Monday, January 26, 2015

How to Make a Western-Style Oden-Japanese Hot Pot

Oden is a traditional Japanese hot pot that's usually eaten during the colder months. Not only do we make it at home, it's easy to buy them. They are sold everwhere. From supermarkets to convenience stores like 7-Eleven and Lawson, each touting their secret original recipe soup stock. I do like the ones sold at 7-Eleven and at 100 yen per piece, it's convenient and cheap!

So the other day, I thought it would be a good idea to put up a recipe for Oden. I wanted to share this recipe with friends and family that lived away from Japan. However I remembered how difficult it was to find certain ingredients that usually are found in a traditional Oden.

Daikon radish, eggs and potatoes are easy and can be found practically everywhere around the world. But what about konnyaku? Some have never even heard of it. Fish cakes? What about Hanpen? You can already see how difficult it would be for a Westerner. And even if these things can be found in specialty stores, you'd probably have to spend a fortune getting these ingredients ready for one of the most humble dishes around.

So instead, my friend Satoshi and I decided to get creative. We got creative and tried to come up with our version of Oden that uses only ingredients that can be found almost anywhere. There is no fish cake or hanpen to be found. No mirin or sake for cooking? No problem. Now there are just two ingredients that you must have that are Japanese. They are Konbu and Bonito Flakes. These will be used to make an authentic Japanese soup stock and without these, it would just be a Western stew. And to make things easier, I put some links below so you can easily get them online.

The other option ( easier ) is to use instant Japanese soup stock or Hondashi. Many people prefer not to use these as they most often than not, contain MSG. However we use them and have no problem with it. But if you want to go natural all the way, get the Konbu and Bonito Flakes. There are many uses for them and they will keep for a long time. They are also quite nutritious and good for you and handy to keep around. I also promise to come up with a few more recipes using Konbu and Bonito Flakes in the very near future.

OK, I think that's enough talking. Get your ingredients ready and let's start cooking!

NOTE: Watch the video tutorial first to get an idea of what this dish is about. It's simple but can get confusing at first.

CLICK HERE FOR ODEN VIDEO TUTORIAL and then come back here if you need to.

This is a large bag of high-quality bonito flakes or Katsuo Bushi. This is exactly what we use to make Japanese soup stock or Dashi and is useful to add to other ingredients.

One way I love to use bonito flakes is to sprinkle a handful on top of cold tofu. Serve with sliced spring onions and soy sauce and you have a dish called Hiyayakko. The flakes are great on tofu steak as well as on top of fried rice or fried noodles.

There are literally many uses for bonito flakes and they keep for a very long time. Click on that bag of bonito flakes to easily purchase one for yourself on Amazon.

If you are a fan of Japanese cooking, you know that dashi is the main ingredient for most Japanese dishes. Some use just bonito flakes and others prefer konbu.

You can use either one to make a simple stock for miso soup. However here in Japanese, we have separate uses for them. For example we usually prefer using bonito flakes for miso soup.

For shabu shabu, konbu is the preferred ingredients for soup stock. Whatever the choice, it's handy to have konbu on hand. It's easy to use, super nutritious ( deep fry them for great konbu chips ) and keeps for a long time.

NOTE 2: Although I've given you a recipe for 2, Oden is usually prepared for a family. You can easily double the recipe to feed a family of four. You don't have to double up on the soup stock. Just double up on the ingredients that go in the hot pot and it's good to go!

Ingredients (Serves 2 as a main dish)

2 eggs
2 slices daikon radish (cut into 2 cm thickness)
12 Green beans (Three green beans secure to one toothpick. )
1 bunch enoki mushrooms
2 slices lean bacon or 4 slices ham (bacon cut in half)
2-4 sausages
4 asparagus spears
1 avocado (peeled, deseeded, cut in half)
1 large potato (peeled and cut into bite sized pieces)

Chicken Balls
200 grams ( 1 cup ) ground chicken
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/2 egg
1 tablespoon white wine
1 1/2 tablespoons spring onions ( minced )
1/2 onion

Soup stock
20 grams konbu
30 grams bonito flakes
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup white wine
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups water


Boil eggs for 12 minutes. Peel and set aside.
Cut daikon into 2 cm thickness ( about 1 inch ). Round the edges with knife for better absorption.
Boil daikon for 20 minutes or until just tender. Take out and set aside.
Make chicken balls by combining all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well with hands and blend. Roll into balls and set aside.
Separate enoki into 4-5 bunches with hands. Cut bacon in half and wrap around enoki bunches. Secure with toothpick. If using ham, you do not have to cut into half. 
Cut the konbu that you used for the soup stock into strips. Tie into ribbons. 
Boil potatoes in a sauce pan until just tender. Take them out and set aside.
Add soy sauce, white wine, sugar and salt into the soup stock. Mix well. 
Make soup stock. Put konbu in cold water. Heat until just before boiling and take out. Set konbu aside for later use. 
Add bonito flakes into the soup stock. Boil for 2 minutes. Drain in a colander. Discard the bonito flakes or save for another use. 
Add all the ingredients into the soup stock except for the sausages, potatoes and konbu ribbons
Simmer over medium low heat for 1 hour.
Add the potatoes, sausages and konbu ribbons.
Heat for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the sausages have been cooked through. 
Serve hot with mustard of choice.  

Viola! It's done! Now all you need to do is dig in!

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  1. I first saw oden in Lawsons in April 2012 on my 1st trip to Japan. I wanted to try it, but didn't know what it was, as we don't have it for sale here, and none of my friends talked about eating it. But when I go back in a few months, I'll be eating it. I could also eat it in Lawsons at the Moana Hotel too, but I rather go to Japan & not spend a fortune.

    1. I think they should still have it here during that time. Oden is usually sold at convenience stores, bento shops etc only during the colder months. But you can always go to an oden restaurant, where you can have it anytime of the year!

  2. Shinichi, this is a beautiful looking dish as well, your presentations are always gorgeous!


As always, your comments are appreciated. Thanks!