Dish Stories

Oden | おでん

Updated: Mar 21, 2019

Origin - Japan

#StreetFood #Assorted #HotPot #Soup

Oden is a kind of Japanese hotpot dish most commonly served during winter. It consists of various ingredients simmered in a soy-flavored light dashi (Japanese soup stock made from seaweed and bonito) broth. Ingredients vary according to region and between each household, however, the most common ones are boiled eggs, daikon, konjac, fishcakes, potatoes, and seaweed.

In Japan, you can find oden at some Japanese restaurants but it can also be made at home. You can also find convenience stores and food stalls selling oden at a reasonably low price because they sell by each ingredient that you order. It’s a warm, comfort food that you’ll surely love during the cold weather.

[ Fun Fact ]

In Japan, you can buy almost any food from a vending machine! And you guessed it, oden is also sold in vending machines in the form of a canned item. They’re famously found in Akihabara, the anime and electronics center of Tokyo, which is also a popular tourist area.

[ History ]

The earliest form of oden is said to from the Muromachi period (1336 – 1573) and consisted of grilled tofu on a stick served with a blob of miso paste. These sticks were known as dengaku as they were thought to resemble priests who performed a rice-planting dance on stilts. Over time, the name of the dish was shortened to oden. During the Edo period (1603 – 1868), food carts would carry a pot and simmer oden in a soy sauce broth while walking around town.

It wasn’t until mid-late 19th century that oden began appearing in restaurants and around this time, more ingredients such as fish cakes were added to the dish. After World War II, migrants came to the city of Tokyo to find a better life. With them, they brought different food items and cooking methods which helped oden become a dish in its own right, distinct from dengaku.

[ How to Eat ]

One of the most popular ingredients of oden is daikon (Japanese white radish) because when simmered in the broth, it will soak up all the umami flavors, so make sure to grab one of those; or even two. The next best thing in oden is the Kinchaku which is a fried tofu pouch with a soft and chewy mochi inside. If you love mochi, this is a must-try!


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