What is “Oden”? Introducing Japan’s Local Food
Written by aki
In the cold winter months, oden appears on the Japanese dinner table.
Have you ever heard of “oden“?
Whether you already know what oden is or have never heard of it, check out what it’s all about!
What is Oden?
“Oden” is a dish in which various ingredients are simmered for a long time in a broth.
The ingredients to be added and the seasoning of the soup stock vary from region to region and family to family.
Its history dates back to the 14th century, and it has been a popular food for the common people since that time.
What are some of the ingredients in oden?
Here are some of the typical oden ingredients!
daikon (variety of large white Oriental radish, Raphanus sativus var. longipinnatus)
Radish soaked in dashi broth. It is very juicy and soaks up the hot soup stock.
You can add hot pepper to it if you like.
A boiled egg cooked in dashi broth for a long time. It is also recommended to eat it with oden soup.
Beef sinew is a popular menu item. It is also a great snack for drinks.
Shiratataki and konnyaku
High in dietary fiber and low in calories, konjac is a very popular food among women as it is good for diet and beauty.
*What is Shirataki?
Shirataki (Japanese: 白滝, often written with the hiragana しらたき) or ito-konnyaku (Japanese: 糸こんにゃく) are translucent, gelatinous traditional Japanese noodles made from the konjac yam (devil’s tongue yam or elephant yam). The word shirataki means ‘white waterfall’, referring to the appearance of these noodles. Shirataki noodles (or konjac noodles) are made from 97% water and 3% konjac and glucomannan, a water-soluble dietary fiber, they are very low in digestible carbohydrates and food energy, and have little flavor of their own.
Chikuwa(tube-shaped fish-paste cake)
Chikuwa is a processed food made by heating fish paste.
When used in oden, it soaks up the flavor of the broth and becomes more flavorful.
Hanpen（Japanese soft fish cake）
Hanpen is also a processed food made from fish paste. It is characterized by its fluffy texture.
Rice cake purse
A filling of mochi inside a bag of fried tofu. This is a favorite dish of Japanese children.
There are more ingredients than these, so go ahead and find something you like!
How to eat oden.
Oden is sometimes made as a home-style dish, or can be purchased one by one at convenience stores or food stalls.
How to buy Oden at convenience stores
Convenience stores have an oden corner in front of the cash register. They are sold only in winter, but in some places they are sold all year round.
The basic way to buy oden is to pick up the ingredients you want when the container is placed near you.
Fill the container with broth and add the ingredients of your choice.The price is about 120 yen per piece.
When you have finished adding the ingredients, line up at the cash register.
Seasonings such as hot pepper and yuzu kosho are nearby, so take them if you want.
The clerk will often close the lid for you, but if there is a lid near the container, close it yourself.
If there are no containers available, you can order directly from the clerk.
Let’s say, “ODEN KUDASAI (ODEN Prease)!“
After that, just say what ingredients you want in order and the waitress will put them in the container.
Oden and sake are a perfect match.
Hot oden and warm sake is the perfect combination for cold winter.
Sake is made from rice, so it goes especially well with dishes that use “dashi” (soup stock).
The more you bite into the oden, the more the broth soaks into it, and the more you can enjoy the harmony with the fragrant sake.
In fact, the seasoning of the soup stock for oden differs from region to region.
Here are some of the most common ones!
Nagoya Miso Oden
This oden uses “miso” instead of soup stock.
They say it has a sweet and spicy flavor!
The main ingredient is black soup, with bonito powder and aonori (green laver) as finishing touches.
The broth is made mainly from kombu (kelp) and contains fu called “kuruma fu.
Enjoy a variety of oden!
Oden can be enjoyed at both convenience stores and restaurants. It is also recommended when you get a little hungry.
Give it a try!