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Posts Tagged ‘chikuwa’

Oden is Japanese home cooking at it’s finest as well as being a favorite winter-time treat. While the ingredients can vary, the basis of oden is to have a slightly salty dashi broth filled with fish cakes, daikon, konnyaku, hard-boiled eggs, and potatoes. Slowly simmered and warm in the belly, this is true comfort food. In Japan, it’s served at home, in restaurants, at street vendors, and you can even get it warm from vending machines (you can get anything in a Japanese vending machine, and I do mean anything!).

To start I made a good dashi broth. I used about 1/3 cup of dried anchovies, 3 tablespoons of mirin, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Most oden sets come with their own little packets of soy flavoring. They are usually pretty good, but it’s just as easy to do it yourself giving you more control over the flavor.

I let the anchovies simmer in 4 cups of boiling water for about an hour. I wanted every last bit of flavor out of the fish and into the broth.

I strained the broth and discarded the anchovies. Then I mixed in the mirin, soy, and salt.

You can buy oden sets at any Japanese market and some Asian markets. We got two two-person sets that were on sale from Mitsuwa, each containing a variety of fish cakes. Some with carrot in them, some with burdock root, some grilled, most deep fried. We also had a package of chikuwa fishcakes that we used. I skinned and chopped two russet potatoes, medium boiled 4 eggs (just enough to peel the shell off, since they were going to simmer in the dashi for a while I didn’t want to overcook the yolk too much), 1 daikon skinned and chopped, a bunch of green onions chopped, and a couple packaged of shirataki konnyaku.

Once the dashi was ready I added the eggs and daikon and simmered them, covered, over a low heat for an hour. This allows both to absorb a lot of the dashi flavor.

Then I added the potatoes and konnyaku. If you boil the potatoes too long they will fall apart and melt into the broth. I only let them simmer for about 20 minutes. That’s also enough time for the konnyaku to take on some flavor. If you’re using sliced blocks of konnyaku instead of the shirataki noodles you’ll need to add them about 20 minutes earlier.

Since most of the fishcakes are deep fried before packaging they can sometimes have a little bit of grease residue. Because of that I boil and drain them seperately for a few minutes before adding them to the dashi, that gets rid of any unwanted oil. They also are fully cooked so just need to be heated up. After about 5 minutes in the dashi, along with the green onions, the oden is ready to go.

To serve it up I divied one of each for both of our bowls and then laddles some dashi on top. Oden is great with a cold beer and some white rice, I covered our rice with ground sesame seeds. I tell you though, oden is even better the next day. It is a stew, so once all of the flavors fully penetrate the ingredients you really have a special dish here. The daikon and egg for lunch today were outstanding!

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The other night Yuki and I cooked together. We made one of my favorites, chicken hijiki rice, along with some vegetables that we needed to use up.

Making the rice is easy as can be. We used 1.5 tablespoons of dried hijiki seaweed, 4 shiitake sliced, 1 carrot sliced in half moons, and 1/2 pound of skinless chicken thighs. While I rinsed off 2 cups of rice and cut up the vegetables Yuki cut up the chicken and quickly sauteed it in sesame oil. After filling the rice cooker with the proper amount of water for 2 cups of rice I put the hijiki in and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Then we tossed everything else in, turned on the cooker, and let it go.

I made a sesame dressing for some pea pods that were in our fridge. I used 1 tablespoon of miso paste, a pinch of sugar, 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, and 1/2 tablespoon of mirin.

I toasted the sesame seeds in a dry skillet for a few minutes until they turned a golden brown and started to give off their fragrance. Then I ground them with my pestle and mortar. I added the rest of the ingredients, mixed them all together, and set it aside. I simply steamed the pea pods for about 4 minutes when the rice was ready. Then I tossed them with the sesame dressing.

We also had some chikuwa and 1/2 a zucchini to use up. Chikuwa are tubular, hollow fish cakes that have been baked or grilled. I sliced the zucchini into long sticks and stuffed the chikuwa with them. Once the rice was ready and the pea pods steaming I just put them in the toaster oven and toasted them for about 6 minutes. I drizzled them with the sesame dressing as well.

While I was doing that Yuki made some miso soup. I didn’t watch her make it, but she put in it sliced onion and wakame.

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