Glum would have to be an understatement when it comes to describing how I feel right now, blue even more so. I know it’s part of the recovery process following a bout of the flu, but I wish I didn’t have to feel so blah, so tired, and so angry with the world.
It also doesn’t help that my taste-buds are still out of whack and I’m in desperate need of something soupy yet stodgy all at the same time. This is where the notion of oden-ramen comes in.
Oden is a classic Japanese winter dish most commonly sold at street-stalls near bars at night. It involves a variety of things, mostly boiled eggs, radish chunks, and fish cakes in a dizzying array of forms and flavors all cooked in a dashi, soy sauce, or miso paste-based broth. (Hence its original name of miso-dengaku – literally “stuff cooked and eaten with miso“.) Fish-cakes (and those made with squid, cuttlefish, shrimp, and scallops) prepared in this manner are virtually unheard of in this part of the world, but they are widely available deep-fried and sold four or five to a skewer. Believe me when I say that this actually makes things easier.
As for noodle bowls, any supermarket or extensively stocked convenience store has them. I’m not talking about the local knock-offs which give you a bare mouthful of noodles floating in an ocean of broth, I’m talking about those Japanese, Taiwanese, and Korean imports that are huge, deep, and pretty much leave you stuffed with equal helpings of both noodles and soup. Once you’ve picked a bowl (the Nissin Demae Ramen in chicken-sesame [the red bowl with the blond noodle-boy mascot] is ace and anything by Nong Shim of Korea rocks), it’s laissez les bon temps rouler.
As for the oden component of this particular lunch bowl, I hied off to my local Potdog stall to grab some seafood bites. This bowl features lobster balls studded with sweet corn kernels, crab eggs (so named because they look like sliced boiled eggs, albeit made with fake crab), squid nuggets (chewy, savory squid cakes with bits of spring onion), and faux crablets. Totally, utterly delish if you ask me: the seafood bites stay crisp on the outside yet tender within despite being soaked in the broth and the starchy noodles bring the nutty sesame flavor of the broth and the flavors of the bites into high relief.
Okay, so it may not be the healthiest thing to eat for lunch, but I don’t freaking care. It helped cheer me up and fill my belly all at the same time – that, by itself, makes it worthwhile.