OdenOden is the quintessential Japanese comfort food. It is a kind of hot pot or stew consisting mainly of daikon radish, konnyaku, and fish cakes stewed in a light soy flavored dashi broth. Other ingredients may include cubes of tofu, kinchaku tofu pouches filled with mochi (rice cakes) and vegetables, and boiled eggs. It is often served with karashi (hot mustard). We just mix a little Coleman’s mustard.

Oden is very popular and can be found in convenience stores across Japan where it is sold throughout the day. You can pick and choose your favorite ingredients from the stainless steel segmented container where the oden is simmering away. Once you have made your selection, a little broth is usually added to the takeaway. We enjoyed it very much and ate it at least once the few times we got to visit Japan.


It is not difficult to make oden at home if ready made fish cakes are used. These can be found at the frozen section of many Asian grocery stores. They usually come in a pre-packaged set with a variety of fish cakes and soup base. Some sets even come with the kinchaku tofu pouches.


One of the key ingredients in oden is dashi (soup stock) which can be easily be made in your kitchen. Only two ingredients are required – kombu (dried kelp) and katsuo-bushi (shaved dried skipjack tuna/bonito flakes). These ingredients are not difficult to find but they can be a little costly. Although purist will frown upon it, instant dashi can be used as a quick fix. I have done it both ways.

For more information on making dashi from scratch, check out No Recipes and Just Hungry.

Dashi Stock
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6 cups
  • 4 in (10cm) square kombu (dried kelp)
  • 1 cup (15g) katsuo bushi (shaved dried skipjack tuna/bonito flakes)
First Dashi Stock
  1. Fill a medium sized saucepan with 2¾ cups (660ml) water. Wipe kombu with a damp cloth and let it soak in the saucepan for an hour.
  2. Place uncovered over medium heat until water almost comes to a boil. Remove kombu and reserve for second dashi stock. Allow water to come to a boil.
  3. Pour in ¼ cup (60ml) cold water and immediately add katsuo-bushi. Turn off heat and allow katsuo-bushi to steep until it settles to the base of the pan without stirring. This will take about 10 minutes.
  4. Strain mixture with a coffee filter lined strainer.
  5. First dashi stock is now ready for use.
Second Dashi Stock
  1. Place reserved kombu and katsuo-bushi back into pan with 3 cups (720ml) water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Add another cup (15g) fresh katsuo bushi. Turn off heat and allow katsuo-bushi to steep until it settles to the base of the pan without stirring. This will take about 10 minutes.
  3. Strain mixture with a coffee filter lined strainer.
  4. Second dashi stock is now ready for use.

Oden tastes even more delicious the next day when allowed to sit overnight in the refrigerator. This never ever happen at our house unless it is by design. Do give it a try. It really is comfort food especially for this time of the year.

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1 small daikon (1 lb/450g)
  • 1 packet (9 oz/255g) konnyaku (yam cake)
  • 4 small (8 oz/225g) potatoes, peeled
  • 1 packet (9.6 oz/ 272g) oden set
  • 4 shiitake mushrooms, soaked for 30 minutes in hot water, drained and stems removed
  • Kombu knots (optional)
  • 4 Napa cabbage leaves
  • 4 oz (115g) spinach, washed and drained
  • 3 cups (720ml) second dashi stock or 3 cups (720ml) water and 1 tsp instant dashi
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • ¼ cup (60ml) mirin
  • ¾ tsp salt
  1. Peel daikon and cut into cylinders about ½ inch thick. Slightly shave the edges of each daikon cylinder. Cut konnyaku into 2 halves and then cut each half diagonally into triangles.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add daikon, konnyaku, and potatoes for 2 minutes. Remove with a strainer.
  3. Add assorted fish cakes from oden set to the boiling water. Drain and set aside.
  4. Combine dashi stock, soy sauce, mirin, and salt in a casserole pot. Bring it to a boil. Add daikon, konnyaku, potatoes, and mushrooms. Reduce heat and allow it to simmer for 30 minutes, skimming when necessary.
  5. In the meantime, scald Napa cabbage in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes. Do the same for spinach, about 30 seconds. Drain and squeeze out as much water as possible from vegetables.
  6. Place cabbage leaves on work surface. Divide spinach into 4 and fold into neat bundles. Place each bundle on each cabbage leaf. Roll up cabbage leaves.
  7. Place 2 cabbage rolls side by side and poke 2 bamboo skewers into the two cabbage rolls. Repeat with the other two cabbage rolls.
  8. Cut cabbage rolls into half between the two skewers. Trim off edges.
  9. Now, add assorted fish cakes, kombu knots, and skewered cabbage rolls to the oden. Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes. Turn off heat.
  10. Remove and serve immediately.

NOTE: This post was rewritten and updated on November 6th, 2013.

Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 😎

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  1. Spoon and Chopsticks says

    Great post… I haven't experimented many Japanese dish. This looks awesome. Thanks for sharing.


  1. […] Fish cakes are often used in Asian noodles. They are very tasty and store well in the freezer. You can purchase them at the frozen section of the Asian grocery store. The ones shown here are Japanese style fish cakes sold in bulk. I use them in fried and soupy noodles as well as oden. […]

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