Erika’s veggie niku-jaga


Erika Nagae, Community coordinator for Manchester and North Trafford, Action for Sustainable Living,

Action for Sustainable Living is a charity supporting individuals and their communities to make a difference. All of its projects – including Didsbury Dinners – are led by local volunteers. For further information, or to get involved, visit

“This is an adaptation of Japanese NIKU-JAGA, which literally translates as ‘meat and potatoes’. It uses mainly seasonal spring vegetables available in the Didsbury area. It’s a hearty comfort food dish, with a salty-sweet taste; a cold-weather favourite one-pot dish in Japanese households. It works well as a veggie dish by replacing the meat with a firm tofu.”

Reproduced from Didsbury Dinners: The Low-Carbon Community Cookbook





Serves 6–8

  • 2½ cups short-grained sushi rice or tapioca rice
  • 2 onions, sliced ¼ inch (approx ½ cm) thick
  • 1 large leek, diagonally sliced ¼ inch (approx ½ cm) thick
  • 3 large carrots, diagonally sliced ¼ inch (approx ½ cm) thick
  • 2 turnips cut into eighths
  • 1 parsnip, cut into ¼ inch (approx ½ cm) rounds
  • 5 potatoes, cut into eighths
  • 1 small swede, cut into 1 inch (2½ cm) cubes
  • A couple of handfuls of seasonal mushrooms, cut in half
  • A handful of dried shiitake mushrooms, pre-soaked in warm water for 20 mins (use the water from this as stock)
  • 2 handfuls of coarsely chopped kale
  • 2 small birds eye chillis, cut with scissors as finely as possible
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes (or kelp stock, dashi)
  • 1 level tbsp golden syrup
  • 1½ cups Kikkoman’s Japanese soya sauce (reduced salt if possible)
  • ¾ cup mirin (sweet cooking sake rice wine)
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated
  • 2 slabs of firm tofu, cut in 2 inch (5 cm) blocks
  • The florettes of 1 broccoli, plus coarsely chopped stalk
  • 1 cup peas
  • 2 inches (5 cm) of ginger, grated
  • A handful of flat-leaf parsley
  • A handful of clear thin rice noodles
  • 4 tsp sesame seeds

Cook the rice according to the packet instructions.

Meanwhile, in a large deep pan, sauté the onions and leek.

Add the rest of the veg (except for peas, broccoli and parsley) and add mushroom soaking-water plus just enough water to cover everything.

Add stock cubes, syrup, soya sauce, mirin and the grated garlic. Bring to the boil, cover and reduce heat.

Simmer on low until potatoes are parboiled.

Add tofu, broccoli and peas and grated ginger and parsley. Taste-check at this point – add more water if too salty, or more soya sauce if not salty enough.

Remove lid and cook over a medium-low heat until the soup has reduced by half. When the potatoes are cooked so that they break when prodded, add rice noodles. Turn off heat after 5 minutes.

Serve in bowls, accompanied with bowls of sticky short-grain sushi rice. Sprinkle sesame seeds over each portion.

© Amanda Woodvine for Didsbury Dinners, 2o11. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced in whole or in part without the permission of the copyright owner.

Food photography: © Chava Eichner