The Guy's Two-Step Nikujaga (Japanese meat and potatoes)


It’s been a long while, but yes, I am back blogging!

This is a simple recipe for nikujaga, or Japanese style stewed meat and potatoes, from The Guy. Initially he was following the basic recipe I had given him, but he decided to pare it down so that he didn’t have to look at the instructions every time he made it. The result is this very easy two-step version, which is just as good as the original.

Nikujaga is great for bentos. You can make it the day before too, since it improves in flavor after the potatoes have had a chance to drink up plenty of the cooking liquid. It is a bit soupy though, so I would recommend carrying it in a leakproof container. it tastes great cold, or you can heat it up in a microwave for a minute or so. Since it’s full of potatoes you don’t even need to pack any rice if you want to keep the calorie and carb count down.

Recipe: The Guy’s Two-Step Nikujaga (Japanese meat and potatoes)


This makes enough for several servings. Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Don’t freeze, since frozen cooked potatoes turn very mushy and unpleasant.

  • 2 lbs (1 kg) boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 knob of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 8 oz / 200 g ground beef or pork
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant dashi granules (available at any Japanese grocery store; probably available at a general Asian store)
  • 2 tablespoons sake or dry sherry (OMIT if you can’t use alcohol for some reason in cooking)
  • Water

Step 1: Heat up a pan with sesame oil. Put in the onion, ginger, ground meat and sauté until the meat is browned. Add the potatoes and sauté a couple more minutes.

Step 2: Add the rest of the ingredients, plus enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring up to a boil the lower to a simmer. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are cooked through - about 20 minutes. Adjust the seasoning at the end with a bit more soy sauce if needed.

Store in the cooking liquid.

From the Guy: “The chopped green onion is just garnish to make it look pretty, and can be omitted.”

Can anything be more simple yet so tasty? I rather doubt it.

Follow and Like our Facebook Page! And visit our sister site, Just Hungry


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Re: The Guy's Two-Step Nikujaga (Japanese meat and ...

I need to make this! It looks very appetizing.. (..BTW, welcome back!!)

Re: The Guy's Two-Step Nikujaga (Japanese meat and ...

Welcome back! It's great to have you blogging again at Just Bento. Have been looking forward to it. Best wishes to you.

Re: The Guy's Two-Step Nikujaga (Japanese meat and ...

Funny thing? I made it today for some in-work-bento :D In the simplified version I kinda thought out on my own :P
Tasty like hell and great food for the winter!

Re: The Guy's Two-Step Nikujaga (Japanese meat and ...

Oh, this looks so yummy, I might have to make this tonight. And it's so awesome to see you back! :D

I recently googled "kabocha squash recipe" and was lucky enough to have my attention brought to justhungry's recipe for sweet and spicy roasted kabocha squash. I've made it three times in the last two weeks. It's like a drug... a very addictive drug... an instant favourite, thank you so much for sharing it.

Re: The Guy's Two-Step Nikujaga (Japanese meat and ...

I'm going to make this with some frozen peas, carrots and/or parsnips. Then it'll be a true one pot bento. Welcome back.

Re: The Guy's Two-Step Nikujaga (Japanese meat and ...

Looks fantastic, adding ingredients to my grocery list now!

Re: The Guy's Two-Step Nikujaga (Japanese meat and ...

If I wanted to make a vegetarian version, could I sub the meat for tofu? Either way, this looks great!

Re: The Guy's Two-Step Nikujaga (Japanese meat and ...

Yay! I missed you!

Re: The Guy's Two-Step Nikujaga (Japanese meat and ...

Nice, I love simple recipes that don't need much of preparation and attention ;)
Simple question: what vegetables could you eat it with ?

Re: The Guy's Two-Step Nikujaga (Japanese meat and ...

Greetings from the north of Greece Maki! So happy to see you back and to see this particular recipe. My bf and I discovered Nikujawa in a film and since then make it very often! I am so happy to see a lighter version of it with the ground beef.. I will make this on Monday!!! :)
Again, glad to see you are back!!!! :)

Re: The Guy's Two-Step Nikujaga (Japanese meat and ...

The recipe looks yum. I must try it. Is there a reason you recommend Sesame Oil in particular?

Re: The Guy's Two-Step Nikujaga (Japanese meat and ...

It adds great toasty/nutty flavor!

Re: The Guy's Two-Step Nikujaga (Japanese meat and ...

So great to see you again!

I did this the evening I read the recipe....Great taste!
There is just one flaw: This is so yummy, me and my guy had to eat it all at once and had still appetite for more....

Re: The Guy's Two-Step Nikujaga (Japanese meat and ...

can i use ground turkey or chicken? i dont eat pork or beef...

Re: The Guy's Two-Step Nikujaga (Japanese meat and ...

Maki-san, glad you're back! ^.^

Re: The Guy's Two-Step Nikujaga (Japanese meat and ...


I'm new here. Just bought a bento box. This is a nice recipe. Like cooking in the classic cuisine, you can break down this one in prep and mise-en-place, to finish it in 10 minutes. Here my variations.

Jacket potatos, peeled. Carrots antpasti (generally antipasti, tapas are fine for bentoing). Prepared Stock (you can freeze it in an ice cube container, so you can add exatly what you need.

Put the potatos in pieces. Add the carrots. Onion, ginger, meat roasting in a pan then at the end adding the stock ice cubes. Instead of sake and dashi you can take a little bit of AVERNA, an italian spicy Liquor, to make it more continental. It is made with sugar, so there is no need then for additional sugar.

Put all in the bento box. Later 2 minutes in the microwave.

On top fresh chives, in an extra little box.

The teammates will go green with envy.

Even if you work in your own stile, bento is a great concept. And this is a great site. I have a sakura bento box tile on my desktop for the shortcut.



Re: The Guy's Two-Step Nikujaga (Japanese meat and ...

Hi Maki,

I use your recipe for nikujaga all the time, although lately I haven't needed to google 'just hungry nikujaga' before I start cooking, since I have it committed to memory! I live with my Japanese boyfriend, and sometimes it's hard to find comfort food that suits both of us. This is like the stew my mother used to make, except I don't need to mess around with corn starch and flour. Also I love mirin. Thank you as always!!! <3

Re: The Guy's Two-Step Nikujaga (Japanese meat and ...

This turned out delicious! Shared recipe with my brother the Cook in Seattle. Thanks, Maki and The Guy..Jamie in KY So happy to "hear" from you!

Re: The Guy's Two-Step Nikujaga (Japanese meat and ...


I love you sites! Thank you for continuing to write and make us all happy! I made this yesterday and put it in the crock pot. It was very good! However, I had to add lots more seasonings because it tasted really, really bland, which I am not used to from Japanese cooking. I just added loads more soy sauce, more sake, more dashi stock. I felt I needed UMAMI, but didn't quite know how else to achieve that. Potatoes suck up a lot of flavor, that's why when dishes are overly salted you put potatoes in to counteract that. Do you have any idea for me how to season this dish to have more Umami besides what I did? Any help would be appreciated! Thank you much!

Re: The Guy's Two-Step Nikujaga (Japanese meat and ...

Maki, I just wanted to stop in and say how glad I am you have this recipe up! My dad used to make this (or something very similar) when I was a kid. Having never gotten the recipe, trying this now brings back memories of the one he used to make. It's delicious and easy, thanks so much for posting it!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.