This post originally appeared on Hipster Housewife on March 10, 2011.
This winter I found an amazing recipe for Nikujaga, a Japanese meaty stew. It looked so good and hearty, I had to give it a vegetarianizing go.
The basic recipe is simple enough:
- one large onion
- a half pound of beef
- one large carrot
- two large potatoes
- 14 ounces of shirataki noodles (I used about six ounces of udon)
- two cups of dashi
- one T vegetable oil
- three T sugar
- five T soy sauce
- five T sake (Rice wine vinegar is a better option for vegans. There isn’t a ton of info on vegan sake, though most sake contains neither gelatin nor bone charcoal.)
In the orginal post Tara says the meat can “probably” be swapped out for mushrooms, so I set my sights on replacing dashi, which is a fish-based soup stock.
A little research and I found that I could boil my half pound of portabella mushrooms in two cups of water for 45 minutes to start a dashi-replacement base.
At the end I tossed in five sheets of shredded kelp, strained everything out and BAM. Super savory, yumful dashi replacement. Nori is one of my favorite tastes in the WORLD, so I go heavy on the kelp.
From there, it was as simple as simmering the veggies in the dashi for an hour. Pick the mushrooms out of the strainer and add them in as well. Everything should be super tender and soak up some broth, so I let them err on the overcooked side.
I balked at the amount of sugar in the recipe the first time, but since Tara has chef credentials, I figured her proportions were right. Good bet! The combination of sweet-ish Yukon Gold potatoes, salty broth and sweet, sweet sugar makes a very umami dish. It’s such a delicious, warm, savory meal that nikujaga is my new favorite recipe.
Recipes from other cultures often take the ingredients we’re used to — like potatoes, onions, carrots and mushrooms — and combine them in new and delicious ways. Post your favorite international dish in the comments, and share the tasties.