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“Perfect recipe…I changed from beef to tuna and it works well too! Highly recommended.”– Martin
What is Japanese-style Beef Stew?
When you hear the term beef stew in Japanese cuisine, it may bring to mind the notion of Nikujaga (meat and potato stew) or Hayashi Rice. Certainly, both can also be called beef stew when translated into English, but the dish we Japanese call Beef Stew (ビーフシチュー) is completely different.
It is said that beef stew was initially introduced from England in the early Meiji Era (1868-1912), shortly after Japan opened up its borders to the outside world. Over time, it became a staple of Yoshoku (Western-inspired Japanese) cuisine and took on its current form.
It is often made with demi-glace sauce and served with baguette instead of rice. Furthermore, there is another Yoshoku dish known as Cream Stew, which is distinguishable by its very different color and use of chicken instead of beef.
How I Developed This Recipe
In my journey to create a unique Japanese-style Beef Stew, I was inspired to blend the classic beef stew with a twist of Japanese flavors. My kitchen experiments led me to a discovery: adding miso paste! This simple ingredient transformed the stew, infusing it with a distinct Japanese essence that’s both rich and intriguing.
I didn’t stop there. Remembering the secret ingredients from my Japanese Curry Rice recipe, I decided to stir in some dark chocolate, grated apple, and a hint of honey. These additions brought a good depth to the stew.
This recipe might seem a bit daunting due to its sizable list of ingredients and long cooking time, but the steps are very straightfoward and a majority of the cooking time is leaving it to rest and simmer. You can sit back, relax and enjoy the aromas of Japanese-style beef stew filling your kitchen.
I think Japanese beef stew is a dish that tells a story of culinary exploration, where East meets West in a harmonious blend. Give it a try!
Ingredients & Substitution Ideas
- Beef: I used a combination of round and sinew. Round adds a meaty texture, and sinew deepens the stew’s flavor. But feel free to use any beef cut you usually choose for stews!
- Unsalted Butter: I always opt for unsalted butter to have better control of the salt content. If you prefer salted butter, just cut back on other salty ingredients to balance the taste.
- Vegetables: A combination of yellow onion, canned tomato, carrot, and button mushrooms adds a lovely variety of flavors and textures to the dish.
- Potherbs & Aromatics: Simple yet effective – garlic, bay leaf, and rosemary.
- Red Wine: The tannins in red wine improve the meat’s flavor and eliminate odors, I recommend an inexpensive Pinot noir, Merlot or Cabernet sauvignon. Since red wine is a significant ingredient in this recipe, it can’t be substituted. If you want to avoid adding alcohol to your cooking, opt for a non-alcoholic red wine instead.
- Condiments & Seasonings: A blend of honey, tomato ketchup, grated apple, Worcestershire sauce, miso paste, dark chocolate, salt, and pepper to create a complex yet harmonious flavor profile.
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Visual Walkthrough & Tips
Here are my step-by-step instructions for how to make Japanese-style Beef Stew at home. For ingredient quantities and simplified instructions, scroll down for the Printable Recipe Card below.
The secret to delicious caramelized onions is patience.
Start by thinly slicing the onion. Then, in a pan with a bit of oil, cook them over low heat for about 30 minutes.
They’ll slowly turn wonderfully sweet and golden. If they start to stick, a splash of water does the trick.
This is a time-consuming process, so move on to other preparations while the onions are frying, making sure to mix them occasionally and add water if necessary.
For the beef, I just chop it into bite-sized cubes. This is flexible, so go with what feels suitable for you.
Then, season the beef with salt and pepper and give it a light dusting of flour. It’s a small step but it makes a big difference in the stew’s texture.
Next up, melt some unsalted butter in a pan over medium heat.
Add the beef and brown it. The beef doesn’t need to be fully cooked; just aim for a nice sear on each side.
Using a deep pan here helps later on, as you can use the same pan to make the entire stew.
Once the beef is browned, add red wine, water, canned tomatoes, bay leaves, rosemary, and your caramelized onions.
