Going Ronin Rogue with Japanese Oden

A couple of weeks ago I saw/read somewhere (I’ve forgotten where) about some suggestions for Japanese programs on Netflix involving cuisine.  I think there were four or 5 that I previewed but became fascinated by Samurai Gourmet, a series about a diffident, newly retired 60 year old man who, having devoted his life to his job, retires with no hobbies or interests and feels understandably lost in a world that he’s never really seen or experienced as an adult.  Accompanied by an imaginary ronin samurai he starts to explore the wonders of food and beer or sake at noon in traditional restaurants.  The food is drool worthy and each episode leaves me starving.  Really.

In one episode he and his wife go to a restaurant that specializes in Oden,  a variety of slow simmered vegetables and some seafood in a seasoned dashi broth.  Well, I wanted to eat everything feature in each of the episodes, but I NEEDED to eat Oden.  No Japanese in Honesdale,  it was up to me.  I was able to order some supplies from Amazon but couldn’t find everything.  Craving oden, I went ronin rogue with determination, using one of the blogs I follow, Just One Cookbook, as my hand holder.  This is a wonderful blog and I thank Nami for her inspiration and wonderful recipes.  If you can, get all the correct ingredients and make it her way.

Dashi stock is fairly simple to make and I was able to get the Kombu (dried kelp) and Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) from Amazon.  After preparing the dashi, I flavored it with Usukuchi soy sauce (light color), tamari soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar and salt.

I poured the seasoned dashi into my grudgingly seasoned donabe clay pot cooker.

Ready now to prepare the vegetables, I began with the daikon that was available at the local supermarket.  Following Nami’s advice, I boiled the daikon in rice water left over from washing rice.

I also boiled and peeled 6 eggs and set them aside with the cooled daikon.

Next on the list was nishime kombu (dried seaweed) that I couldn’t find for love nor money.  Unwilling to totally eliminate seaweed from the pot, I substituted broken pieces of nori seaweed.  Not the same thing at all but it was okay.  While searching for the seaweed, I optimistically peeked into the refrigerator units, wishing for frozen nishime kombu.  Of course it wasn’t there but I did discover some frozen, uncooked octopus.  I had decided that the octopus sashimi would necessarily have to be eliminated but, going rogue, I convinced myself that this octopus wouldn’t be that bad as both are raw.

Guys, there were rounded objects attached to the tentacles that I assume were heads.  Well I cut those off and garbaged them PDQ!  We’ll have none of that 😀  I threaded the tentacles onto wooden picks.

I couldn’t find konnyaku (konjac) except in the noodle form (shirataki) and that wouldn’t do at all, so I did without.  A real and important loss but I’m planning a trip to the Asian food store in New Jersey soon and will stock up on these staples.

I placed the boiled eggs, daikon, a sliced leek, the skewered octopus and nori pieces into the broth along with 1/2 bag of dried shrimp for extra umami and to get rid of them 😀

In the meantime, with the vegetables on a slow simmer for 2 hours, I prepared the fish cakes and the mochi stuffed aburaage.  I always have fish cakes and aburaage because I like them for bento boxes.

My mistake was in not cutting the mochi (rice cake) small enough to fit into the aburaage (fried tofu pouches) allowing them to be closed with a tooth pick.  I could have taken the mochi out again and cut it smaller but I was in ronin rogue mode and couldn’t be bothered.  After 2 hours, I placed the fish cakes and stuffed aburaage into the donabe with sliced carrots, recovered it and simmered for another 30 minutes.  The rice cake, predictably bubbled over but this was so delicious!  I still want to go to a Japanese restaurant for this dish but this did satisfy my craving.

Follow the link above to the recipe at Just One Cookbook.



About cookinginsens

An American living in Burgundy, France
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5 Responses to Going Ronin Rogue with Japanese Oden

  1. So pretty and looks so delicious. I don’t cook it often but I do love the Japanese flavours.

  2. Mad Dog says:

    Brilliant – I love the idea of the TV show and your subsequent adventure. The last time I went to the Japanese grocery store, for some very specific ingredients, they took me next door to a convenience store and showed me which things I could safely substitute instead of paying for expensive imports. Evidently they were not the owners, but it was, nevertheless, a great kindness.
    I just watched the trailer for the show and will have to watch more!

  3. Michelle says:

    You are a trooper! But, OMG, mochi stuffed aburaage? I didn’t know that was a thing. Fabulous.

  4. Rowena says:

    This sounds like the kind of dish that I could work myself up over, but first I would need to get the proper clay pot. I suppose a korean dolsot would work as well (it’s on my list on Amazon, along with a bunch of other exotic things…gosh that website is like a carrot on a string for me).

  5. I’ve never cooked Japanese food but I enjoy eating it. This weekend I watched some lessons on Craftsy and I loved the order and gentleness which was involved in the whole process of cooking…very different from my own way of cooking was beautiful and impressive.

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