Odeng, A Beloved Out Of Reach

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It has been months since my first visit to South Korea and there are many things I sorely miss. I miss my friend’s family who welcomed me into their warm and loving home. I miss the mix of tradition and the contemporary found in Seoul, I miss the food. Now speaking of food, there is one thing I have been craving for. One of many things I will never have until I return to Korea: Odeng (오댕). How I miss it, that delight of fish.

Fish Cake And Heavenly Soup

Language Note

Let us first get a language fact out of the way before any purist starts to complain. The word Odeng (오댕) is the Koreanized version of the Japanese word Oden (おでん). The actual Korean word for the main ingredient is oemuk (어묵) and the street food’s actual Korean name is oemukguk (어묵국).

However, as most stalls will put this as Odeng (오댕) on the menu, we will use it throughout the post rather than oemukguk (어묵국)

If you know Oden, then you know what Odeng (오댕) is. If you do not, let me explain. Odeng is a street food that sells fishcakes on long skewers boiled in a delicious broth. A cup of said broth is always given to accompany your bought skewer. While Koreans eat these skewered delights throughout the year, it is especially popular during the winter as the hot broth warms your soul in the winter cold.

If I were to describe Odeng, I would say it is in my humble opinion a street food that can claim to be the most suitable to be street food. It is easy to eat on the street and an utter delight. The fish cake is chewy with plenty of taste and the accompanying soup is simply marvellous. In fact, for me, it is the soup that is truly what makes it wonderous and what makes my heart ache that these days I cannot go out to buy it. How I miss it. I am counting the days to when I return to Korea. As soon as I step off that aeroplane, I will go straight to a market, find myself an Odeng stall and spend an hour doing nothing but eat Odeng.

Still not convinced how about the heavenly properties of this fishy dish? Then let this video clip from a popular Korean food show convince you:

Making Odeng Yourself

If you are outside Korea, chances are you won’t be able to find a food stall that makes this skewered fishy delight. However, that doesn’t have to mean you cannot try to make it yourself. However, I would advise you not to make the oemuk (어묵), the fishcake itself, yourself. Making those things yourself is an absolute hassle. It is far better to just buy the fishcake when available in your local Asian supermarket. The soup, on the other hand, you can make yourself and there are quite a few recipes for it out there. Of course, the taste will never be the same as the taste found in the markets of Seoul. Nonetheless, It is probably better than waiting in anguish like me.

To help you get started on your Odeng creation journey, I’ll give you links to three recipes by Korean food bloggers I follow myself. These ladies tend to have easy to follow recipes for delectable Korean dishes. So have fun with their Odeng recipes!

Though, of course, you could also just follow the instruction of one of Korea’s accomplished chefs:

If you tried to make Odeng yourself, do let me know what you thought of the result. I would certainly like to know!

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November 21, 2019

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