Almost anywhere in the US you can find Japanese restaurants serving miso soup, udon soup, and ramen. It is very rare to find a place that offers “oden”. Oden is a type of Japanese one-pot dish that starts with a light and savory broth and finishes with various ingredients boiled in the broth.
Before our honeymoon, my half-Japanese husband talked about how the best and most authentic oden can be found served in convenience stores like 7-11. I wasn’t interested. Then on our last day in Tokyo, we walked to a convenience store and found their hot simmering oden in the food corner. All the toppings were skewered making it easy to grab and go. They had the oden staples: Assorted fishcakes and fish balls, daikon, mochi pouches, eggs. It was delicious.
I never thought of recreating oden at home, but then I found a package of assorted fishcakes at an Asian grocery store. While searching through my fridge, I also found a bag of Japanese ingredients left behind by my mother-in-law’s last visit, and it had all I needed to create an easy broth. Here are photos of the ingredients so you can know what to look for. Traditionally the broth should start with kombu, but I didn’t have any so I improvised and used bonito dashi powder instead.
4 cups of water
1 packet of bonito dashi powder
5 pieces of dried sardines (niboshi)
1/2 cup bonito flakes
1 package of assorted fish cakes
2 hardboiled eggs
1. Heat the water in a medium pot until boiling. Add the dashi powder, sardines, and bonito flakes. Stir once and reduce the heat to medium. Let the broth simmer for at least 10 minutes. I made hardboiled eggs while waiting :).
2. Remove and discard the sardines from the broth. Add soy sauce to the broth to your taste. Then add the assorted fish cakes and let them simmer in the broth for another 5 minutes. Add the eggs. Serve hot.