Good Soups for Winter from Japan and Korea

Hi all,

Winter is pretty cold, and Seattle is unusually cold this year (thankfully no snow, just really frosty). So, soup is a great way to warm up, and share with the family. My wife makes a good oden soup:1

Japanese Oden

Oden is kind of soup you make (soy sacue and fish broth), and has many different kinds of things in it. Many of these little items are made from fish (i.e. fish rolls, chikuwa ちくわ), while others items include eggs, mochi, tofu, daikon radish, ginger, etc. If you go to 7-11 in Japan, which I highly recommend, you can buy oden, and pick which items you want in there. Also, you can still find oden food-carts in the streets of Japan, and there you can pick what you want and down to eat. Speaking of which, here is a list of the common things you’ll find in oden.

My wife though, buys it from a pre-made frozen set we get at the local Asian supermarket. She still prepares the eggs and daikon though, so it oden can take a long time to make even if it’s already pre-made. On the other hand, a pot of oden lasts for days, and I like to take some of it to work, even though it smells a bit.

Another soup I tried recently that I enjoy is Korean sundubu jjige (순두부찌개):

Korean Sundubu

The word “sundubu” means “soft tofu”, and all sundubu jjigae comes in a wide variety of soups, but they all contain soft tofu. Despite the tofu, I don’t think they’re vegetarian usually. Sundubu is also popular in Japan, I’ve noticed, when people want to eat Korean food. There it’s also called sundubu (スンドゥブ). My family and I went to a local sundubu place here in Seattle, and I ordered the kimchi-style sundubu jjigae. My wife, being Japanese, had seafood. 😉 It was good. Ridiculously good. The price was somewhat high, considering that sundubu is cheap, popular food in Korea, but it was quite good.

Anyhow, if you’re stuck in winter and cold, enjoy some good soup. A while back, a co-worker explained that all soups in the worked usually have three main ingredients also called the “Holy Trinity of Soups”. These three ingredients are different for each culture though. In Japan, it’s dashi, soy sauce and maybe mirin (cooking wine) I think, but I am not sure. The Holy Trinity for American soups is celery, carrots and onions (replace celery with green peppers if necessary). As long as you have all three ingredients, you can usually make a decent soup.

Stay warm and eat well! 🙂

1 Interestingly, the term “oden” is used in Korean language as well as odeng (오뎅), which was borrowed from Japanese language during the colonial era (1910-1945). The soup itself is somewhat different than oden, and is originally called eomuk (어묵), but the term odeng seems to be more common, especially among younger generations.

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Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

5 thoughts on “Good Soups for Winter from Japan and Korea”

  1. I love 떡국 (Ddukgook), Rice Cake Soup. It’s traditional to eat on New Year’s Day but is good anytime, especially now. MMmmm, may have to look up a recipe. One of the vendors at our local HMart food court has a great version.

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