Comforting winter dishes and soups are everywhere this time of year, but we too often look to the bowls of northern Europe for inspiration. This season, our favorite brothy treat is a Japanese oden made with meaty oxtails by Toshi Ueki, master sushi chef and co-founder of Manhattan's Blue Ribbon Sushi Izakaya. A traditional Japanese winter dish, oden usually contains crab and fish cakes, daikon, dry tofu, and eggs. While oxtail oden isn't particularly common, it's known for possessing special powers.

"It's supposed to give you great energy to recover after a long day at work," says Ueki. Often sold from food carts in Japan, oden is a specialty of Ueki's mother, which is why he says the dish "gives [him] a warm and homey feeling like no other." The chef adds that anyone following his lead should be sure to use plenty of oxtail, trim the fat, and add usukuchi (a light, salty soy sauce) with mirin instead of basic soy sauce.

Oxtail Oden Recipe
(Serves 8)

Ingredients

  • 12 cups beef stock
  • 1 lb oyster mushrooms, diced
  • 1/2 lb daikon, peeled and chopped into 1-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 lb oxtail bones
  • 1.5 lb bok choy, roughly chopped

Step One
Reinforce your beef stock with oxtails: Add oxtails and daikon to broth, bring to a boil, and simmer for 1 hour.

Step Two
Remove oxtail bones, and separate meat from bones. Return meat to broth and discard bones.

Step Three
Return the flame to high heat, add oyster mushrooms and bok choy, bring to a boil, and then lower heat back to a simmer.

Step Four
Allow oden to cool slightly, but serve while still hot.