Modernized Niku Jaga
We recently started subscribing to Marquita Farm‘s weekly CSA box. It has been fantastic for ensuring that we eat all our recommended veggies. We have to get through the entire box before it arrives again the following week. Our new CSA box arrives today. Aside from the incentive of wanting to have room in our refrigerator for other things too, having a selection of vegetables that I wouldn’t ordinarily choose allows for thinking outside the box (or in this case, I guess, inside our CSA box) when making tried and true dishes, like Niku Jaga, that don’t usually get messed around with.
My mother is Japanese. Growing up we had Japanese food at least twice a week and during the times my dad was away, most every day. Though we didn’t have Niku Jaga growing up, we had other traditional dishes like Oden, Soba, Oknomiyaki and Yakiniku.
Oddly enough I tried a chicken version of it for the first time during a restaurant stage in New Zealand in the form of a staff meal that Chef Koji-san made for us. I still remember the odd look he gave me when I asked what was in it. I was a bit embarrassed to not know. Which is why once back at home in my own kitchen in San Francisco, I decided to learn how to make it. It kind of felt obligatory in the ‘don’t you know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich?’ kind of way.
We’ve been back for a while now, maybe even a year and a half. Since then we’ve had this dish at least once a month. Though in the earlier stages, when I was still very very excited about learning this dish, several times a month.
For this version I used: new potatoes, thin slice rib eye, chatanay carrots, watermelon radish, dashi stock, ginger, mirin, sake, winter soy sauce, a tad bit of cane sugar. Garnish – thin sliced french breakfast radish and thinly sliced baby leeks. The bolded items are not usually used in this dish.
I don’t really have a recipe for this, but for scaffolding you could use ‘just hungry’s version. I generally add a lot more sake and adjust the seasoning to taste. For example, the soy sauce is your salt. The dashi stock, your base. Sugar and root veg are your sweetness.
I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. It tasted more lively and spring-like than the usual Niku Jaga.
Other than that, we’re still working on getting those invitations out; and I’m working on a blanket. Oh, and the laundry’s clean. Yay, me.