Nov 5

Slow Cooker Nikujaga (Japanese Stewed Beef and Potatoes)

in Japanese, Main Course, Meat, Recipes By Region, Recipes by Type, Slow Cooker

I love being able to throw a bunch of ingredients in a slow cooker, forget about them, and then have dinner “magically” appear in the pot at dinner time. Yesterday I woke up craving Nikujaga (肉じゃが, literally means “meat potato”), a kind of Japanese stewed dish of beef and potatoes (and sometimes other vegetables) that is simmered in a broth of dashi, sake, sugar, mirin, and soy sauce. This dish is one of the most popular Japanese dishes, though you probably won’t find it on any restaurant menu since this is a dish that a loving wife and mother has usually perfected for her family. As I was thinking about making this I decided to try and modify the recipe to work in a slow cooker.
I also added some other veggies that needed to be used. It turned out fabulously and totally hit the spot. The combination of succulent thinly sliced beef and hearty vegetables simmered in a broth that is slightly sweet and salty is extremely satisfying–comfort food at its best!

Slow Cooker Nikujaga (Japanese Stewed Beef and Potatoes)
La Fuji Mama

1/2 – 1 lb. beef (thinly sliced or cut into bite sized pieces) (fairly fatty beef is best)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 c. potatoes, chopped (you can substitute pumpkin or butternut squash for part or all of the potatoes)
1 large carrot, cut into rounds or short sticks
2-3 c. dashi (or water) (depending on how much liquid you’d like to end up with–I like mine with more!)*
2 Tbsp. sake (I substituted rice wine vinegar)
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. mirin
3 Tbsp. soy sauce

1. Heat oil in a pan. Add beef, making sure to separate all of the pieces and coat them with oil, and then brown over medium heat.

2. Add the onion, potatoes, and carrots and saute for about 5 minutes. Put the meat and vegetables into the slow cooker.

3. Add the dashi, soy, sugar, sake and miring, cover and cook on high heat for 4-6 hours, or until vegetables are tender.

*Make your own dashi stock–it’s SO easy! I like this recipe from Just Hungry:

Dashi Stock (ichiban dashi)
Recipe from Just Hungry Makes 3-4 cups of stock

1 4-inch (3-4 cm) piece of dried konbu
a good handful of bonito flakes
cold water, from the tap (you might consider filtering it if it is too hard or chlorinated)

Soak the dried konbu piece in 3-4 cups of cold water for about 20 minutes. Bring the water to a boil, then add the handful of bonito flakes. Immediately switch off the heat and let it sit for at least 5 minutes. Strain through a sieve, pressing out all the goodness.

Coming Tomorrow: Chocolate Almond Toffee, Chocolate Almond Toffee Cookies, and a Giveaway!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

K and S November 5, 2008 at 9:04 am

yum, love this dish, and I love that you used thick pieces of beef…I always use the thin pieces because I want it to cook FAST!


LollyChops November 5, 2008 at 12:24 pm

I have never even heard of this. I will have to see if I can track down all of the ingredients to make it.. I love a good beef stew!


Abigail November 5, 2008 at 7:00 pm

I just bought some beef chunks the other day from the co-op so I will try nikujaga your way! I’ve never made my own dashi but that recipe looks pretty easy. When you were in Japan did you add the stringy konyaku? I’m not a fan of the chunky style but I love the ito kind in the nikujaga. Some Japanese teachers I worked with at a middle school in Aichi taught me their mother’s way to make nikujaga and it is SO good, but so time consuming. I’ll try it this way! I bet everybody here will love it, even the Toddler Bean himself.


Bob November 6, 2008 at 11:04 am

That looks so good. I wonder if I can get all those Japanese ingredients around here…


magikjaz November 6, 2008 at 6:07 pm

i seriously need a slow cooker to try this recipe! YUM!!!


Poppy and Mei November 10, 2008 at 8:28 pm

Oh you have made me very "home" sick!
We just got back to Oz from spending over 10 years in Japan, both my babies were born there!
Please feel free to visit us any time & thanks for the great recipe! XXxx


Robert Madewell February 9, 2016 at 12:26 pm

I’ve made this with a few different types of meat. Pork and Chicken breast works quite well with this recipe. I usually end up with a lot of food with this recipe. The left overs are wonderful. I serve it on a bed of jasmine rice. To die for. Unlike some Japanese recipes, this one is certainly a recipe you can play around with. Usually, when I make this, I use whatever vegetables are needing to be used up in my fridge. It works well with turnips, celery, snap peas, squash, broccoli, etc. Like I said, lots of meats would probably be just fine. Don’t sub the mirin, soy sauce or the dashi. Those are the ingredients that gives this dish that Japanese flair. I still don’t understand why you’d use sake if you’re using mirin. Those two are very similar. Adding a tablespoon more of mirin would probably make up for the sake. Anyhoos, great recipe.


Hiromi April 13, 2020 at 10:27 pm

Do the beef chucks get tender enough before the veggies overcook?


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