Oden is the Japanese soul food that warms both your body and heart. I was going to introduce this hot pot dish in the deep of winter. However, it’s already spring here in Tokyo. Lately, I feel like I can’t keep up with the time. Time has really been flying by.
Of course, oden is popular in winter, but it’s actually available year round, at home, izakaya (kind of a pub that you can enjoy food and alcohol), and you can also buy cooked oden at convenience stores like the picture below. It’s usually placed next to the check out counter.
When I was a child, I used to see oden carts with a large rectangular built-in pot. The cart was pulled like an ice-cream wagon by a man who moved through the different residential areas.
A man who was pulling a mobile cart put some ingredients that I selected on a skewer. That made me excited. Good old days!
Recently, I haven’t seen the oden cart but it seems many people still enjoy oden with alcohol. You can see them here.
INGREDIENTS FOR ODEN
Before we go on to the recipe for Oden, I should introduce some unique ingredients.
Actually, a variety of ingredients are used for oden, and those are different from region to region or depending on the person. Honestly, I don’t know how many ingredients are used for oden but usually, there are some root vegetables, boiled eggs, konnyaku and many kinds of processed fish or soybean products in oden.
According to a survey, the three most popular ingredients are daikon radish, boiled egg, and konnyaku. I’m satisfied with the result.
NO.1 DAIKON RADISH
I think you already know about daikon radish. If you don’t know well, Please click the link below. You’ll probably see something new!
I highly recommend using parboiled daikon radish for oden. You can see how to make it the link below.
NO.2 BOILED EGG
I know I don’t need to explain boiled eggs. It’s completely the same as the egg you know well. However, you can see how delicious the boiled egg is once it’s absorbed the soup. Please try it!
Konnyaku is a hard jelly made from the starch of a konnyaku yam. In the past, it was made by grating konnyaku yam, but nowadays most of konnayaku is made from starch. It’s a really common ingredient in Japanese cuisine. You’ll see it in my recipes often in the feature.
There are three top ingredients always in my pot. You can see the rest of the ingredients I used this time below.
Chikuwa is a processed fish paste that use to be wrapped around a thin piece of bamboo. Nowadays most chikuwa is made using a rod or metal skewer and rotated over heat. It’s very common in Japan and used for many kinds of dishes.
When we say “chikuwa”, it means these regular chikuwa.
This chikuwa can be used for simmered, fried, deep-fried dishes, and it’s also eaten by itself.
However, I used “Yaki-chikuwa” for my oden because it’s a chikuwa which is made for simmering. This chikuwa is thicker and longer than the regular one.
Chikuwabu is one of the common ingredients for oden. It looks similar to chikuwa, however, chikuwabu is a tube-shaped cake of flour paste which is made from wheat flour. The taste of chikuwabu is similar to udon but it’s more firm and chewy. I’ve never seen chikuwabu in other dishes except simmered dishes and most of the time, it can be seen in oden.
Hanpen consists of ground white fish, yamato yam, egg white, and salts. It’s very fluffy and easy to absorb the soup. So I always add hanpen just before oden is done. Hanpen is also used for many dishes. I especially like hanpen sauteed with butter.
Ball is a fried dumpling that is made from ground fish and some kinds of vegetables such as onions and carrots. It’s very popular among both children and adults. The ball can be eaten by itself and straight out of the package, but it’s usually used for oden.
I don’t think mochi kinchaku is a traditional ingredient for oden. It has become popular for the last couple of decades. At least, I didn’t see it in my childhood. I can tell why mochi kinchaku is so popular. It’s absolutely delicious and really goes well with the flavor of oden.
Kinchaku means a traditional Japanese pouch made of cloth that is opened and closed using a drawstring. It’s still often used for wrapping bento boxes, or when we wear kimono or yukata that is the summer version of kimono.
The kinchaku in my oden is made of aburaage which is thinly sliced deep-fried tofu.
In this case, mochi/ rice cake is in the kinchaku. You can stuff many kinds of food in the aburaage. However, this kinchaku is store-bought and it’s made smaller to suit other ingredients for oden. If you make this kinchaku using the regular size of aburaage, it’ll be twice as large as this one.
The string you can see in the photo of mochi kinchyaku is kanpyo which is dried gourd shaving. You can obviously see what it is in this video. “Seeing is believing”.
Kanpyo can be used to tie food and as filling in roll sushi.
Kombu is well known as an ingredient for dashi/ Japanese broth. There are several kinds of kombu in Japan.
Actually, many Japanese people don’t know that but the kombu called 結び昆布(musubi konbu/ tied konbu) in oden is different from the kombu which brings out the umami flavor in dashi. This type of konbu is soft and good for eating. However, it doesn’t have much of the umami element.
Actually, there are many kinds of oden kits in the markets. If you don’t have a big family, it should be convenient to enjoy a variety of tastes.
KARASHI/ JAPANESE MUSTARD
Karashi is a kind of Japanese mustard and used as condiments or seasoning for many dishes or food, such as tonkatsu, natto, and especially, it’s indispensable for oden. Karashi looks similar to western mustard but it’s spicier and has a very unique and pungent smell. Be careful and try not to use too much as your nose will be assailed by the pungent smell when you eat it. Otherwise, you’ll get a lot of tears! Put a small amount of karashi on the food, you can experience an amazing flavor!
When I buy oden or eat out, it’s very fun to select what I eat among the various ingredients. Unfortunately, I can’t list all of the ingredients that people use to make oden. There are too many to use at home.
Don’t worry! You can make perfect oden using these ingredients I selected. At the same time, you can add any other ingredients or change some ingredients as you like!
THE SOUP OF ODEN
Oden is the type of dish you can enjoy eating the soup with the ingredients. Please prepare plenty of soup.
Dashi/ Japanese broth is also very important. I’m going to post how to make authentic Japanese broth but in the meantime, instant oden soup or dashi could help you.
I hope you can get something in your area.
Thank you for allowing me to share my recipe with you. I hope you’ll enjoy oden with your favorite ingredients!
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