Nikujaga is a Japanese meat and potato stew. I saw the recipe on Honest Vanilla a couple of months back and saved it for when the weather cooled down. Well the weather is definitely cooled down here in Sydney!
The recipe also suggests you make your own homemade dashi stock as the base for the stew. I easily found bonito flakes (dried fish flakes) in the asian grocery but I was unable to find a piece of kelp. So I substituted with these dried seavegetables.
I soaked about a cup of the dry seavegetables in about 3 cups of water for a couple of hours, I then strained the water into a saucepan. I brought this to a simmer and then added 6g of bonito flakes. I was expecting to gag when I opened the packet but actually they smelt really nice, like smoky fish. I turned the heat off and let this sit for 5 minutes before straining out the flakes, this then became my dashi.
To make the stew I sauteed the onion and ginger before browning the meat (I used pork) and then adding in the potatoes. This is then covered with the dashi as well as some sugar (I only added 2 tbsp rather then 3), soy sauce, sake, mirin and sesame oil. I left this to cook uncovered for 20 minutes at which point the potatoes were cooked and the sauce mostly reduced. Before serving I mixed in some sliced fresh savoy cabbage.
This dish was so delicious and an excellent comfort food. I have not cooked much Japanese food and it was different to what I have tried before, I was really pleasantly surprised. The stock offered such an interesting background flavour from the sea vegetables and the bonito. I will be cooking it again.