Bring this to a boil, then lower the heat to low and let it simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
After simmering, turn off the heat and let the stew rest for an hour.
This waiting period is key – it allows the flavors to meld beautifully.
For the final flourish, remove the rosemary and reheat the stew, bringing it to a boil.
Then, lower the heat and add grated garlic, carrots, mushrooms, honey, ketchup, grated apple, Worcestershire sauce, miso paste, and dark chocolate.
Let this simmer with the lid slightly ajar for another hour, stirring occasionally.
This blend of ingredients might sound unusual, but trust me, it creates a rich, complex flavor that’s absolutely worth it.
After 1 hour, give the stew a final taste test and season to preference using salt and pepper.
Serve with warm baguette and enjoy!
How to Store
If you intend to consume beef stew within two days, you can keep it in the refrigerator. If you plan to store it for three days or more, freezing is the best option.
Never store beef stew at room temperature.
To refrigerate beef stew, remove it from heat, place it in an airtight container, and store it in the refrigerator.
Beef stew can be stored in the freezer using the same method but with a caveat. Carrots lose their texture significantly when frozen, so consuming them before freezing is better.
Beef stew is a common dish and many countries have their own approach to the recipe. Japanese yoshoku dishes often rely on the flavors of tomatoes, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, amongst other condiments, to create a “Western-style” taste unique to Japan. I also include miso paste in my recipe for a touch of Japanese flavor.
Nikujaga is also a type of meat stew (made with either pork or beef), however, nikujaga relies on local ingredients typically used in Japanese cuisine (dashi, soy sauce, mirin etc) giving it a very “Japanese” flavor. On the other hand, this Japanese beef stew relies on common imported ingredients from Europe to create a “Western” flavor using tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, red wine and herbs instead.
I hope you enjoy this Japanese-style Beef Stew recipe! If you try it out, I’d really appreciate it if you could spare a moment to let me know what you thought by giving a review and star rating in the comments below. It’s also helpful to share any adjustments you made to the recipe with our other readers. Thank you!
More Yoshoku Recipes
Japanese Style Beef Stew
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 200 g yellow onion thinly sliced
- 400 g stewing beef (round)
- 100 g beef sinew
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic finely diced
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 300 g canned tomato (diced)
- 300 ml red wine
- 300 ml water
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 150 g carrot peeled and roughly cut
- 100 g button mushrooms thinly sliced
- ½ tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp grated apple
- 1 tbsp yellow miso paste
- 10 g dark chocolate
- warm baguette
- Heat a frying pan on medium and add 1 tbsp cooking oil. Once hot, add 200 g yellow onion (thinly sliced) and fry for about 10 minutes or until soft and golden. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
- Reduce heat to low and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Cook on low for 20-30 minutes or until dark brown and caramelized. Stir occasionally and add water 1 tbsp at a time to prevent sticking. Once caramelized, remove from the heat.
- While you're waiting for the caramelized onions, take 400 g stewing beef and 100 g beef sinew cut into bitesize pieces and place them in a bowl with 1 tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper.
- Add 2 tbsp all-purpose flour and mix until evenly coated.
- Heat a deep pan or pot on medium and add 1 tbsp unsalted butter. Once melted, and the beef and seal on all sides.
- Once sealed, add the caramelized onions along with 2 cloves garlic, 2 dried bay leaves, 300 g canned tomato, 300 ml red wine, 300 ml water and mix. Place 2 sprigs fresh rosemary on top.
- Place a lid on top and bring to boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn off the heat and rest for 1 hour to allow the flavor to develop.
- Once the resting time is up, remove the rosemary, then add 150 g carrot and 100 g button mushrooms. Turn the heat back on and bring to boil. When it starts to bubble, add ½ tbsp honey, 2 tbsp tomato ketchup, 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tbsp grated apple, 1 tbsp yellow miso paste and 10 g dark chocolate.
- Simmer for 1 hour with the lid slightly ajar. Check the taste at the end and season with salt and pepper to taste if necessary.
- Serve with a few slices of warm baguette and enjoy!