During Japan's Edo period (1603-1867), the Chinese introduced a number of pork dishes to Japan, some of which were later adapted for traditional Japanese cuisine. This sweet, ginger-flavored stew is an example of the recipes cooked during that period.
- 2 lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2'' cubes
- 1 1⁄4 lb. daikon, peeled and grated
- 1 (1'') piece fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
- 2 cups dashi
- 3 Tbsp. sake
- 3 Tbsp. hatcho miso
- 1 Tbsp. Japanese soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp. mirin (sweet Japanese cooking wine)
- 8 large pearl onions, trimmed and peeled
- 2 medium carrots, peeled, cut into 16 rounds, and blanched
- 1 bunch fresh spinach, washed, blanched, and drained
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
Place pork on a large piece of parchment paper and cover with daikon. Fold paper to enclose pork, then tie with kitchen string. Place in a bamboo steamer, then set steamer in a wok partially filled with simmering water. Steam over medium heat for 1 hour. Check water occasionally and add more if necessary. Remove pork from steamer, open package, and place meat in a colander. Gently rinse off daikon and drain.
Mix together ginger and pork in a heavy medium pot. Stir in dashi and sake and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Add hatcho-miso, soy sauce, and mirin, partially cover, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until meat is fork-tender, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 12 minutes. Drain and set aside. Divide carrots (carved into decorative wheels if you like) between plates. Roll about 5 spinach leaves into a bundle and cut ends cleanly. Repeat process until you have about 3 bundles per serving, then arrange next to carrots on plates.
Sprinkle sugar into stewed pork, stirring until it dissolves. Add onions, then cook, uncovered, until sauce becomes thick and glossy, about 10 minutes. Divide pork between plates and serve.