Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Winter's Soup

Oden Japanese Winter Soup with recipe by Aki Nansai
Oden is a Japanese winter's soup that is flavorful, healthy, and worthy of the time it takes to assemble. This is a dish I like only when it's homemade. The trick is to find all of the ingredients. I am grateful to my cooking class teacher, Aki Nansai, for this recipe. It is made for celebrations and for guests.

Konnyaku may be hard to find outside of Japan but it offers up a lot of fiber and texture with minimal caloric gain and is thus widely consumed here as a health food. It is only available in Japan as it cannot be frozen. I is quite smelly which may be why you have to wash it with salt and then boil it for several minutes until it is warmed through before you cut it and put it in the soup. It has a mild taste so it is more that it gives the soup another chewing texture, visual variety, and a lot of fiber for the consumer.
Konnyaku is sprinkled with salt, squeezed, boiled 2-3 minutes and then cut into triangles
The Japanese Mountain Potato with it's sticky texture may be hard to find, but it is fine to substitute potato starch or corn starch.
Yamato Imo Mountain Potato is grated and gooey
In Japanese Yellowtail Tuna is known as Inada when it is one size and Buri when it is another. The winter season is an excellent time for Buri and so the fish cakes in this soup can be made with either inada or buri. Get thee to a fishmonger to find it. The fish is made into a paste for the Satsumage Fried Fish Cakes.
Inada or Buri for fish cakes needs to be skinned, cut, and made into a paste
Japanese tofu comes in many forms outside of the white blocks more familiar to western tofu eaters. This soup takes advantage of aburage fried tofu "drawstring" purses which get stuffed in this recipe with half sized dried mochi rice cake bricks. It also used atsuage fried tofu as the basis of the tofu fritters. Hopefully, you can source these items.

You will need to make a few recipes to assemble this soup, but it is worth the effort. You will make a chicken-dashi stock, fish cakes, tofu fritters, and tofu purses. When all is prepared, the soup is put together, boiled one last time, and served.
Satsumage Fried Fish Cakes & Ganmodoki Tofu Fritters
Satsumage Fried Fish Cakes

Gobo Burdock Root, 20 gm, cut into small sticks
Carrot, 20 gm, cut into small sticks
Buri Yellow Fin Tuna, 400 gm
Potato Starch, 2 tsp
Yamato Imo Japanese Mountain Potato, 50 gm, grated (may substitute more starch)
Egg, 1/2 (mix and use only half)
Fresh Ginger, grated, 1 tsp
Salt, 1/2 tsp
Black Sesame Seeds, 1 Tbsp
Sake, 1/2 Tbsp
Fry Oil

1. Cut gobo and place into a bowl of water to soak. Cut carrot and set aside.
2. Prepare the fish: skin, chop, and grind the fish into a paste either by hand, with a food processor, or with a suribachi grinding bowl.
3. Add to the fish paste: starch, potato if using, egg, ginger, and salt. Mix and then divide into two bowls.
4. In bowl one, add the gobo. In bowl two, add the carrot, sesame seeds, and sake.
5. Form into small patties (about 5 cm) to fry using a tablespoon and your hand. Shape them and press out the air to insure they are dense.
6. Fry fish cakes in oil heated to 170º C until golden brown and set aside on drain rack.
Atsuage Fried Tofu- soak, drain, and to be smash into paste
Ganmodoki tofu fritter batter in a suribachi grinding bowl
 Ganmodoki tofu fritter batter formed into a ball with ginkgo nut pressed into center
 Ganmodoki Tofu Fritters
Atsuage Fried Tofu, 2 blocks, soak in water, drain
Dried Tree Ear, 3-4 pieces, soak in water, drain, chop
Carrot, 30 gm, cut into thin sticks
Yamato Imo Mountain Potato or Potato Starch, 2 Tbsp
Salt, 1/3 tsp
Sugar, 1 tsp
Black Sesame Seeds, 1 tsp
Ginnan Ginkgo nuts or whole cooked Daizu Soy Bean, 12
Potato Starch, as needed
Fry Oil

1. Prep: Soak tofu 1-2 minutes in hot water to remove excess oil. Drain on rack or with paper towels. Soak tree ear in hot water 5 minutes, drain, and chop. Cut carrot into small thin sticks. Grate the mountain potato if you have one.

2. Make Paste: Grind tofu into a paste either by hand, with a food processor, or with a suribachi grinding bowl. Add salt, sugar. Stir in carrot and sesame seeds.

3. Form into balls: Form into small balls about 5 cm across. Press a nut (or bean) into the center and cover. Roll into potato starch.

4. Fry the balls: Heat fry oil to 170º C and fry the tofu fritters until golden brown. Set aside on drain rack.
Aburage Fried Tofu Purses made into Kinchaku "drawstring" tofu purses
Aburage Fried Tofu Pocket stuff with a half block of mochi
Kinchaku "Drawstring" Purses of Aburage Fried Tofu
Aburage Fried tofu purses, place in hot water, squeeze out, drain
Dried Mochi rice cake bricks, 2, cut in half
Toothpicks, 4

Place tofu into hot water 1-2 minutes, squeeze out water, and drain. Cut mochi bricks in half. Place half of a brick inside the tofu purse and contain with a toothpick through the top. This will boil in the soup.
Chicken Dashi Stock with konbu knots in the pressure cooker
Oden Japanese Winter Soup by Aki Nansai
Water, 10 cups
Konbu Dried Seaweed, 8 pieces of 3 cm x 15 cm, to become konbu knots
Katsuobushi Dried Bonito Fish Flakes, 20 to 30 gms
Konnyaku, 1 block, sprinkle with salt, squeeze it, boil it 2-3 minutes, then cut into triangle
Daikon Japanese Winter Radish, 1/2 (600 gms), cut into thick slices
Hard Boiled Eggs, 4, after boiling, peel shell
Carrot, 1, cut in thirds lengthwise and then into chunks of 3-5 cm
Chicken Wings, 4-5, wash and pat dry
Soy Sauce, 3 Tbsp
Salt, 1/2 Tbsp
Sake, 1 Tbsp
Sugar, 1 Tbsp
Mirin, 2 Tbsp
Satsumage Fried Fish Cakes
Ganmodoki Tofu Fritters
Kinchaku "Drawstring" Purses of Aburage Fried Tofu

1. Make dashi stock: In a large pot soak konbu in the water for 2 to 3 hours. Remove the softened konbu and tie into knots. Return konbu knots to the dashi water. Bring to boil. Add katsuobushi flakes and stop the fire. When flakes begin to fall, remove them with a sieve and save off to the side.

2. Prep: Sprinkle salt onto konnyaku, squeeze out, and boil for 2-3 minutes in a pot of water. Peel daikon and cut into thick slices. Boil daikon until just tender. Hard boil the eggs, cool down, and peel. Cut carrot. Wash chicken wings. Make satsumage, ganmodoki, and kinchaku.

3. Make Chicken Dashi Stock: Use a pressure cooker and cook chicken wings, konbu knots, carrot, and some of the dashi stock so as not to overfill the pressure cooker. Once it is under pressure, cook about 10 minutes.

4. Assemble the soup: In the large pot with the dashi stock add the cooked chicken dashi stock, soy sauce, salt, sake, sugar, and mirin. Bring to boil. Continue boiling and top with boiled eggs, satsumage fried fish cakes, ganmodoki tofu fritters, and kinchaku "drawstring" purses of aburage fried tofu, boiling 2-3 minutes. To serve, place one of everything onto each item into a bowl and dish up the broth.

Idatakimasu I humbly receive,
Oden with toppings in place and ready to serve into individual bowls

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