What is Oden?



Ever heard of oden before? From a distance, it doesn't look like much. The dish appears to be a collection of jiggling beige-hued shapes-- some rounded, some cubical, some resembling chicken nuggets-- simmering quietly in a large and somewhat shallow pot. A few components are discernable as hard boiled eggs, chunks of simmered radish, and small bundles of glassy shirataki noodles. The entire thing smells warm, salty and slightly fishy, but in that sort of comforting way that cup ramen does when you first pour hot water over it. You ladle a few promising-looking shapes, an egg and a chunk of radish into a small bowl and take a bite. The shapes, it turns out, are fish cakes, and when you're done you feel not just full, but warmed up from the inside out. This, is oden.


In a more technical sense, oden is a type of one-pot stew-type dish that is a very popular winter-time food in Japan. Like, considered to be a quintessential-food-of-the-season level popular. Oden usually consists of a few different types of fish cake, fried tofu, konnyaku (yam cake), daikon radish pieces, hard-boiled eggs and tofu-wrapped mochi all simmered for hours in a gentle fish and seaweed based broth called dashi. Ingredients can vary by region and occasionally things like beef tendon, octopus, and giant green onion pieces are included. During the winter in Japan, food carts, stands, and convenience stores all dedicate themselves to selling the stuff by the cup. The cups are often customizable, with the attendants happy to fill them with only your favorite ingredients.


On top of having a wonderful taste, oden is also fairly simple to prepare. While all the ingredients, from the broth to fish cakes, can be made from scratch, it is very common to find pre-made “oden sets” in Japanese or general Asian grocery stores. A typical oden set includes the full variety of fish cakes, fish balls, tofu cakes and mochi bags and takes the guess-work out of deciding which ingredients to include. Oden broth can also be purchased pre-made, either as a general concentrated dashi stock, or as specific boxed oden powder. Use the following recipe to make quick and easy oden right at home!


How To Make Oden

Prep time: 1 hr

Cook time: 3 hrs

Total: 4 hrs


Ingredients

1 packet of S&B oden seasoning and soup mix

5 cups water

1 frozen Kibun no Kisetsu oden set (contains chikuwa, hanpen, tsumire, fish balls, tofu and mochi-kinchaku pouches) defrosted

½ daikon radish