Oden, a Japanese dish known for its rich flavor, consists of hard-boiled eggs, daikon, fish cakes, and dashi soup stock. While Japanese cuisine often draws global attention through popular dishes like ramen and sushi, the culinary scene extends far beyond these staples. Oden, a hearty fish cake dish, exemplifies the diverse and delicious offerings of Japanese cuisine.
The combination of ingredients including fishcake, egg, daikon and the requisite housemaid creates an unforgettable taste that will satisfy even the hungry. Often overlooked, oden stands as a favorite fall and winter dish, offering both reliability and ease of preparation.
For those unfamiliar with Japanese oden, recipe developer Rika Hoffman shares a quick and easy way to make this delicious dish. Hoffman emphasizes the importance of choosing the right seaweed for good texture and flavor, using a special kombu called Nisham Kombu, which can be cooked and eaten. The result is a comforting and delicious odon that can be prepared in an hour and a half.
Traditional ingredients for oden include tasei, a hard-boiled egg, daikon, kombu (seaweed), and a variety of Japanese fish balls and fish cakes. Purists may opt for homemade dashi, but most home cooks prefer the convenience of instant oden soup mix, which guarantees authentic flavor. Fish cakes such as sukwa are readily available in Japanese or Asian stores, offering a variety of options for this delicious dish.
Homemade Japanese oden, with its delicious and satisfying heat, is one of the best cold weather meals. Similar to traditional Japanese restaurant offerings, this dish is perfect for bringing the family closer to the table and sharing a hearty soup for a casual dinner experience.
To recreate this authentic Japanese dish, if you don’t have access to a local Asian food specialty store, you’ll need to get some key ingredients online. Neshim kombu strips, konjac or koniako (gelatinous yam cake), and Japanese mustard are important ingredients that contribute to the unique and delicious nature of homemade oden.
Oden Ingredient Ideas
- Ganmodoki (boiled)
- Konjac / Konnyaku blocks (sliced into a large triangle shape)
- Shirataki noodles
- Wiener sausages – sub with Frankfurts
- Bok Choy
- Mushroom, enoki, shimeji or shiitake work best
- Tsukune meatballs
- Assorted fish cakes / surimi shapes (satsuma-age)
- Atsuage or aburaage
- Boneless chicken thighs
- Pork belly slices
- Tsumire meatballs
- Tofu – fried, puffs or firm work best
- Peel the daikon and cut into 2 cm (1 inch) thick slices. Peel and “round” the top and bottom edges of each slice so they don’t fall apart while cooking. Make two cross slits one-third to one-half of each daikon piece.
- Next, place each daikon piece horizontally with the rice in a medium bowl and cover with water. Alternatively, if you are preparing rice at the same time, you can use washed rice water. Cooking daikon in rice water not only removes the bitterness of the vegetable, but also cooks the oden.
After boiling, add water and rice.
- While the daikon is boiling, prepare the toppings. If your oden set includes fish cakes, fish balls and sukkah, add boiling water to reduce the oil. Alternatively, cut them horizontally. For the edamame beans, thread 5 threads through each small wooden skewer so they don’t get lost in the soup.
- If you have other favorite ingredients, peel them now. In a large pot, bring the thasi stock, soy sauce, mirin and cooking sauce to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the daikon and boiled egg and cook on low heat for 20 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
- Add remaining udon ingredients (Edam bean skewers, chukka, fish cakes etc.) and cook on low heat for 30 minutes. Serve hot now if you like, but for more flavor, go ahead.
- Turn off the heat, cover the pot and leave the oden for an hour to absorb the flavor of the soup. Once cooled, refrigerate or reheat on low heat for 15-20 minutes and taste delicious the next day. Serve with Japanese kurashi torii and shichimi togarashi.