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Nikujaga question

Jericho Desu

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Hey guys, tonight I want to make Nikujaga, but I've got a problem, I couldn't get sake. So my question is can Nikujaga still taste good without it, is there a substitute of some sort or should I really get the sake?
 

Ashikaga

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You can just skip the sake all together. In my uncle's family, they do not use sake nor mirin as he cannot take alcohol.

Why don't you experiment a little and substitute some red wine (port, perhaps?) for sake?
 

Jericho Desu

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Ok well I just had it and...meh, it was alright, but kind of bland, I think I might not have added enough of certain ingredients or something. I'm going to try again tomorrow anyway...
 

Glenski

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You can just skip the sake all together. In my uncle's family, they do not use sake nor mirin as he cannot take alcohol.
The alcohol boils out like most dishes that use alcohol for cooking.

Most Asian markets will carry sake. Isn't there one in your area? Cooking sake is in a 1-cup glass jar, so don't worry about buying a liter- or half-liter bottle of the stuff from a shop that sells liquor.
http://images.search.yahoo.com/imag...&sigi=11g1le6jb&sigb=13472e2nl&sigh=11ab6s8f2
 

Ashikaga

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The alcohol boils out like most dishes that use alcohol for cooking.

True. It's just that he is extremely sensitive when it comes to alcohol and even a tiny hint of Mirin used in the broth for Udon makes his face all red. Maybe it is psycological, too.

A trick you can use when you're not using sake or mirin in your cooking is to use stock base (Beef, Chicken, Fish) that often comes in cubes or granules.
Most pantries have those, no?

Sake is used to add a bit of depth to the flavour as well as to help the ingredients absorb the seasonings better (Mirin adds a subtle sweetness. It also works as a glaze as well as it prevents the ingredients from falling apart while cooking), so if you think something is missing from your Nikujaga, it is Depth in flavour.

Here is another trick. It is the last resort but it has saved many miso soups and other dishes in my household over the years whenever we were out of Dashi (or bonito/kelp based soup base). Three letters. MSG. Just add MSG to anything and it will taste better.
 

Jericho Desu

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Most Asian markets will carry sake. Isn't there one in your area? Cooking sake is in a 1-cup glass jar, so don't worry about buying a liter- or half-liter bottle of the stuff from a shop that sells liquor.

That's the problem I had, I don't live in central London (but Uni/friends etc are) and thats the only place I know of with asian shops. I had just came back from central and didn't want to go all the way back just for sake 😌

Another problem: I searched almost every liquor shop in my area and none of them had sake at all...
 

Jericho Desu

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There is a brand of mirin that has no alcohol in it.
http://www.nymtc.com/pl_general/mirin.html

Jericho,
Perhaps your friends can get you a supply of sake...?

Haha, no no getting sake is not a problem because I live 40-50 mins away from central and go there like nearly every day, its just that particular day I had just come back, realised I forgot the sake and ended up looking in all the shops I could find during the long walk to my house (which I usually take a bus to get to from the station), because I really couldn't be bothered to go all the way back.

😌
 

epigene

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When I lived in the US, I substituted sake with dry sherry and added a bit of sugar to the sherry when the recipe calls for mirin.

It's not exactly the same thing, but it's a pretty good substitute. :)
 

epigene

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you know what's strange, I used the recipe from here "cooking with dog"(lol) but he doesn't mention mirin at all, yet I'm guessing that would help the flavour quite a bit.

There are many variations to the nikujaga recipe, as many as there are cooks in Japan.

Mirin is frequently used, but many nikujaga recipes using sake (or dry sherry) and sugar instead produce great results. There may be other differences in procedure that also counts. BTW, mirin is also based on sake and therefore contains alcohol, though in very small quantity.

If alcohol is to be avoided at all cost, skip sake and miriin altogether and use sugar and a lot of beef broth, maybe add some bouillon. Personally, I don't like MSG and do not use it at all in any dish.

JFYI, my recipe for nikujaga has a difference not in the "standard" recipe, which is to remove the cooked beef slices from the pot after addition of seasonings and simmering starts, to prevent beef from overcooking and losing flavor. The beef is brought back into the pot after the potatoes and other vegetables are done, followed by addition of soy sauce and sugar to taste and addition of garnish before serving.
 
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