Oden: Japan’s staple winter food

Oden is a traditional Japanese dish that’s served in a large pot, filled with a dashi broth and an array of staple Japanese foods and vegetables in it. The ingredients stew in the broth  Some ingredients and broth vary depending on the region in Japan. It’s believed that oden originated from around the 14th century in its earliest form; skewered grilled tofu with miso sauce. Over the years various other ingredients were added and changed until it became what it is today.

These are some of the staple ingredients used in it:

Fishcakes: They come is different shapes and flavours; one of them is chikuwa, a tube shaped fish cake with a slightly firm, spongy texture. There is also hanpan, a white triangle-shaped fish cake made from Japanese mountain yams, it is very soft with a mild taste.

Boiled eggs: The eggs absorb the broth which changes the colour of the egg whites into a brown colour. It also absorbs the broth’s flavours which makes it more delicious!

Daikon: Like the boiled egg, this Japanese white radish absorbs the flavours of the broth. The white radish doesn’t have as much of a strong flavour as western radishes, and is a lot softer in texture and taste. 

Konnyaku: also known as konjac, this is a rubbery, jelly-like food that is made from the underground stem of a konjac potato. It’s extremely healthy; it’s good for digestive health, preventing high blood pressure and blood sugar levels, detoxing, and contributes to bone health. It’s also extremely alkaline, meaning it helps to neutralise and balance out the acidity levels in your digestive system. 

As it’s such a warming dish it’s best enjoyed during the winter; I have it with my children every winter in the comfort of our home. It was initially served at street stalls, but nowadays all of the ingredients are readily available in supermarkets, and there are restaurants in Japan that specialise in this classic, comforting dish, making it accessible all year round. 

I recommend everyone give it a try! In my opinion it’s one of the best winter foods out there!


References/helpful links

  1. https://cookingwithyoshiko.com/konnyaku-the-broom-of-the-stomach/
  2. https://arigatojapan.co.jp/oden-traditional-wintery-taste-of-japan/