Sake Gumi
One of the ultimate comfort foods during winters in Japan is oden, which is essentially fishcake stew. Whether cooked at home, bought from the konbini (I hear that Japan's 7-11 makes it the best), or as a nightcap for businessmen to accompany cup after cup of sake, it is the darling of Japanese winter dishes. Oden is hearty, delicious, and extremely simple to make, once you have all your ingredients aligned.

Now you can get pre-packaged oden sets at your local Japanese supermarket instead of buying the fishcakes one by one, which gets pretty costly. This pack here is about $7 by a well known Japanese food brand, Kibun, and includes all the usual oden fishcakes as well as soup stock.

Boil all fishcakes once in water for a few minutes and drain. This releases a lot of the oil from the fishcakes. I know that the idea of the fishcake is a little bizarre, but its history in Japan goes back centuries and is a backbone of everyday Japanese cuisine (remember the Homo Sausage??).

In addition to the fishcakes, I like to add konnyaku (yam cake), daikon and eggs. Boil konnyaku and daikon for a few minutes in water and drain. You'll find that konnyaku is a little smelly, which is why you boil it first, I think. As for the daikon, I have no idea why that is pre-boiled (if anyone has a clue, please share. Isn't it funny how you just do things cause that's the way your mom did it, but don't know WHY???).

The soup stock and ingredients vary from region to region in Japan- Wiki is telling me that the soup is more intense in the Kansai region, and I know that they add beef in some regions, which my mom never did growing up (she's from Tokyo. Er, Saitama). The Kanto region is known for their lighter soup base.

Here is the soup base that comes with the fishcakes.

I'm a snob though, and make my own stock, although there really is nothing wrong with the above. Here is mine: just water soaked in konbu, some soy sauce and lots of sake. This here is what they refer to as UMAMI!

Bring all to a boil.

Then put on low heat and cover. I do this so the fishcakes soak up lots of the soup. I keep it on the heat for a while, about an hour (although 30 minutes would suffice). I actually like to cook my oden the night before I plan to eat it cause it tastes so much better the next day (same goes for curry).

Et voila! So easy, right? This really is a staple for cold winter months in Japan. Enjoy!



  • I love your Le Creuset!

    Jen on

  • Dude Aya, I see that it’s 70 over there right now. SWEET!

    Jen, Thanks! I’m a dork and named it Ruby. I love it! I cook everything in it. Do you have one? Prolly the best kitchen investment ever.

    kayoko on

  • yum yum yum - i’m gonna run out and get some oden right now!!!!

    ayagwa on

  • dear all, do you know where was oden found? city at japan or i need some history of oden, city, years, etc,


    adam on

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