An Ode to Oden – Comfort Food From Japan

Nov 20th, 2008 | By Shane Sakata | Category: Food, Lifestyle

Oden in JapanIt’s fast, it’s a little bit funky, and you can get it at almost any convenience store in Japan!  Step into any Japanese convenience store in the fall or winter and you will notice a distinctive aroma – the aroma of Oden, a traditional Japanese dish made by boiling a variety of ingredients in broth for hours.

Oden is as popular as it is inexpensive – most Oden restaurants, festival stalls and convenience stores allow you to pick and choose the items that you want to eat – consider it a buffet of comfort food that will quickly shake off the chill of cool day or night in Japan.  Many of the selections are less than 100 Yen each so you don’t need to be flush with cash to taste this simple but satisfying Japanese stew for yourself.

This steam emanating from an Oden vat comes from the slowly simmering broth made with katsuo (bonito fish flakes) or konbu (kelp/seaweed) and seasoned with shoyu (soy sauce).  Common Oden selections include:

  • Tofu – Either fried (astuage), grilled (yakidofu) or fresh
  • Daikon – Japanese white radish
  • Tamago – Hard boiled eggs
  • Jagaimo – Boiled potatoes
  • Konbumaki – Kelp (rolled and tied into a knot)
  • Kon’nyaku – Translucent blocks of a vegetable starch
  • Uinnaa-maki – Cocktail sausage
  • Gobomaki – Strips of Burdock Root

Oden Japanese Food

Fishcakes, seaweed, noodles and skewered meats can also be added to the Oden broth and the dish is commonly served with a small amount of strong mustard (karashi) to spice up what some feel is a bland taste.   Oden lovers enjoy the variety of textures of the different ingredients that when simmered together create a flavorful broth.

Take some time to peruse the Convenience Store Oden Menus at Bento.com to learn more about this warm Japanese comfort food and then head out to try it for yourself this winter.

Image Credit: Flickr, おでん & no title by Kaori_S

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5 comments
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  1. i always get oden from my local 7-11. reckon it’s the best oden that one can get from a convenience store. i didn’t see it in your common selections, but gyusuji is among my regulars.

  2. [...] Do you aspire to be B-grade gourmet?  B-grade gourmet is "food that is inexpensive but delicious and distinctive to a locality" and is what you eat with friends and family.  The B-1 Grand Prix was held in Kurume, Japan and featured 24 of Japan’s best-loved dishes competing for the holy grail of B-grade cuisine.  The winner was "Atsugi Shirokoro Hormone" (knubby white chitterlings barbecued in a miso sauce) and other entries included yakitori (skewered grilled chicken), Tonkotsu ramen (noodles in pork broth) and "Shizuoka oden" (read more about Oden). [...]

  3. Ken- Gyusuji are beef tendons or what are sometimes called oxtails? I must admit I haven’t tried them or if I did I didn’t know the name…

  4. [...] Sakata takes a stroll off the beaten path, introducing readers to comfort food from Japan. Some of these items may sound a little exotic, but they can really be quite delectable. [...]

  5. Everything in that picture looks tasty!!! I’m gonna have to visit Japan…

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