Oden: Japanese Hot-Pot おでん

Oden is a Japanese hot-pot dish in which an assortment of fish-cakes and dumplings are cooked in dashi, kombu stock, and/or chicken stock, with other ingredients including daikon, konyaku, hard-boiled eggs, and potatoes. Cooking these many ingredients for several hours blends the flavors similar to the way Western stews and soups are cooked. Like any stew, it is especially good to eat in winter.

In Japan oden is available in oden-ya, restaurants which specialize in serving the stew with small seasonal side-dishes and alcoholic drinks, including sake and beer. One can find hot buffet tables filled with nerimono of all sorts: choose your favorites and enjoy a relaxing evening after work.

Oden is easy to prepare at home. The difficult part is limiting yourself to only a few of the many kinds of fish-cakes that are available. Unless you are cooking for a large group, the most convenient way to make oden at home is to buy a refrigerated or frozen package with a nice variety.
For information about some of the delicacies you might choose for your oden hot-pot, take a look at this post where I wrote about hanpen, aatsuma-age, iwashi tsumire, chikua, shrimp balls, kagosei ika maki, sankaku ganmo ichimasa, tako bei, konnyaku, shirataki, and kamaboko.

Oden is not so much a recipe as it is an opportunity to enjoy many of your favorites in one meal!
Oden is also not several other things:

Currently in the news (thus high in Google searches):
Gregory Wayne Oden, Jr. an American basketball player, member of the Portland Trail Blazers
Nearly Homophones:
Odin: King of the Norse Gods
Odeon: from the ancient Greek ᾨδείον (literally “building for musical competitions”)
The Odéon Theatre (Théâtre de l’Odéon) in Paris Think of Nicklodeon!
Counter-intuitive pronunciation (and not listening too carefully):
Argumentum ad odium: an appeal to spite or a fallacy in which someone attempts to win favor
for an argument by exploiting existing negative feelings in the opposing party.
Odem (אֹדֶם‎‎ or אודם) is an Israeli settlement.
Odiham is a historic village in the Hart district of Hampshire, England.

Think of: Scone, Perthshire – /ˈskuːn/ (rhymes with “spoon”)
(unlike the biscuit which is pronounced to rhyme with ‘con’ or ‘cone’);
Prinknash, Gloucestershire — /ˈprɪnɨʃ/ (prĭn′·nɪsh), /ˈɡlɒstər/;
Detective Superintendent Andrew Dalziel fictional Yorkshire detective in novels by Reginald Hill — ăn·drū dē·ăl

Hot Stew with Assorted Fish Cakes

from: The Japanese Kitchen
•250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit•
by Hiroko Shimbo
page 127
serves 4 to 6

  • 1 pound daikon,
    peeled, halved lentghwise, then cut cross-wise into 1-inch thick half moons
  • 3/4 pound small potatoes
  • 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 kamaboku (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

To Serve:

  • 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 potatoes into a medium pot, cover them with cold water, and cook them until they are done but still firm. Drain and cut them into halves.
•• Put the taro gelatin into a medium pot of boiling water, and boil the gelatin for 1 minute. Drain it and cut into eight triangles.
•• To remove the excess oil from the fried fish cakes, put them in a colander and rinse them with boiling water.
•• Slice the kamaboku. Slice the hanpen.
•• In a large stew pot, bring the kelp stock, usukuchi 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 necessary 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 transferring them to individual bowls along with some broth and mustard paste.

package assortment, plus kamaboko and hanpen



hanpen, sliced

hanpen can also be used in salads

snack, while oden simmers

fish cakes are puffy while they cook!

2 thoughts on “Oden: Japanese Hot-Pot おでん

    • Hi Fae,
      As much as I love oden, and much as I look forward to eating it in season again, I am so very much enjoying these last few summer nights. Tonight is almost too perfect. The windows and door open, twilight settling in, the chirping of insects…

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