Monday, November 27, 2006
Well, I’ve always been a bit in denial about Thanksgiving. I never really understood about Thanksgiving dinner & Christmas dinner. Which is bigger? Which one do you go “all out” for? BOTH? It confuses me & no one seems to have a reasonable explination. We do have a small bird in the freezer that we got on sale at Costco (REALLY small: 2.5 kg) I’ll pull out once I’m over my outstanding cold & have any energy.
But for now it would only seem appropriate then that we should have ODEN for dinner on Thanksgiving. I shall now expound on the wonders of Oden.
Clears throat & jumps upon soap box:
Oden is what separates Japan’s 7/11’s from the US’s. Oden is what you eat at your Obachan & Ojichan’s when you go for Oshogastu. Oden is what my Mother in law wishes was never invented. Orignating in KANTO area (that’s right all you Kansai folk) It used to be called dengaku & was just a fish dumpling on a stick dipped in miso, not much to look at. Soon they were just calling it “den” then gave it the honorific “O” at the beginning, I guess to show that thy REAAAAALLLY liked it on freezing cold nights. And didja know that in Osaka they sometimes call it “Kanto Daki” (see…see, told you, we started it). And I do it the Kanto way, where all the ingrediants are simmered together to blend the flavor as opposed to quickly so that each item retains it's own flavor in the Kansai way.
So here’s what I did to get my Oden last night. First off I shall tell you the list of ingredients I used last night. (Please don’t faint for the length) The good thing about oden is that you can stick nearly anything in it. Well, OK, not celery, but squash, turnip, carrots, potatos are fine too. Gobo, renkon, agedofu & any kind of chikuwa or fish cake. Any gaijin daft enough to put beets in it will have to learn the hard way though.
- 100 g. Gyusuji (I’m not sure what this is called in English, but it’s the really fatty cut of beef, tough as rubber unless it’s simmered for hours)
- Dashi (4 cups)
- ¾ c shoyu
- ¾ c mirin
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 daikon
- 3 cakes of konyaku
- 2 packs of chikuwa
- 12 hardboiled eggs, peeled
- 4 larger sato imo (country potato, boil for 5 min & peel & cut)
- 4 pieces of konbu (It was actually konbu for making my dashi but it worked just as good for oden, I thought. Don’t tell my Obachan)
- 4 potatoes peeled cut & pan fried for 5 min w/ oil
- 2 prepackaged “oden” kamaboko & other oden fillings (S.O got these for 200Y each at the “cheep veggie store”)
OK, 3 years ago my sweet & eccentric neighbor lady told me that the secret to good oden is gyusuji. So that’s where you start.
- Gyusuji: Fry up the gyysuji & put it to simmer in about 6 c of water in your LARGE pot, for at least 2 hours
- Daikon: Peel & cut your daikon into 1 inch slices & boil till tender (knife goes through clean)
- Konyaku: another lesson I learned the hard way, you have to get the bad taste off the konyaku by washing then liberally shaking salt on both sides & rubbing it on the cutting board for about 30 sec. each side. Cut into triangular shapes
- add 4 cups of dashi & shoyu, mirin & salt to the gyusuji stock, mix & bring to a boil. Don’t be alarmed. It won’t smell like oden first off. The first time I made it I was feeling doomed at this point. It’s the ingredients that give it the “oden” taste.
- first ingredients in should be daikon & konyaku & konbu, simmer on low with the lid off for ½ hr
- add the rest of the ingredients & simmer on low for at least 90 min.
And it’s Dekiagari!! Bring it to the table & let everyone take what they like. Serve with libral amounts of karashi (mustard paste) & shichimi (7 spice) This recipe was quickly consumed by 5 adults & 5 kids who were under the impression that it was their last supper.
If you’re not in the country where they have a whole section of the supermarket dedicated to Oden fillers then I guess you’ll have to settle for a turkey dinner. Happy Thanksgiving!