Ingredients, dishes and drinks from Japan by Ad Blankestijn

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Oden, hodgepodge. ใŠใงใ‚“。

Various ingredients are simmered for a long time in a broth of dashi. Popular items are: slices of daikon (white radish), konnyaku (devil's tongue jelly), shelled boiled eggs, ganmodoki (type of deep-fried beancurd), yakidofu (grilled beancurd), fresh tofu, atsu-age, satsumage, chikuwa (fish paste rolls), kamaboko (fish paste), hanpen,  cabbage rolls, potato, gobo rolls, tsukune, grilled pork, chicken, sausages, wakame (sea weed), etc.

Oden is eaten hot with a little stock in the bowl and a dab of karashi (Japanese mustard). It is a typical blue-collar yatai dish, but now also going more upscale.

The full name of oden is nikomi dengaku. In the Kansai it may also be called Kanto daki, in Nagoya Kanto ni. This points at the Kanto origin of the dish - it began as fish dumplings from Tokyo Bay eaten with miso. These dumplings were served on wooden skewers and became known as "dengaku" after an ancient dance where performers walked on stilts. "Dengaku" was later abbreviated to "den," which became oden with the honorific "o" in front.

Although you can easily buy the ingredients seperately and make an original combination, supermarkets also sell oden sets. Besides that, fresh oden is nowadays sold in most convenience stores in Japan. Most street stalls selling the dish have disappeared, but there are still some specialist restaurants. Where fresh oden is sold, it sits simmering in large steel containers divided into compartments for the various ingredients. New ingredients can be added all the time. Besides that, it is normally served in izakaya during winter. It is excellent with sake!