Monday, January 30, 2012

In these cold winter months in Japan, a favorite winter warmer is oden, a selection of ingredients boiled in a soy-flavored dashi broth. Dashi is made with konbu seaweed and shaved tuna flakes (kezurikatsuo), so oden is not really vegetarian, though many of the other ingredients are staples for non-meat eaters: daikon radish, potatoes, konnyaku (konjac or devil's tongue), kinchaku (mochi in a deep-fried tofu pouch) and tofu. Other things found in oden include boiled eggs, chikuwa fish cakes, folded seaweed, meatballs on sticks, sausages, octopus and sometimes skewered beef.

Convenience store oden

Oden can be found at food stalls at temple fairs and festivals, convenience stores, izakaya and at some specialized Japanese restaurants. There are many regional differences and the oden you eat in Tokyo is likely to differ from that popular in Osaka, Hiroshima or Kyoto.

Aomori oden - heavy on the eggs

You order your oden by the piece and it is served in a either in a bowl with broth or just plain on a tray. Mustard is served to dab on the pieces and to increase the heat effect.

Oden ready to eat

Oden goes well with hot sake rather than beer.

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