Oden, a one-pot Japanese fish cake dish, is a cross between a soup and a stew. The ingredients vary from region to region, and there are Korean and Taiwanese versions of the dish too as both countries were once colonized by Japan.
Comfort food for people in many parts of Asia, oden is easy to make at home because most of the ingredients are bought pre-cooked.
Fish cakes and balls, and all their iterations, are available in the frozen section of most Asian groceries. Do not look for “oden” in the labels though because these ingredients are more often called “hotpot” ingredients. In some cases, you can buy a pack with assorted cakes and balls. In other cases, you may have to buy each ingredient separately.
If using dried shiitake, soak them in hot water for an hour before you start cooking.
The fried tofu in the ingredients list is just fried firm tofu cut into bite-size pieces. We used Korean fish cakes (odeng) which we cut into strips and wound with short bamboo skewers. You may skip the skewering part totally. We just did it for optics.
Oden is traditionally cooked in an earthenware pot. Ours is rather small and had we cooked the oden in it, the result would have been oden for two instead of oden for four. We’re four in the family so we had to cook the oden in a regular but larger pot.
- In a thick-bottomed pan, heat the dashi with the soy sauce, mirin and sake.
- When the dashi starts to boil, lower the heat and simmer uncovered for five minutes.
- Drop in the scallions, radish, shiitake and seafood balls. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
- Add the fish cakes and fried tofu. Simmer uncovered for another five minutes.
- Taste the broth. Add salt, if needed, and simmer for another five minutes.
- Serve the oden in bowls.