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Bento Recipes: Niku Jyaga


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Yes, this is a Japanese recipe. Specifically, it's niku jyaga, the niku meaning "meat" and the jyaga short for jyagaimo, meaning potato. It's simmered beef & vegetables, primarily potatoes. Amazing how that works out, isn't it?

This'll stick to yer ribs.What you need:

    8 ounces of beef, thinly sliced
    1 onion
    1 tbsp vegetable oil
    About a pound of potatoes, preferably small
    1 carrot
     Peas (preferably frozen)
     1 tbsp sugar
    5 tbsp soy sauce
    1 tbsp mirin

Cut the potatoes into large bite-sized pieces and soak them in water. No need to peel them. Cut the carrot into 1/4 inch rounds. Slice the beef against the grain into half-to-3/4-inch-wide strips. Cut the onion into small pieces however you like. Mix the sugar, soy sauce, and mirin up in a cup.

Heat the vegetable oil in a deep pan or a pot and stir-fry the beef and onion. When the beef changes color, drain the potatoes and add them to the pan. Mix around well. When the potatoes are coated with the oil add the carrots. Add in just enough water to cover all this and bring to a boil. If goo forms on the top, skim it off.

Boil it vigorously for a few minutes. The recipe I found calls for then moving the potatoes to the bottom of the pot and the rest of the ingredients to the top, but as the only way I can see to do this is to take out everything but the potatoes and then put what you've taken out back on top, I just stir periodically to make sure everything gets cooked evenly. Turn the heat down to medium low and add in the sugar-soy-mirin mixture. Then let it simmer for 30 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through. (In theory you simmer it until the liquid is absorbed. I've never had that happen.) Take it off the heat, add the peas, and let it sit for a few minutes longer before serving.

The first time I made this I threw in a handful of crushed-up rice noodles to absorb some of the liquid. Those aren't a part of any version of the recipe I found, but as long as the results taste good who's counting?