Oden Hot Pot
If someone asked me what my favorite Japanese food is, I would unequivocally say oden. It’s a comfort food because it’s full of Japanese ingredients like daikon, kamaboko fish cake and ganmodoki, the fried tofu fritter. Also, my mom made it for special occasions, so I associate it with good times. I love how the ingredients soak up the flavors of the kombu broth, almost to the point that they rise out of the liquid while they are cooking. Just like many popular dishes, there are some traditional ingredients, but there is also a lot of room for creativity to vary the look and taste. Note: The satoimo potato is a traditional ingredient in this dish and would be an excellent addition.
5 cups water
2 pieces kombu seaweed (4 x 4 inches each)
0.3 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms (about 4)
1.5 ounces fresh oyster mushrooms (about 4)
¼ cup light-colored soy sauce
¼ cup mirin
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1.5 pounds daikon (1 medium)
2 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
1 package kamaboko fish cake
4.8 ounce package satsuma fish cake (6/package)
3.5 ounce package chikuwa fish cake (2/package)
5.4 ounces ganmodoki tofu fritter (3 large)
9 ounces konnyaku (3 x 5 inch block)
8 abura-age fried tofu
1. Wash the daikon with water; peel, and cut crosswise into 1 ½ inch thick rounds. (You can save the peel to make pickles). In a 3-quart pot, boil the daikon in about 4 cups of water or enough to cover daikon, five minutes. Drain the daikon in a colander. This pre-boiling step helps to get rid of the strong cooking odors of daikon.
2. Cut the konnyaku into 1 inch by 3 inch flat pieces. You can make a twist in the konnyaku pieces by cutting a slit in the middle and bringing one end through the slit, taking care not to rip the slit open. This makes the konnyaku decorative and helps it absorb the flavors of the broth.
3. Cut the fish cakes and tofu ingredients into 1 to 2-inch pieces, with the exception of the kamaboko, which can be cut into ½ inch crosswise pieces. Fish cakes and tofu ingredients can be cut at a diagonal, in triangles or in squares, but don’t cut them too small, or they might fall apart during the long simmer.
4. Put 5 cups of water in a shallow 4-quart pot; add the kombu and mushrooms. Bring it to a gentle boil; then lower the heat to a simmer. Add the soy sauce, mirin, sugar and salt. Then add the daikon, boiled eggs, and the rest of the ingredients that you prepared above. Keep each ingredient in its own spot in the pan as this makes serving out of the pan much easier. Submerge the ingredients in the broth by placing a ceramic plate over the top of it or a small lid to weigh it down. Simmer, partially covered, for one hour. Before serving, remove and discard the stems from the shitake mushrooms, and cut the kombu into 4 pieces. Serve warm or at room temperature. It tastes better the next day.