Oden is a simple Japanese stew that’s light and digestible, making it perfect to eat during treatment. Kombu seaweed is full of minerals, and in Chinese medicine it is thought to be cooling to... the body — a good thing during chemo or radiation. Note that while oden takes its time to cook, the actual working time in the kitchen is short and easy, and this recipe makes a large amount of soup that can be eaten over a few days.
Put the kombu in a large stock pot on the stove. Pour in just enough cold water to cover the kombu, then let it soak for at least 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn on the heat and warm until it’s nearly boiling. Then, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer.
Add the daikon and carrots to the pot, along with more water to cover the vegetables, if needed. Let the stew simmer gently until the vegetables are tender, about 1 hour. By this time the kombu will have become quite soft.
If using, mix the mustard powder with a little water to make it into a paste. Set aside.
Add the potatoes and cook for 20 minutes. Add the mirin, soy sauce, sugar, tofu, and hardboiled eggs. Cook for 20 minutes. Cut up the kombu — either in the pot with a spatula or by removing, chopping, then adding back to the pot.
Taste to adjust seasoning. (Add a little soy sauce if it needs saltiness and/or a little sugar if it needs sweetness.) Mix a small spoonful of the mustard powder into the broth for an added, spicy heat (optional). Serve with hot rice.
Kombu can all be found in the Asian food section of most grocery stores or in the health macrobiotic section of many health food stores.