Happy Donabe Life

Japanese Beef & Potato Stew


This hearty beef and potato stew is such a popular Japanese home dish among people from little kids to elders. While there are countless variations, for my nikujaga, I like to caramelize the onion before adding other ingredients. The onion gives nice rich layer of umami flavor to the dish. Miso-shiru Nabe always makes the perfect caramelized onion without having to constantly sauté it. I also add a lot of thinly sliced gingers for the accent.


Miso-shiru Nabe (large)




  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 medium-size onion, thinly-sliced
  • A pinch of salt
  • 14 oz (400 g) thinly-sliced (sukiyaki-thin slice) beef, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and very finely julienned fresh ginger
  • 8 oz (240 g) konnyaku shirataki (yam jelly noodles), cut into bite-size length
  • 14 oz (400 g) baby potatoes, peeled, or yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) sake
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups (300 ml to 360 ml) kombu and bonito dashi or your choice of dashi
  • 2 tablespoons raw brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white tamari or usukuchi shoyu (light-color soy sauce)
  • 4 oz (120 g) carrot, cut into oblique
  • shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice powder) as a condiment


  1. Combine the onion with sesame oil in Miso-shiru Nabe and set over medium heat. Add a pinch of salt and sauté. Once the onion starts to make sizzling sounds, turn down the heat to medium-low and continue to sauté until the onion is lightly caramelized (about 15 – 20 minutes).
  2. Increase the heat to medium-high, and add the beef. Continue to sauté until it’s mostly cooked.
  3. Add the ginger, konnyaku shirataki, and potatoes. Stir throughly.
  4. Add the sake and enough dashi to almost cover the surface of the contents.
  5. Add the sugar and mirin. Once the broth is almost boiling, turn the heat down to simmer. Meanwhile, skim as necessary.
  6. Line the surface with an otoshi buta (drop lid) or a piece of parchment paper. Cover with lid and simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Add the soy sauce, white tamari, and carrot, and continue to simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when tested with a toothpick.
  8. Turn off the heat and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  9. Serve into individual bowls and sprinkle some shichimi togarashi if you like.

Serving suggestion: Garnish with blanched green beans.


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