Oden (Japanese Fishcake Stew)

Oden is a stew that features fish cakes and a variety of other ingredients.  This is true Japanese comfort food that will warm your bones on a cold night.  Enjoy it with hot, sweet Chinese mustard.

Oden is a type of stew that is made with fish cakes, hard boiled egg, veggies and other ingredients that can slowly cook for hours before serving.  The ingredients are usually large pieces that are stewed in a kelp based broth, and the longer they sit the more flavorful the broth becomes.  The stewing process also infuses the broth into all of the fishcakes which gives them a complex umami taste.  Convenience stores in Japan often sell Oden in the winter and customers can use tongs to serve themselves their favorite ingredients.

Oden(おでん)

This recipe for Oden is delicious, and the time I used for cooking are minimal.  It’s not unusual to have a pot of Oden simmering over a low flame all day long.  Fishcakes of all types can be found in the refrigerated section in most Asian markets.  They can be found in all colors, shapes and sizes. Some are very plain, and others have exotic ingredients mixed in them or stuffed inside.  Other types of ingredients you might find in Oden include mochi (rice cakes) – usually wrapped in an edible tofu bag, chikuwa, which is a hollow cylindrical fried fishcake, daikon radish, carrots, potatoes, eggs, tofu, and tsukune (chicken meatballs).

Most asian groceries that carry fishcake also carry Oden assortment packs with all the ingredients included.

PREP COOKING YIELD
15 mins 100 minutes Serves 8
PREP 15 mins
COOKING 100 minutes
YIELD Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 package oden soup mix
  • 1 piece of dried konbu (about 3” x 2”)
  • 1/2 daikon
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 block of konnyaku, rinsed well and quartered (200g)
  • 4 eggs, hard boiled and peeled
  • 12 assorted fish cakes
  • 1 block of fried tofu (150g)
  • 1 block of hanpen (white fishcake) (85g)
  • 3 sticks beef tendon (gyu suji) (3x65g)
  • 6 cups cold water

 

Instructions:

  • Peel daikon and cut into 3/4 inch (2 cm) slices.

  • Peel carrot and cut into 3/4 inch (2 cm) slices.

  • In a large stockpot, bring the water, konbu and dashi flakes to a boil over high heat
  • Add the daikon, turn to low, cover, and cook for 60 minutes.
  • Add the carrot and beef tendon.  Cover again and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.

  • Add the remaining ingredients.  Bring back to a boil over medium high heat.
  • Cover, turn the heat to low and cook for 15 more minutes.  The fish cakes will expand.

  • Serve immediately or simmer all day.  Place ingredients in a bowl, pour in some broth and serve with some with hot mustard or Yuzu-pepper on the side. The fishcake can be dipped in the mustard, or it can be mixed into the broth.

Notes:

  • The broth in Oden can be used over and over.  In fact, there is one restaurant in Tokyo that has been using the same broth for decades. You can refrigerate and reuse it, replenishing it with water as you go.  But for simple folks like me, the packaged mix you can buy in the stores works perfectly fine.
  • If you buy a packaged assortment it often includes the broth.  But even if you do buy it that way, a little dried konbu will really enhance the flavor.
  • Konnyaku has a very strong and unpleasant smell when removed from the package.  Rinse well under cold water to get rid of the odor.

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