Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Root Vegetable Nikujaga with Oyster Mushrooms

If you don't know by now, I'm constantly on the hunt for simple foods I can throw together quickly and easily.  While keeping up on the latest news one fine morning, I saw an easy recipe for a Japanese-style beef stew called "nikujaga" ("niku" means meat and "jaga" means "potato").  It really seemed like a no-brainer since I had been toying with the idea of making a beef stew for a while and this specific recipe really appealed to me because it didn't look or sound heavy at all.  It looked and sounded light and seemed like it could really fill you up without weighing you down.  However, I really wasn't all that thrilled with just having carrots and potatoes, given that there are other insanely awesome root vegetables (I mean, come ON... it's FALL!).  Plus, a couple of my really good friends (the main chefs for their families) had recently made their own beef stews and had completely omitted potatoes and instead used all the other root vegetables.  I quickly wondered if those root vegetables would also work for an Asian-style beef stew.

The result of my particular experiment was a huge success!  The key to this dish comes from being able to make sure the ginger is minced enough that you get the flavor melded nicely through and through without getting a bite of "ginger!".  The flavors of the root vegetables blend very well with each other in this light "soup" adding their own particular sweetness while absorbing all that deliciousness.  This will easily feed our family of four (actually, there's 7 of us because there's our two Housemates and one of Housemate's girlfriend is staying with us temporarily until their apartment becomes available) for the night.  And I say "for the night" quite literally because even though there is technically enough to feed my entire house for three nights, everybody has stuffed themselves silly because this stew IS so good AND it's so light.  (Honestly, I'm a little PO'd because I originally made this with freezing in mind (we do still have a sh!t ton of leftovers from my birthday shindig) and there's nothing left for me to even bring for my lunch tomorrow!)

Just an FYI:  This stew itself doesn't have a lot of liquid and whatever little is left will get reabsorbed into the root vegetables.  If you want more liquid, the taste will be more dilute but is still yummy nonetheless.  Anyhoo... try making this tonight for your family and bask in the glory of an insanely delicious beef stew that won't make you feel like a sack of bricks!

What you'll need:
-  2lbs ground beef

-  1 large yellow onion, diced

-  1 small celery root, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)

-  2 parsnips, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)

-  3 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)

-  3 carrots, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
I know, these aren't peeled... I got lazy!

-  3 tbsp of chopped (finely minced is preferable) fresh ginger

-  2 cups of coarsely chopped oyster mushrooms

-  1.5 cups of low sodium chicken stock (or if you want more liquid, add 3 cups)

-  1/2 cup coconut aminos

-  Chopped green onion

-  Sea salt (for taste)

1.  In large Dutch oven, heat about 4 tbsp of lard (or whatever your cooking fat of choice is) over medium heat.  Add ground beef and brown.


2.  Once beef is no longer pink, add ginger and mix thoroughly.  Let cook for about a minute.

3.  Add onions and mix everything together.  Stir occasionally until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.

4.  Add the root vegetables, chicken broth, and coconut aminos.  Don't worry if the vegetables aren't covered by the liquid.  Mix thoroughly.

5.  Cover and adjust heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, let simmer on LOW for at least 30 minutes.

6.  Add oyster mushrooms and mix.  Cover and let simmer for an additional 15 minutes.

7.  Adjust taste accordingly with some sea salt.

8.  Spoon into bowl, sprinkle on the chopped green onions, serve and enjoy!!!

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