Savory Japanese Beef & Vegetables/Curry Rice

This month’s recipe delivers a leftovers transformation that might be even better than the first night!

Half of photo is niku-jaga in a bowl and other half is curry rice made with niku-jaga leftorvers
Serve the classic Japanese mom comfort food called niku-jaga (tender beef, potatoes and vegetables simmered in a savory sauce), then add instant curry to the leftovers the next night for Niku-jaga Curry Rice.

Savory Beef & Vegetable Simmer

Makes 4 servings (or two servings the first night, and two the second)

4 potatoes, peeled
2 carrots, peeled
2 onions, peeled
12 oz. (340g) flavorful beef (I use ribeye)
2.5 c. (600ml) dashi (Japanese soup stock, which can be made with water and 2 t. instant Hon Dashi* granules)
2 T. (25g) sugar
2 T. (30ml) mirin (sweet rice wine)
4 T. (60ml) sake
5 T. (75ml) soy sauce
1 box Japanese hot or medium-hot curry roux mix (see below)
Optional extras:
8 mushrooms, stems removed, sliced (add with other vegetables)
1 Japanese eggplant, sliced and browned in oil (add this to the curry at the end)

Cut carrots into chunks, slicing on the diagonal and rolling carrot a quarter turn before each slice. Set aside.

Knife cutting carrots

Cut potatoes into bite-sized chunks. Set aside. Peel onions, cut in half, then into thick chunks.

Bowls of cut carrots, potatoes and onions
When there are bubbles around the edge and swirling in the middle, it’s time to take it off the stove.

Heat oil in a large soup pot and sauté onions until soft and beginning to brown. Set aside.

Slice beef as thin as you can.

Knife making thin slices of raw ribeye steak

Heat a little more oil in the soup pot and sauté beef until browned. Add vegetables to beef and combine, then pour in hot dashi broth. Bring to a boil. Add sugar, mirin and sake, then simmer, covered, for five minutes. Add the soy sauce. Cover and simmer for ten more minutes, until vegetables are cooked.

And ta-daaa! Your first night’s dinner is ready to eat. Japanese grandmothers serve it in a bowl, with rice on the side.

Niku-jaga in a bowl
This is the Japanese childhood comfort food known as niku-jaga, the Japanese equivalent of chicken soup.

Now, on to the…

Curry Rice

To make your Savory Beef & Vegetables into curry rice, you’ll need a box of Japanese instant curry. It comes in various degrees of spiciness: sweet, medium hot or hot. (For reference, those are much milder than the Indian or Thai scales of spiciness.)

Boxes of S&B Golden Curry

Heat your niku-jaga leftovers to boiling, then open up the curry roux packet and break the roux into blocks.

Fill a soup ladle with broth, drop a block of roux into it, and (with your other hand) stir the bowl of the ladle with a small whisk (or chopsticks) until the curry block dissolves in the broth.

Stirring roux into curry rice using a ladle and whisk

Give the entire pot a stir, and do it again, whisking the curry blocks into the broth one by one, until the sauce is thick and rich, like gravy. (You probably won’t use the whole box of curry roux.)

Serve over rice.

Niku-jaga curry rice on a plate

*You can buy instant Hon-Dashi at Asian markets or online

Photo of Hon-dashi instant dashi granules
Hon-Dashi granules

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Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Tokyo, produces the monthly Japanagram newsletter, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

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