We love beef stew, but sometimes want to mix up the flavors, because, let’s face it, stew can get boring. Enter this Japanese Beef Stew recipe: it’s hearty, filling, and has flavors that you wouldn’t normally find in a “traditional” beef stew.
This recipe is inspired by Mark Bittman’s Japanese Beef Stew recipe from NYT Cooking. We found it while browsing for fresh takes on beef stew, and boy did it hit the spot. We made a few modifications to work with what’s generally available in Wisconsin grocery stores, but we owe Mark a hat-tip for the basis of the recipe.
We made this recipe at home and here’s why we loved it:
- The beef had a nice “bite” on the outside but was tender and flavorful.
- The sweet potatoes were perfectly cooked and paired well with the broth.
- The savory / sweet broth brought out the best in the beef and was a fun change to plain old beef broth.
This Japanese Beef Stew recipe was seriously a winner – keep reading to get answers to some questions you may have about the recipe, or scroll down to get cooking!
What type of beef should I use for this Japanese Beef Stew?
We used our pre-cut stew meat that we cut from beef round. It’s the perfect cut to use and saves you having to cut up meat at home. At the end of cooking the meat was flavorful (both from the beef and the cooking liquid) while also fork tender. We were fans!
If you don’t have pre-cut stew meat, you could cut boneless beef chuck or round into cubes yourself. Just note that if you use chuck, the cubes will start to shred while they cook. We like that round stays as one piece as it cooks.
If you want to get crazy, you could try this recipe with cubed beef brisket or pork shoulder – both would bring unique flavor and texture to the dish!
Can I substitute or add vegetables to this stew?
We like the simplicity of only having the sweet potatoes in this recipe, but if you don’t like sweet potatoes, an easy substitution would be butternut or any other type of winter squash.
If you want to add more vegetables, you could try adding sliced onions at the start of the cooking time (searing them with the beef), sliced daikon (Japanese radish) during the stewing, or you could add sliced shittake mushrooms with about 10-15 minutes of cooking left.
Tell me more about the cooking liquid you used for this recipe!
This cooking liquid is what sets this Japanese Beef Stew apart as a Japanese Beef Stew and not just a plain old beef stew. The combination of chicken stock, soy sauce, mirin, Worcestershire, ginger, and lemon juice was savory, sweet, and flavorful without being overpowering. Here’s a breakdown of each ingredient:
- Chicken broth – everyone has chicken broth and it’s a good base for this recipe. What would be even better would be dashi stock. You can buy it at many Asian stores, or get it from Amazon here. We know many people don’t have it in the pantry, so we’re using chicken broth instead.
- Soy sauce – we recommend using just a general purpose soy sauce. You can use a dark soy sauce if you want very concentrated flavor, but we like general purpose for this recipe!
- Mirin – this sweet rice wine brings complexity and balance to the recipe. You can find mirin in most large grocery stores, buy it from Amazon, or if necessary, use honey instead.
- Worcestershire sauce – I added a small dab of Worcestershire to replicate the seafood characteristics of dashi, plus add a bit of color to the dish. If you’re using dashi, don’t use this. You could also add a smidge of anchovy paste to bring the seafood savory notes to this dish instead!
- Ginger – small slices of fresh ginger bring aromatic freshness to the soy sauce and mirin. You can omit the ginger if you don’t like ginger without losing too much from the recipe.
- Lemon juice – a dash of lemon juice at the end of the recipe is the final splash of acidity to make the flavors sing! You can juice a lemon, or like me, use bottled lemon juice.
What do I use to season this stew?
Just a dash of black pepper while the meat is cooking is really all you should need! The soy sauce bring so much savory flavor, as well as salt, that you should not need to season with more salt. If you really like salt, you can always season after cooking, but we don’t recommend using more salt to start off with.
What type of dish should I cook this stew in?
We cooked this stew in our Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. It makes for an easy clean up since we didn’t use any cooking oil when we seared the beef. You can use a cast iron skillet, or any dish that you can cover that is large enough to fit all of the vegetables and meat. A soup pot will work just fine, but we really like our Dutch oven!
How do I serve my Japanese Beef Stew?
Here’s how I made my bowl of Japanese Beef Stew:
- Add a ladle of broth into a bowl.
- Using a slotted spoon, take two spoonfuls of the beef and vegetables from the broth in the Dutch oven and place into one side of your bowl.
- Add a packed serving of cooked rice to the other side of the bowl (measuring spoons work great for this).
- Garnish your meat and sweet potato with freshly sliced green onions – they’re a great addition, but optional if you don’t like them.
It was a really tasty bite and I am glad we made the recipe!
We hope you like this Japanese Beef Stew recipe. If you made any tweaks, or have comments, leave us a rating or comments below. We appreciate your feedback. If you’re looking for other beef stew recipes, just click here to see all of our stew recipes. We have a variety from traditional to unusual!
- 1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil (or sesame oil if preferred)
- 2 lb Beef Stew Meat
- 2 cup Chicken Broth
- 1/4 cup Soy Sauce
- 1/4 cup Mirin
- 2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 6 slice Ginger (thin slices)
- 2 tsp Black Pepper
- 1.5 lb Sweet Potato (peeled and cut into 1″ chunks)
- 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- Rice (for serving)
- Green Onion (thinly sliced, for serving)
Add vegetable oil to an enameled Dutch oven or similar cookware. Heat to medium high heat. Once hot, add beef stew meat and sear on all sides. Once seared, remove the meat, and set aside.
Add chicken stock, soy sauce, mirin, Worcestershire sauce, and ginger to the Dutch oven. Stir the browned bits of meat up into liquid and bring mixture to a boil. Add the seared beef back in to the pot and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 45 minutes.
Add the sweet potatoes to the Dutch oven and stir. Cook until the sweet potatoes are tender, but not mushy, about another 20 minutes. Once sweet potatoes are cooked, add lemon juice to the broth and stir.
Serve broth in a bowl with rice, beef, and sweet potatoes garnished with slices of green onion. Enjoy your Japanese Beef Stew and stay warm!