A quick fix Japanese Oden

Dear friends, do you know what Oden is?

Well, Oden is a Japanese dish. It is closest to the dish Yong Tau Foo we eat here in Singapore, but it tastes quite different.  You seldom see it in Japanese restaurants here, and even if you see it on the menu and order it, you quite often get the response that it’s ‘out of stock’. Recently, a few oden specialty shops opened in Singapore. They include Kappo Yorito (which I hear is rather expensive) and Sundaime Bunji. As you know, I am half Japanese.  Yes, my mother is from Osaka and she has been living in Singapore since 1967.  She is Singaporean by now, and has a pink IC.  I have a pink IC too and I am so ‘Singaporean’ that people are often very surprised when they find out that I am not 100% Chinese.  But that’s another story.

Today, I want to tell you how easy it is to make Oden.

Last evening, I had a craving for Oden, but realized that I did not have most of the ingredients I needed to cook oden, so I simply did a REALLY easy version of Oden, kind of like an “Oden 101”. Now, I have absolutely no idea how the experts in Japan prepare the dish, but this is how my mom cooked it since I was a kid, and I think it works very well.  Here are the ingredients you need to make the Oden stock.

Tsuyu (Japanese Soup Stock)
Tsuyu (Japanese Soup Stock)
Udon Dashi
Udon Dashi
Radish (preferably from Japan)
Radish (preferably from Japan)
Chikua (Japanese grilled fishcake)
Chikua (Japanese grilled fishcake)
Kombu
Kombu
One piece of Kombu suffices
One piece of Kombu suffices

Notes: Radish – Always get the Japanese ones. They are more expensive, but the texture of the radish is smoother when cooked.  I find the Malaysian radish very tough to chew on (fibrous), even after boiling it for a long long time. Chikua – Grilled Japanese fishcake.  There are many types of Japanese fishcakes. In a full recipe of Oden, you use practically all the types you can see in the supermarket here.  But I only had this in my freezer yesterday, so it just had to do.

Cooking Method:

Soak a stick of Kombu for 30min. (15min is fine if you are in a hurry, the longer you soak, the richer the flavour, similar to Chinese mushrooms)

Soak Komnu in a pot of water

With the Kombu and stock, add more water and turn on the heat.  The amount of water you have altogether depends on how much stock you like.  My family likes the stock a lot, so I put in a lot of water so that they can drink it like a soup.  But in restaurants, it’s not served soup style. Peel the radish, slice it into ~1.5cm  thick pieces and add it to the pot.

Sliced radishAdd radish to pot of kombu stock

Add one packet of Udon dashi (more if you need to – taste it to gauge), and about 2 tablespoons of Tsuyu. Let it come to a boil and then simmer for about 15 – 20min until the radish is soft (I poke a chopstick through the radish to check).  Add the sliced grilled Chikua and boil for another 5 – 10min (they come cooked).  Put in about 1 teaspoon of Mirin (no photo here, but you all know what Mirin is right?). And, I’m almost ashamed to tell you that the dish is cooked.  Yup, it’s that easy.

Oden

Oops, I think I am an awful photographer. I’d better make more effort in my photo taking the next time.

A portion of Oden

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