Warm and filling, oden is the perfect hands off, one-pot dish to warm you up!Jump to recipe
It’s almost the middle of March and it’s been snowing…in Vancouver. We westcoasters usually enjoy a mild winter with an early-ish spring but this year (at least since I’ve been back in town), the weather has been off the hook. I’m not complaining though because I love snow! I think I love it because I can hole up at home, nice and cozy, right by the window, watching the fluffy flakes fall down. And when I’m not watching the winter wonderland outside, Mike and I turn on the oden pot and binge watch Netflix – currently it’s been all the Marvel movies.
Oden is perfect for if you’re feeling nom-ish, or not hungry at all because all the food is prepared in a big pot, just waiting for you fish it out and eat as you please. You can have as much or as little as you like. In my case, it’s usually a lot. But maybe I should back up a bit, in case you don’t know what oden is.
Oden is a Japanese one-pot wonder, full of tasty bits of meat, fish cake, daikon, and other goodies simmered in a savory dashi-soy stock until everything is infused with flavor. If you’ve been to Japan in the wintertime, you’ve probably seen an oden set up in a convenience store – oden is incredibly popular, so much so that as well as the convenience store take, there are dedicated restaurants that serve only oden.
It’s homey, warming, filling, and one of our favorite things to eat when it’s cold outside. All it takes is a quick trip to the grocery store to buy the ingredients and you’re good to go. One of the best things about oden is that everything in it is pretty much store bought: fish cakes, fish balls, tofu. But, if you’re feeling like a bit of prep work, you can also pop in mushrooms, chicken, quail eggs, potatoes. Basically the sky’s the limit!
Oden Stock/Soup Base Recipe
makes 2 quarts oden broth
- 8 cups dashi
- 1/4 cup light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sake
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- salt, to taste, if needed
Most oden ingredients can be bought at your local friendly Asian supermarket, in the frozen section. If they don’t have a large Japanese selection, you could always make do with Chinese fish cakes/balls, which always seem to be around. Sometimes though, they have actual oden packs filled with fish cakes and instant oden soup base.
Combine all of the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a gentle simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning. It should be quite seasoned, but not so salty that you can’t have a bowl of it as soup. Add the ingredients you like from the list below and simmer, for 2-3 hours. I like to skewer everything, which makes it easy to pick up out of the pot, but it’s definitely not necessary – you can just let everything float freely and scoop things out. Regardless if you skewer or not, remember, the longer your oden simmers, the more delicious. Just make sure that everything’s nice and submerged.
Daikon – peel and cut into 1-2 inch rounds. I like to cook this before popping it into the oden stock by placing it in a small pot covered with dashi. Bring it up to a simmer on medium heat and cook, until tender (you should be able to easily slide a butter knife into the center).
Chicken Wings – not a typical ingredient, but it adds a lot of flavor to the stock and who doesn’t love wings? Skewer them, for maximum enjoyment.
Chicken Thighs – again, not typical, but delicious! Cut thighs into bite-sized pieces and skewer.
Firm Tofu – cut into cubes. Make sure your tofu is fairly firm or it’ll be difficult to fish it out.
Atsuage – basically deep-fried tofu, this is one of my favorite things in oden. The outsides are deep-fried to a golden brown, while the insides are the same pale white tofu that you know and love. Cut into cubes or in half into triangles.
Chikuwa – fish cake in a tube shape. Cut them into bite size pieces and skewer them, or place them in as is.
Satsuma-age – fried fish cake and probably one of my favorite things in oden!
King Oyster Mushrooms – add an extra bit of umami to your oden. Slice and pop in or quarter and skewer.
Lotus Root – lotus root is crunchy, mildly sweet, and absolutely delicious! Wash, peel, and cut into 1/4 -1/2 inch rounds, being careful to check inside the holes for any residual dirt. I quartered and skewered mine.
Greens – definitely not traditional and not meant to be simmered in the stock, but I like greens when eating so we just give whatever we have on hand a quick dip in the oden stock then eat it immediately.
Other possibilities: konnyaku, a jelly-like block made from a yam-type plant; boiled eggs, konbu; potatoes; kinchaku, a deep-fried tofu pouch filled with mochi; wieners/hot dogs; konbu; beef tendon; kabocha; hanpen, a fluffy fish paste pillow-type cake.