Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chicken and Taters - Japanese Style!

Since my family and I don't generally eat beef, my mother and I both have modified a number of recipes by substituting turkey or chicken. The Japanese dish nikujaga (meat-potato), Japan's version of British beef stew, is just such a dish. Using chicken instead of meat (beef or occasionally pork), I make what I have dubbed torijaga (chicken-potato). It's a ridiculously easy dish that takes about half an hour to make.

First, assemble the ingredients: potatoes (cubed), chicken (thinly sliced), onion (chopped), sugar, soy sauce, and soup stock. The recipe I copied down into my notebook doesn't include amounts, so I suggest using your best judgement for how much you want to make. I've included pictures so you can see what I did. It made about two servings, both of which I ate. You can use a chicken breast or, as I did this time, two chicken thighs, which I think I actually preferred.
First I cup up a handful of onion. The recipe says to cut the onion into 2x2x3cm pieces, but as you can see in the picture, I didn't do that. I've discovered that it is difficult to be so precise with onions. Once they were sliced, I tossed them in the frying pan and moved onto the potatoes, which also wanted to be cut into 2x2x3cm chunks. Much easier to do with potatoes! I had a bag of small potatoes, and ended up cutting up 3 of them. How many you need greatly depends on what kind of potato you use. Again, use your best judgement, and I have provided a picture.
The potatoes followed the onions into the pan, and were soon followed by the sliced chicken thighs (again, you may use a chicken breast if you prefer). After letting everything sizzle together for a few minutes, add enough water to more or less cover everything. Then add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, the same amount of sugar, and a dash of soup stock of your choice. Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. The recipe doesn't say what setting, but I set my stove to medium heat.
There you have it! Quick, easy, and good for you! Torijaga. Or nikujaga if you don't use chicken. Or chicken and potatoes if your Japanese isn't so keen.

If you are interested in more home-cooked Japanese meals, check out Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen. And if you enjoy the ease of throwing everything into a pot on the stove and letting it cook, try Japanese Hot Pots: Comforting One-Pot Meals.

I hope I've shown that Japanese cooking is FAR more than raw fish, and sparked an interest in a few people. Go forth! Cook! Consume. Ja ne!

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