This article was originally published in the March 2023 issue of CONNECT.

Alexandra Crombie (Gunma)


I stole this recipe from a co-worker after she generously surprised me with some for lunch last month. I work at a senior high school so we aren’t provided with kyushoku, and as a result I had been surviving on onigiri and various flavours of crisps. This stew was a welcome variation from my normal lunch, and left me feeling very satisfied. Its name, nikujaga, translates to “meat and potato stew.” It is a great one-pot dish, and is easy to make in bulk so you can enjoy it for lunch throughout the week. 

It is not vegetarian, but I obviously accepted and enjoyed the stew anyway. You could easily replace the beef with more vegetables, but the dashi stock is less easily substituted. My best recommendation would be vegetable stock.



200g beef slices
2 large potatoes
1 carrot
1 onion
80g shirataki noodles
2 tbsp sake
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar
100ml dashi stock
1 tsp vegetable oil 


  1. Prepare the vegetables. Peel and quarter the potatoes. Chop the carrot up into decent size chunks. Dice the onion. 
  2. Parboil the shirataki noodles.
  3. Fry the beef in a pan with the vegetable oil until browned, then take off the heat.
  4. Heat a large, deep pan over a medium heat. Stir-fry the vegetables with the beef for five minutes. 
  5. Add the sake and noodles to the vegetables and cook for around three minutes. Make sure to stir the vegetables to keep them from burning. If they do start to burn, throw in a teaspoon of water.
  6. Add in the soy sauce, sugar, and dashi. Leave this to simmer with the lid on for ten minutes. 
  7. After ten minutes, stir the contents of the pan and use a spoon to cover the ingredients with the broth. Let it simmer for a further ten minutes.
  8. Take the pan off the heat and leave it to cool for twenty minutes. Make sure it has cooled before you reheat it, as the cooling process enhances the flavours. 
  9. Reheat the stew, and enjoy!


Alexandra Crombie is a first-year JET living in Gunma Prefecture. Her favourite colour is a dark, muted blue, and she likes to spend her free time camping or exploring with friends. She also enjoys watching copious numbers of films.