Oden is a Japanese winter stew and it is one of my very favorite dishes in winter. The flavor of the simple broth penetrates all the veggies and tofu and it’s one of the most satisfying and savory dishes. In Japan this is very common and is even served in convenience stores in wintertime. This dish is not typically vegan but very easy to convert, I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know what you think!
Here, it’s still very much winter, we usually get a bit of snow in March, so I still have about a month until it really feels like Spring around here and I can start thinking about my garden.
In the meantime, this steaming stew is filling and helps melt away the winter blues. I’ve included how to make vegan dashi from scratch which can be used in a myriad of other Japanese dishes! Dashi is the soup stock which is the base for most Japanese soups and simmered dishes, such as in miso soup. Feel free to come back to the vegan dashi portion of this recipe and use it whenever you need to veganize a Japanese dish.
Some of the ingredients in this version are specialty items that I can only find at this time of year in the Japanese grocery, but don’t worry if you can’t find those specific items. The best part of this dish is really the simmered daikon radish, potato, and carrot! Just add a little fresh tofu and this dish is healthier for it anyway. Oil is not recommended on a plant-based diet, however, I think a little occasionally in a special dish is okay for me. Do whatever is best for you!
Ideas for Items you can put in Oden:
- Root Vegetables such as potato, carrot, daikon radish, parsnips, or turnips
- Tofu fresh or fried, here I’ve used ganmodoki which are potato tofu fritters
- Konnyaku balls made from yam starch, it’s a traditional ingredient but an acquired taste, skip if you cannot find them
- Leeks & Scallions are great for simmering or you could use scallions or garlic chives as a topping
- Mochi or rice cakes are super yummy in this dish, here I’ve used kinchaku or little fried tofu pouches that have a piece of mochi inside tied with a simmered string of gourd
Anything in season will work in this easy stew. If you try this recipe please let me know what your favorite items to add to vegan oden are in the comments below!
- 6 cups water
- 2 hand-sized pieces dried kombu kelp
- 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 4 dried woodear mushrooms
- ⅓ cup plus soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sake
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- 2 thick pieces daikon radish
- 1 large carrot, peeled & cut into chunks
- 4 yukon gold potatoes, peeled & cut into chunks
- 1 package mochi kinchaku (optional, sub mochi)
- 1 package ganmodoki (optional, sub tofu)
- 1 package konnyaku balls (optional)
- 1 cup veggie broth
- Peel the vegetables and then chop into large chunks.
- Place all your dashi ingredients in the pan, simmer lightly for 20 minutes till you get a light golden-colored liquid. You don't want to boil the kombu or it could become bitter. Strain and put back in the pan.
- Add the sake, mirin, veggie broth, soy sauce & coconut sugar. Stir till dissolved.
- Bring to a low simmer again, gently cook the root veggies till tender, around 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, blanch the fried tofu items in boiling water for 1 minute to remove the surface oil. Strain and set aside to cool.
- Then blanch the konnyaku in boiling water for 2-3 minutes to remove the smell. Strain and set aside to cool.
- Once the veggies are tender, add in the other ingredients and simmer lightly for another 10 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and cover, let cool for 20 minutes. You can also leave this overnight in the fridge then reheat the next day for the best flavor absorption.
- To serve, place a big piece of each item in everyone's bowls then spoon in the soup. Enjoy!