets and fruits hoping to bring happiness for the year. After all the sweets came the red bean porridge with various side dishes, all vegetarian of course, as shoujin ryouri should be.
Kinmedai, or Splendid alfonsino, as its English name goes, is a bright red fish with white flesh. As many other deep sea fish, it is as its best in winter. It makes a highly nourishing meal when boiled in soy sauce based stock.
Kinmedai no Nitsuke (for 2 persons)
2 cuts of kinmedai
1cm cut of ginger
3tbs soy sauce
some greens (the photo is komatsuna, but also scallion, spinach etc. can be used)
1) Peel the ginger and cut to thin slices.
2) Mix sake, soy sauce, mirin and sugar and put to a frying pan. Add also ginger slices. Turn the heat on.
3) When the stock starts to boil, put the fish to the pan with skin side facing up.
4) Make a temporary lid from foil and put on the fish so that it covers it without leaving space between the foil and the fish. Boil for 6 mins with medium heat.
5) Take off the lid and boil another 3 mins pouring the stock on the fish at the same time.
6) Take the fish out of the pan (leave the stock), and add the greens. Boil and mix quickly, pour some stock on the greens.
7) Serve with rice and miso soup.
Other fish can be used too, for example cod, flounder, sea bass etc.
This is a simple winter pasta that uses Welsh onion which is at its best in winter. It is also a bit spicy, and thus warms you up in cold winter days.
Negipasta (for 2 persons)
2 whole negi (Welsh onions)
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 dried chili cut in rings
2 tsp oyster sauce
Salt & pepper
Good olive oil
1) Boil the spaghetti in salted water.
2) Peel and grate garlic cloves. Cut the negi to 2cm thick slanted slices. Use also the green part!
3) Put 3 tbs of olive oil to a frying pan and fry the garlic and chili over low heat.
4) Turn to middle heat and add half of the Welsh onions. Fry slightly, then add 3 tbs of pasta’s boiling water. Mix well.
5) Add boiled pasta and rest of the onions. Add also oyster sauce and mix well. Sprinkle some salt & pepper to taste.
This is popular dish in Japan as it is quick and easy to cook, and with its ginger flavor is loved both by children and adults.
Ginger Sautéed Pork 豚肉の生姜焼き (for 2 persons)
200g thinly sliced pork loin
1 tsp fresh ginger juice
2 tsp sake
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs sake
1/2 tbs sugar
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tbs mirin
1/2 tbs grated ginger
1) Spread out each pork loin slice fully and cut to bite-sized pieces. Place the pork on a metal tray and pour the ginger juice mixed with sake on the meat. Let stand about 5 mins and wipe off the moisture.
2) Mix the ingredients of the sauce.
3) Heat the oil on a fry pan and spread the pork slices fully on the pan. Fry on medium heat, and when the meat is heated through, pour the sauce in to cover the pork thoroughly.
4) Arrange on plate, garnish with shredded cabbage and cherry tomatoes.