Nikujaga, literally ‘niku/meat, jaga/potato’ is said to have been invented by chefs of the Imperial Japanese Navy in the late 19th century. The story is, about 100 years ago, a Japanese student studying abroad, tasted beef stewed with demi-glace sauce, and brought home the idea that may have led to the original nikujaga. That student was the future Marshal-Admiral Marquis Tōgō Heihachirō, Fleet Admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy and one of Japan’s greatest naval heroes. Togo requested that a naval chef create a version of the beef stews he was served in the British Royal Navy. But the chef wasn’t familiar with demi-glace sauce. So instead, he made the dish with beef, potatoes, soy sauce, and sugar, which became the nikujaga we now know.
This claim is part of an ongoing campaign, beginning in 1895, to promote the city of Maizuru, Kyoto, which hosted an Imperial Japanese Navy base where Tōgō was stationed, as the birthplace of nikujaga. Also, the city of Kure, Hiroshima, responded in 1998 with a competing claim that Tōgō commissioned the dish while serving as chief of staff of the Kure naval base.
Nikujaga is one of the most popular family favorites always craved for in Japan.
Nikujaga • 肉じゃが • Meat Potato
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
• 680 g/ 1½ lb low-starch potatoes 
• 300 g/ 10 oz/1 large onion
• 300 g/ 10 oz/ 1 medium~large carrot
• 230 g/ ½ lb ‘thinly’ sliced beef, such as rib-eye or sukiyaki beef
• 12 ~ 16 snow peas, strings pulled off if needed -or- 1/3 cup green peas
• 200 g/ 7 oz/ 1 package shirataki / yam noodle
• 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
• 1 ½ cup hot water
• 2 2/3 Tbsp sugar
• 6 Tbsp low-sodium soy-sauce
• 4 Tbsp mirin (Mizkan honteri non-alcoholic mirin)
◊ Peel and cut potatoes into bite size. Cut onion in half and then in 1.5 cm/½” slices. Peel and cut carrot in 6 mm/ ¼” thick slices. If it is a thick carrot, use flower cutting molds ( see photo at the end) to visually enhance the dish as seen in the photo, or cut into half-circle slices . Cut beef slices into 7.5 cm/ 3” length pieces.
◊ In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil, add pinch of salt and boil snow peas (or green peas) for one minute, drain, rinse with cold water to cool down and set aside. In the same saucepan, repeat the exact same process with carrots. This is to keep the color of these vegetables vivid.
◊ Open shirataki package (though it is not a sea product but a yam product, the preserved liquid smells like fish. Once the liquid is drained and rinsed, the smell will disappear). In same sauce pan (above) add water and boil shirataki for 5 minutes, drain, rinse and let it further drain in the colander. Use kitchen scissors to make a couple of cuts into the shirataki to make noodles shorter and easier to eat.
◊ In a small bowl, combine soy sauce and mirin.
◊ In a medium non-stick pot, add 1 Tbsp oil and on medium-high-heat, sauté cut onions until edges are turning brown, and empty into a bowl.
◊ In the same pot, add 1 Tbsp oil and on medium-high-heat, sauté cut potatoes for 1~2 minutes and empty into a separate bowl.
◊ Add the last 1 Tbsp oil to the same pot and on medium-high-heat. Once the oil is heated, sauté meat until it starts turning brown. Add sugar and stir well.
◊ Add half of sautéed onion, all of sautéed potatoes, shirataki and hot water (½ cup at a time, just enough water to half-way cover ingredients… may not need to use all 1½ cup). Bring to a boil and lower heat to medium-low-heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.
◊ Add soy-sauce and mirin mixture and continue to simmer until potato is cooked (when poked with a skewer, it should go through smoothly).
◊ While still simmering, add blanched snow peas, carrots and other half of sautéed onion. Stir gently, simmer for one more minute and turn off heat. Keep lid on pot until time to serve. Serve with cooked Japanese rice.
Option: Gobo roots also go very well with this dish. (See here about gobo.)
~ どうぞめしあがれ • Douzo Meshiagare ~
 Potato starch content varies, which affects the texture in cooking:
♦ High-starch potatoes, such as russets, have a light, mealy texture. Once boiled, they are ideal for mashing.
♦ Medium-starch potatoes, such as Finnish yellow and Yukon gold, contain more moisture so they don’t fall apart quite as easily as high-starch potatoes.
♦ Low-starch potatoes, such as round red, round white, and new potatoes, are often called waxy potatoes. They hold their shape better than other potatoes when boiled, making them perfect for potato salads or tossing with seasoned butter as a side dish.
So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?