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Insanely Easy Nikujaga Recipe (Meat & Potatoes – Japanese style)

Now, most folks think that Japanese food is all about white rice, seaweed, and raw fish.

But fortunately, beef and potatoes are a big deal here, too.

I mean, just take a look at our town mascot, Jagata-kun (little, fat potato boy)...

(We also get a ton of snow around here which explains why little, fat potato boy is wearing a pair of skis and a hat).

Now, nikujaga (literally "meatpotatoes") is quick and easy to make, tastes incredible and will change your "raw fish and seaweed" perception of Japanese food forever.

But here's the big question? "Won't this make me put on a bunch of body fat?"

After all, this was the standout meal of my n=1 experiment where I consumed unlimited food for a year and piled on over 55lbs.

But in reality, I also ate nikujaga while losing the weight, too - ending up a whopping 61lbs lighter in just 27 weeks.

Like we always say, whether a food is healthy or unhealthy ultimately comes down to the amount being eaten and the context in which it's being consumed.

The bottom line is you can eat nikujaga while getting fat, getting a 6-pack or anything in between.

So it will work for just about anyone!

The Ingredients

1lb of well-marbled beef, cut into bite-size pieces

Japanese beef

3 medium-size potatoes, cut into large cubes

1 medium-size onion, sliced

1 large carrot, cut into thick slices


2 oz. cellophane noodles (also known as crystal noodles/glass noodles)


4 tbsp. soy sauce

4 tbsp. sake (rice wine)

4 tbsp. mirin

14 fl. oz. ml water

The How

1. Heat a large skillet or casserole dish on a medium heat, add the meat and fry until brown, stirring continuously

(As this meat was really well marbled, I didn't use any oil. For leaner beef, add 1 to 2 tbsp. of olive oil)

2. Add all the vegetables to the same skillet/casserole dish, and fry until the onions are cooked through, stirring continuously

3. Add the water, soy sauce, mirin and sake, lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes are cooked (~20 minutes), stirring occasionally

Niku jaga - cooking

4. Add the cellophane noodles to the skillet/casserole dish for the last 4-5 minutes of cooking

5. Serve in a bowl with some rice on the side

It should now look something like this (confession - I didn't use cellophane noodles this time because my sons usually end up picking them out...)

Nutrition Information

In total, this recipe contains around 2000 Calories and 105 grams of protein, so figure on a per-person total of around 650-1000 Calories and 35-50 grams of protein.

That's way fewer calories than a Domino's 12" Cheese Only Thin Crust Pizza (1320 Calories, 56 grams of protein), so it's nikujaga for the win!

Serving Suggestion

Have your nikujaga with a cup of steamed white rice (300 Calories, 5 grams of protein), some steamed broccoli or a side salad (remember to go easy on the dressing)

And if you like spicy food, shaking a little chili powder over your nikujaga will give it a nice kick.

Now, although nikujaga isn't super-low in calories like our cajun chicken or beef stir fry recipes are, it really helps you feel full thanks to the protein and boiled potatoes.

Yep, potatoes are one of the most satiating foods out there!


So, nikujaga is a surefire winner in every respect.

But Dude, What About the Soy?

OK, some folks believe that soy can send testosterone levels through the floor, although there's no compelling evidence that this is true.

However, there is one thing you need to keep in mind about soy sauce and that's how it can affect your bodyweight.

Now, over the past 8 months or so I've gotten in the habit of weighing myself upon waking every day and recording the result in the plain-Jane Health app on my iPhone.

(Health Data > Body Measurements > Weight > Add Data Point >)

And I've noticed that after a big soy sauce/salt-rich meal, bodyweight can skyrocket literally overnight.

Here's an extreme example of what happened the day following an awesome Chinese feast loaded with salt and soy sauce.

But rest assured that this kind of rapid weight gain (or weight loss) is almost always down to changes in nothing more exciting than body water levels.

So, kick back, relax, and enjoy your soy sauce.

Nikujaga Brings it Home

If you want to be a real ninja in the kitchen, there's no better recipe to add to your culinary arsenal than this awesome nikujaga.

Some decent beef, a few veggies, a single casserole dish/skillet and you're good to go.

In fact, it's so quick and delicious that it almost feels like cheating!

But let's just keep that between us, OK?

– Tim

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Reference: A Satiety Index of common foods

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