All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Oden / fishcake, tofu and daikon radish stew

With its steam and heavenly aroma wafting up from a large, softly bubbling pot, this dish envelops you in a comforting warmth, and is a mainstay of cold winter months. It is available at specialty restaurants, street stalls and even convenience stores -- and, of course, at home. This is my standard oden as passed down by my mom, with the addition of some techniques adopted from her friend's oden restaurant.


(Serves 4-6)
20 cm daikon radish
2 carrots
4 medium potatoes
4 eggs
1/2 konnyaku yam cake
1 yakidofu broiled tofu
4 ganmodoki deep-fried tofu patties
4 satsumaage fishcakes
2 chikuwa grilled fishcakes
4 hanpen-type fishcakes (or 1 hanpen)
4 small or 2 large usuage thin deep-fried tofu
2 mochi rice cakes
12-15 ginnan gingko nuts

8-10 cm kombu kelp
1,500 cc water (for kobu dashi stock; not in photo)
1,000 cc katsuo dashi
200 cc sake
1 tbsp + 1 tsp salt
1 1/2 to 2 tbsp soy sauce

Karashi mustard (for serving; not in photo)


Soak kombu kelp in water.


Make hard-boiled eggs.
Put eggs and enough water to cover, heat on medium high, and stir eggs (in order to center egg yolk) until water starts to bubble. Boil for 12 minutes.
Drain, and cool.
Remove shells.


Cut, skin and prep-boil daikon in water to which rice grains have been added or water used to clean rice (see daikon radish prep-boiling).


Skin and boil potatoes.
Skin carrot, cut into 4-5 cm, and boil.
Both potatoes and carrots are cooked until just soft enough for a skewer to go through.


Cut konnyaku into 4-6 pieces and prep-boil (see konnyaku prep). 


Boil or pour boiling water over all deep-fried ingredients (satsumaage, ganmodoki, usuage, etc.).


Cut chikuwa into two, and yakidofu into four.


Crack gingko shells with a hammer, remove shells, blanch, and remove skin.

Put several on each toothpick, and set aside.


Make usuage + mochi packets.
Cut mochi rice cake in half, put a piece in each usuage packet, and close with a toothpick. 

Set aside.


When most ingredients (especially daikon) are close to being ready, start heating kobu dashi (water with kombu).


When daikon is ready, rinse with water, and immediately put in kobu dashi


Add sake and other ingredients (except for usuage + mochi packets and  ginnan gingko nuts) as they become ready. When liquid is almost boiling, remove kombu kelp (optional).
Add enough katsuo dashi to keep all ingredients, especially heavy vegetables and tofu, immersed. Some ingredients are light and float on the surface; these need less attention (flip occasionally to ensure they take on flavor).


When liquid starts to boil, add salt, cover, and simmer on medium low heat for 1 hour.
Ideally, the broth should bubble very gently.
Add katsuo dashi as necessary to keep (heavy) ingredients immersed.


Add soy sauce, first 1+ tbsp (less than 1 1/2 tbsp at this point), and continue simmering for another 30 minutes.

If time allows, turn off heat and let cool completely.


If you don't have the time to wait for hours, add gingko nuts and usuage + mochi packets, simmer for another 20 minutes, taste, and add more soy sauce as necessary.

If oden has been allowed to cool, add gingko nuts and usuage + mochi packets when starting to reheat. When hot, taste, and add more soy sauce as necessary.


Serve hot with karashi mustard.

  • Hard-boiled eggs can be prepared in advance, even a day or two ahead of time. When peeling shells immediately after boiling, place eggs in a Tupperware container that holds all eggs relatively tightly, add water to cover eggs to 1/3 of their height, tightly cover, and shake vigorously to crack shells. The shaking lets air get between the hard shell and membrane underneath, and makes peeling easy.
  • Among oden vegetables, daikon is the most affected by not getting enough broth. The surface becomes dry and wrinkled if exposed to air for a long time after prep-boiling. Daikon also tends to float on the surface of broth, so put satumaage or ganmnodoki over daikon to keep it happy and immersed.
  • If you have leftovers for the next day, add 100+ cc dashi before putting oden away in the fridge. This way, it will not taste too salty the next day.
  • The broth tastes good but is high in sodium. A taste is OK, but consuming a large amount is not recommended.
  • If using karashi powder, first mix the powder with less than an equivalent amount of water to make a relatively firm paste. To bring out a pungent aroma, keep mixing after water is completely incorporated. Then add a small amount of water to loosen the paste to the desired softness. 
  • Oden ingredients and broth recipes vary by region. Other common ingredients include knotted kombu kelp, octopus, chikuwabu gluten cakes, satoimo baby taro root and beef tendon.
  • Reduced-sodium oden recipe is found here

(Last updated: February 4, 2016)

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