Japanese cream stew

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This cream stew recipe is a nostalgic Japanese favourite, packed with seasonal mushrooms for an earthy finish. The stew is flavoured with koji seasoning, a sweet yet salty fermented rice that gives the dish its authentic flavour. If short on time, you can buy pre-prepared koji seasoning instead of making your own.

First published in 2016

Cream stew, or white stew, is a typical yōshoku dish, which refers to a style of Western-influenced cooking in Japan. Simmered or stewed dishes have existed in Japan for centuries, but the concept of a milk-based stew first appeared in Japan around the latter half of the 1960s. It's a nostalgic dish for many adults and especially popular with kids. In this recipe, the addition of koji elevates the flavour to something a little more refined.

Koji is a type of Japanese seasoning used for centuries as a condiment in a wide variety of dishes. Made from rice malt and salt, it lends an authentic flavour to this stew. Koji has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years, thanks in part to the rise in popularity of fermented foods.

Resembling porridge, koji takes on a faintly sweet flavour from the rice. It has a sweet and salty taste, a delicate fermented aroma and can come in a purée, paste, set or even powdered state.

Autumn is my favourite season for food. As temperatures fall, I find myself craving hearty soups and long-simmered dishes packed with umami. It's the season for sweet kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) and luscious Japanese mushrooms. That's why I've used mushrooms instead of chicken in this recipe for a more autumnal feel.




Stew ingredients

White sauce

  • 30g of flour
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 450ml of milk
  • 30g of cheese, grated



To begin, make the koji. If preferred, you can buy premade koji seasoning to save time – you will need 50ml for this recipe
Mix the rice koji with the salt, add the water and mix through. Place in a container
Place a lid on the container, making sure you leave a small fraction of the lid open so any gases that are produced can escape. Place in a warm area like an airing cupboard
Stir once a day for 2–3 days, then leave to ferment for 1 week to 10 days. Consume as soon as possible after this time
To make the stew, heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the onions until softened
Add the potatoes and the dashi, bring to the boil for a minute and then reduce to a simmer
Add the carrots to the saucepan and simmer for another 20 minutes
In a separate medium pan, prepare the roux. Melt the butter over a low heat. Add the flour, stir well with the butter and cook out for 2 minutes. Pour in a splash of the cold milk
Whisk until smooth, still over a low heat. Gradually whisk in the remaining milk, ensuring all of the milk is gradually absorbed to create a creamy white sauce. After 5 minutes, increase the heat until the mixture thickens and bubbles. Add 50ml of the koji seasoning
Add the roux to the stew, stir in the broccoli and mushrooms and bring to a gentle boil for a further 2–3 minutes. Check the seasoning for salt and pepper then serve immediately
First published in 2016

Brazilian food and travel blogger, living in London.

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