Japanese food: A guide to making or purchasing Oden
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“Oden” is particularly popular in cold winter. It is one of Japan’s classic boiled foods. You can eat it in “Izakaya” restaurants and “Yatai” outdoor booths, or at home surrounding a pot. You can also purchase it in convenience stores. On this occasion, I would like to introduce you to “Oden”.
What is “Oden”?
This is a type of boiled food in which you prepare a large pot with plenty of “Oden jiru” (flavored soup stock), and you fill it with “Oden da-ne” ingredients. When eating it, you can also add Japanese mustard and miso as condiments. The soupstock, ingredients and condiments differ by a surprising amount according to the region and household.
You can make this by adding soy sauce, salt, “Sake”, sugar or “Mirin” to your favorite “Dashi” such as those flavored with bonito flakes, “Kombu” seaweed, dried small fish, drying flying fish or chicken stock. There are also shop-bought products that you can make simply by adding hot water.
The classic “Oden da-ne” includes the following kinds of foods.
- “Daikon” Japanese radish
- “Shirataki” konjac noodles
- “Kombu” seaweed
- “Chikuwa” tube-shaped fish paste cake
- “Satsuma-age” minced fish paste fried in oil
- “Tsukune” flavored minced meat or fish paste rolled into a ball
- “Hanpen” steamed fish paste
- “Atsu-age” large chunks of fried tofu
- “Kinchaku” abura-age cut in half with ingredients such as “mochi” rice cakes based inside and tied with “kanpyo” at the end
Depending on the region or household, Oden da-ne may include a variety of ingredients, such as “gyu-suji” (the Achilles heel of cow), sausage, rolled cabbage, potato, or octopus. You can purchase various “Oden da-ne” as individual items or in a set from supermarkets or convenience stores.
How to make it
- Prepare the “Oden da-ne”
Make “Kakushi-bocho” (x-shape cuts) on the surface of “Daikon” and konjac, and parboil. This hidden cut will help ingredients to absorb seasoning. This can be simplified by heating in the microwave oven instead of parboiling.
Daikon: Peel the skin and cut in large chunks. Add the ”Kakushi-bocho” to one side only.
Konjak: Add a grid-shaped “Kakushi-bocho” to both the front and back, and cut into triangles
Eggs: Boil and peel off the shell
“Kombu” seaweed: Return to water and tie
Chikuwa: Cut in half in slants
- Prepare the “Oden jiru”
It is simple to dissolve the liquid or powder from a shop-bought “dashi” in water. Make plenty of soup stock so that the ingredients that you have prepared are fully submerged. As it takes a long time to boil, prepare some stock that you can add later. You should add 4 large spoons of soy sauce, 3 large spoons of “mirin”, and a pinch of salt for every 10 cups of water. As you will also add the flavor of the “Oden da-ne”, it may be good to make it slightly weaker. Once you are accustomed to it, you can change the soup stock, or use “sake” or sugar to find your favorite taste.
It is convenient to buy the shop-bought “Oden jiru-no-aji”. These are often included in the “Oden da-ne” set.
- Boil the ingredients
First, put items which take long to cook thoroughly to the core such as “daikon”, konjak, “shirataki”, and eggs etc.
After boiling for 30 minutes, insert the remaining “Oden da-ne” and boil for 15 minutes. If you are including “hanpen”, add this just before eating.
After separating onto small plates, eat as is, or add your favorite condiments, such as Japanese mustard or miso.
How to purchase “Oden” in a convenience store
In most convenience stores, there is “Oden” sold next to the cash register from autumn to spring, and the whole year round in some convenience stores. This can be eaten casually, by simply choosing and ordering the “Oden” you feel like eating. In some stores, you place the “Oden” in the container yourself, whereas in other stores, the shop attendant will do this for you.
a suitably sized and shaped container from those available, and insert the “Oden”
you wish to purchase using the tongs provided. Use the ladle to pour in the “Oden
If you pass it to the shop attendant, they will close the lid for you after calculating the price.
Being served by the shop attendant
Firstly, go to the cash register and tell the shop attendant that you “want to purchase Oden”. You will be asked which container size you want so tell them your choice. If you only want 2-3 pieces of “Oden”, choose the small sized container. After that, if you tell them the “Oden da-ne” that you wish to purchase, they will put it in for you.
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