My Version of Niku Jaga
My dear friend Bunny shared this recipe with me quite some time ago. It quickly became one of my family's very most favorite things to eat. You may notice that my version does not look quite like the one in the recipe she sent me. This is because we can all agree on the beef and potatoes, but the other items are considered optional for my guys. That's why I give them a plate of things to choose from to add to their bowl:
This time it was chopped re-constituted dried mushrooms, steamed green cabbage, braised celery, braised white onions, green peas (for me!), and cooked somen noodles anointed with a bit of dark sesame oil to keep them from sticking (Thomas wanted the noodles instead of potatoes).
The recipe calls for dashi soup stock, of which I had none. So... what I did was simmer the trimmings from the cabbage, celery, and onions with some shredded seaweed that I had on hand. It made a passable soup stock for this dish. I've seen some recipes that say you can use plain water, but I don't think I'd like that. I've also used plain veggie stock or plain beef stock when making this dish. It works also. Also, most recipes say to just slice the beef thinly and add it to the stock to cook. Since I was using a tougher cut of beef I sliced it thin and precooked it by browning in a bit of canola oil first then proceeding as per the recipe on about.com. That's the reason my broth is darker than other versions. I just added the stock to the pan I'd browned the meat in, using those yummy bits on the bottom of the pan. But they just added to the flavor.
To serve I just filled up the bowls with the beef (and potato) and broth and let the guys choose the accompaniments they wanted. I was low on veggies when I made this (just 4 little taters) but the accompaniments are usually varied anyway, depending on what I have. I have served this with snow peas, thinly sliced carrots, plain egg omelets sliced thin, kale or other greens, water chestnuts... whatever I feel like at the time or the guys ask for... use your imagination.
This soup is so easy to make. It's like a beef stew, so works great for winter, but isn't as thick so also works for summertime, too.
P.S. Don't laugh at me Carol, I know the way I make it isn't strictly traditional, but it works for my family and it's still the basic dish. I think so, anyway. :-)