A warming staple of Japanese households in winter, oden is a traditional Japanese dish that consists of various ingredients simmered together in a light dashi broth. Flavored with soy sauce, sake, and mirin, oden is midway between a soup and a hot pot, comforting if curious upon first encounter. Restaurants cook oden in stainless steel vessels, while families often use wide ceramic pots in their home kitchens. Tasty and nutritious, classic ingredients (however seemingly unidentifiable) include fish cakes, tofu, daikon radish, eggs, beef sinew, and konnyaku. Oden evolved from a dish called dengaku, which was tofu grilled on a stick with a dollop of miso, and later it was added to a soy sauce broth with other ingredients, a simple yet nourishing soup that eventually became oden.
Of course featuring regional varieties, Okinawa simmers local pig feet in a pork broth, Shizuoka Prefecture specializes in beef stock, while Nagoya can’t help but add miso to everything (oden included). Scoop your favorite oden pieces to-go at your local convenience store in winter, or buy it from specialty shops in hidden back streets. Embrace Japan’s winter soul food during an oden experience! Join a traditional Japanese cooking class to learn how to make home-style oden, taste it from a local street cart on a food tour, or try oden at a cozy izakaya during a bar crawl. Add a kick of mustard or chili paste, and it’s the perfect solution to a cold day.