My Lunch Can Beat Up Your Lunch!

Bento Recipe: Oden


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Basically, this is fishcake and vegetable stew. Don't let the list of ingredients scare you; you can customize it according to what you have. As long as you stick with the basic theme, you're good to go. As for amounts, I'm listing what I used; stick with them only as closely as you want to.

Pink spiralsWhat you need:

    For the broth:
    6.5 cups water
    2 tbsp hon-dashi
    6 tbsp soy sauce
    4 tbsp sake
    For the stew:
    4 small boiled eggs, or 3/4 cup boiled quail eggs, shells removed
    2 chikuwa (hollow fish paste sticks), cut into ovals
    3 oz of naruto maki (fish paste sticks with the cute swirlies, see the picture) cut into coins
    6 fish balls (you can buy these frozen)
    several peeled red potatoes or 1 russet, cut into bite-sized chunks (red potatoes are preferable because of firmness)
    2 cups of cabbage leaves, torn up
    2 scallion greens
    1 block of firm tofu, cut into dice-sized pieces
    1 cup of lotus root coins
    3/4 cup dried shiitake pieces

Other ingredients I've seen in oden recipes and plan to try in future batches: carrots, fried tofu, konnyaku, kampyo, octopus, oyster mushrooms, taro roots, and whatever else comes to mind. I've also seen packs of oden fixings in the frozen food section, and might give one of those a go.

So, how to cook it! Mix the broth ingredients well and bring it to a boil while you cut up whatever else you're going to put in the pot. Do not cut up the fish balls or boiled eggs before cooking. Do put the potato chunks in cold water until you're ready to cook them to remove some of the extra starch. When the water is boiling, add the other items. If you need to add a little more water to cover all the fishy, vegetably goodness, do so. Bring to a simmer, cover, and let cook for at least an hour. Check every so often, and if the liquid level gets too low, again, add more water.

After about an hour the flavors will have mixed and it's ready to serve. Some advise cooking it longer - two or three hours - and if you want to, go right ahead, but I'll take the fast food version.