Oden is a Japanese hot-pot dish in which an assortment of fish-cakes and dumplings are cooked in dashi, kombu stock, or chicken stock, with other ingredients including daikon, konyaku, and potatoes. Cooking these many ingredients for several hours blends the flavors similar to the way Western stews and soups are cooked.
Today my daughter and I went to a local Japanese/Asian store to find ingredients to make our oden. There were packages of pre-selected ingredients assembled for making oden (including a powder to make the broth). But using the recipe below as a quide, we choose some interesting-looking things: konnyaku, fried fish balls, sardine dumplings (iwashi tsumire), chikuwa, and narutomaki. Mr. Tess kindly went to another store to find hanpen which is described so charmingly in the book—it cooked to a mushy but tasty consistency.
I was curious about the sardine dumplings because there is a recipe in The Japanese Kitchen which I’m planning to try in future. They turned out to be my favorite in this stew! The fried fish balls contained a lot of artificial ingredients and tasted to me like hot-dogs, but my dining companions liked them. In the end, I’m saving the chikuwa and nrutomaki for another meal.
I suspect this hot-pot would be great to eat a second day, but we all liked it so much that there were not leftovers!
Hot Stew with Assorted Fish Cakes
serves 4 to 6
- 1 pound daikon,
peeled, halved lenthwise, then cut cross-wise into 1-inch thick half moons
- 3/4 pound small ptoatoes
(mine were large, so I cut them into quarters)
- 1 konnyaku (taro or yam gelatin) cake
- 8 to 10 satsuma-age
(fried fish cakes) the size of ping-pong balls
- 2 hanpen (simmered fish cakes),
quartered into triangular shapes
- 1 kamaaboku (steamed fish cake),
cut into 1/3-inch slices
- 7 cups kombu dashi
- 1/4 cup usukochi shoyu (light colored soy sauce)
- 1/4 cup shoyu (soy sauce)
- 1/4 cup mirin
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 4 hardboiled eggs, shelled
- Hot Japanese mustard paste
- hot plain rice
•• Put the daikon into a medium pot, and add water to cover the daikon by 2 inches. Place the pot over moderate heat, bring the water to a boil, and cook for 15 minutes. Drain the daikon and set it aside.
•• Put the ptatoes into a medium pot, cover them with cold water, and cook them until they are done but sitll firm. Drain and cut them into halves.
•• Put the taro gelatin into a medium pot of boiling water, and boil the gellatin for 1 minite. Drain it and cut into eight triangels.
•• To remove the excess oil from the fried fish cakes, put them in a colander and rinse them with boiling water.
•• In a large stew pot, bring the kelp stok, usukuch and shoyu, mirin, and sugar to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, and add all the fish cakes and the par-boiled ingredients including the eggs.
•• Cook, partially covered for 3 hours. Add water as necesssary to keep the broth from reducing to less than half of its original quantity. Taste the broth and add a little more shoyu, mirin, or sugar to your taste.
•• Bring the hot pot to the table. If possible, keep the stew hot on a portable stove. Let the diners help themselves, choosing the ingredients they prefer and trnasferring them to individual bowls along with some broth and mustard paste.
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