The Summer Olympics are halfway over and Belgium has already collected a few medals. This year, the Games are being held in Japan, a country that we usually associate with delicious dishes such as sushi and miso ramen.

Our Japanese chef Norio Watanabe informs us all about the surprising Japanese cuisine...and reveals his favourite recipe!

Hello Norio! What makes Japanese cuisine so different from Western cuisine?

Until middle of 19th century, our country was closed off for communication with other countries for 200 hundreds years except for two countries such as China and the Netherlands at a very limited area in southern Japan. During this time of isolation, ordinary Japanese people did not have a chance to get in touch with Western customs. So, our food culture grew very differently from western food. Also, animal meat eating was prohibited by  Japanese Buddhist philosophy during this period.

However, we could easily get fresh seafood  because geographically our land remains surrounded by an ocean. This is the main reason why Japanese people became fish eaters. 

It is often said that Japanese cuisine is very healthy. Is this true?

Yes it is! We do not include as much of animal fat as Western people in our food, and we eat a lot of cooked vegetables. Low-fat and high dietary fibre food is everyday food in our culture.

Can you share your recipe for your favourite Japanese dish?

Here’s my recipe for Niku-jyaga, a delicious Japanese beef and potatoe stew!  


Niku Jyaga (Simmered meat and potatoe) is a delicious Japanese dish.

Ingredients (2-3 servings)

  • 3 potatoes
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 of onion
  • 200g of sliced beef or pork or chicken
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon of instant fish broth granules
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of mirin (if you cannot get mirin, add twice the amount of sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil


  • Cut the ingredients into bite-sized pieces.
  • Chop the potato and carrot into chunks
  • Cut the onion into wedges
  • Cut the beef (pork or chicken) into bite sized chunks
  • Put the vegetable oil into the pan and heat it.
  • Stir-fry the meat, onion, carrot, and potato.
  • Add water, instant broth granules and seasoning.
  • Cover with an otoshi-buta (can be aluminum foil) directly on the food and simmer them for about 15-20 minutes.
  • When almost all the liquid is gone, the food’s ready to eat.
  • Tip: When all steps are done, leave it for a while. When getting cold, they may absorb seasonings.

Arigato gozaimasu, Norio!