Do other foodbloggers write about their failures? Or do they keep tweaking it until they can present a perfect dish with breezy 'just thought I'd give it a try' nonchalance? After not cooking anything but toast last week while I showed my friends around Tokyo, I felt as if I should get back into the Japanese recipes, if only so I could have something to write about while I wait for classes to start.
Since the boy was staying over this weekend, and he is mad for anything involving potatoes, I thought I'd try my hand at Niku Jaga (literally meat and potatoes, in practise a sort of beef and potato stew). I've heard a lot of Japanese people talking about this dish having 'ofukuro no aji' (the taste of your mother's cooking) but I've never been lucky enough to try a home cooked version. The NJ I have tried, at izakayas and other homey restaurants, has been delicious. Meaty and savory in plenty of thin sauce, with a bowl of white rice on the side.
I wish I could say the same for the 'stew' I made on Saturday. Don't get me wrong, the taste was fine and we made a good meal of it with some left over rice from hanami and sauteed spinach. Yet it was more of a soup, and the flavour was much blander than I expected. I mostly used this recipe, but added the ginger and sesame oil that Maki prescribes here. Initial investigations have led me to three possibly suspects:
- I added too much stock. The recipe said to just cover the potatoes, but perhaps my pot is wider than theirs. I could have boiled it down further, but the potatoes would have disintegrated.
- I should have used more seasonings, similar to Maki's recipe, even though I had half the amount of ingredients.
- Niku Jaga is just meant to taste/look this way and the versions I've tried were 'jazzed up' restaurant food.
Anyone have any ideas?
(Also, check out this incredibly cute cartoon pun - the nikujaguar)