Japanify: Nikujaga aka Mick Jagger
Whenever I take a test, I always make associations between certain things in my life so that I will memorize keywords. Sometimes the explanations get really long but sometimes they come to me very quickly and concisely. Sometimes associated words come to me when I am not studying a test, which is the case for our dish today, nikujaga.
Ever since I can remember whenever I hear nikujaga I always think of Mick Jagger because they sounds so alike. Nevermind that I already know what nikujaga is (simmered meat and potatoes), or that no one will ever quiz me on the contents of the dish, but I will forever associate nikujaga with Mick Jagger--like Seigfried and Roy.
Here's a food list of useless associations based on phonetics:
Nikujaga (Japanese meat and potatos) = Mick Jagger
Bibimbap (Korean rice bowl dish) = Bibinba (controversial Sanrio character from the 70's)
Banchan (Korean small dishes) = Baba-chan (my grandma)
Youtiao (Chinese fried donuts) = Utah
Tahdig (Persian crunchy rice) = Tay Diggs
Nikujaga is the ultimate comfort food in a Japanese household. It literally means "meat and potatoes" (niku= meat, jaga=potatoes). People on either sides of the Pacific debate about how different Japanese and American foods are, but the fact that both cultures find comfort in meat 'n potatoes confirms that even if one culture shits on warmed toilet seats... the bottom line is that we all share the same DNA sequence.
1/2 lb pork shoulder cut into thin slices
3 Russet potatoes
2 carrots (optional, big bite-size pieces)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp oil
4 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sugar
4 cups water
1. Cut potatoes into sixths. Cut onions into bite-size pieces. Mince the garlic and slice the pork into 1/4 inch thick slices.
2. In a large pot, heat oil on high. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and meat. Cook on med-hi for a few minutes until the meat is not pink.
3. Add the potatoes, onions and carrots (if you have them) into the pot. Cook all the ingredients for a few minutes.
4. Add the 4 cups of water. Then add mirin, shoyu and sugar.
Bring to a gentle roll and skim any scum that rises to the surface.
5. Adjust the heat so that the ingredients simmer gently. If you have an otoshibuta, lay it over the ingredients. If not, cover the pot with a lid.
6. Let simmer for 20 minutes.
7. Serve immediately with rice. Pack up leftovers in air-tight plastic containers. They will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
Nikujaga is not a dish to impress guests with exotic flavors or ingredients. It's a dish to make your friends and family feel like they are at home.
If you ever have a Japanese house guest, blow their mind by putthing this simple, piping hot dish onto the table and proclaim, "Mick Jagger!" It will probably be the best moment during their entire trip.