“Tortoiseshell” Pork and Radish Stew

Bekkō Ni

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Serves

    4

Appears in

An American Taste of Japan

An American Taste of Japan

By Elizabeth Andoh

Published 1985

  • About

Athough “tortoiseshell” (bekkō in Japanese) may sound like a strange name for a hearty pork and radish stew, the Japanese associate this name not with turtle meat (that’s called suppon in Japan), but with hexagonal configurations (the pattern on the tortoise’s back is made up of six-sided shapes) and with the mottled reddish-brown color of soy-braised chunks of food (they resemble the variegated shades of a tortoise’s shell).

As this savory meat and vegetable stew simmers in its soy-seasoned broth, it takes on a variety of warm earth tones, giving this dish its unusual name. The pieces of meat are succulent, though firm, and the radish and onions are left with a bit of crunch to them. Bekkō Ni is a cold-weather favorite in many Japanese households.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pork shoulder, or loin
  • ½ pound daikon (Japanese white radish)
  • 1 large onion, about 7 ounces
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • cups dashi (basic sea stock)
  • 1 tablespoon saké (Japanese rice wine)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Method

Cut the pork into 1-inch cubes, trimming away excess fat. If you want to use the radish peel to make the sauté recipe, wash the radish well and peel it in broad strips with a knife. Cut the radish into 1-inch cubes, too. Peel the onion and slice it in half through the middle. Place the cut surface on your cutting board and slice each half into four wedges, by making an X through it with your knife.

In a Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot, heat the oil and brown the meat lightly. Add 1 cup of the stock and adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cook the meat, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the rice wine, soy sauce, and sugar and continue to cook, covered, for another 10 minutes. Remove the cover, add the radish pieces, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ½ cup of stock with the onions and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring to break up the onion wedges. There should be very little richly colored “gravy” left in the pot, but this should be served with the pork and radish.