Friday, December 30, 2011

Oden おでん

 My mother is a great cook – not that I am biased or anything – and she makes a lot of great dishes; but one of my favorite dishes of hers is her oden.

Oden (おでん) is a Japanese winter dish consisting of several ingredients such as boiled eggs, daikon radish, konnyaku, and processed fish cakes stewed in a light, soy-flavoured dashi broth. 

Ingredients vary according to region and between each household.  Karashi (Japanese mustard) is often used as a condiment.

Oden was originally what is now commonly called misodengaku or simply dengaku; konnyaku or tofu was boiled and one ate them with miso. Later, instead of using miso, ingredients were cooked in dashi and oden became popular.

Oden is often sold from food carts, and most Japanese convenience stores like 7-11 or Lawson  have simmering oden pots in winter. Many different kinds of oden are sold, with single-ingredient varieties as cheap as 100 yen.

Oden is a very personal dish and there are many variations on the ingredients that one puts into their version of oden.

Popular ingredients

Some of the popular ingredients in oden are:

    Boiled eggs

    Chikuwabu - gluten tubes. Popular in Kantō, virtually unknown elsewhere.

    Sliced daikon

    Suji - beef tendons

    Ito konnyaku





    Kabocha - Japanese squash

    Cabbage roll


    Tsukune - fish or meat balls


    Tebichi - pig's trotters, only in Okinawa

    Tofu products:

        Ganmodoki - fried balls of tofu mixed with grated vegetables

        Atsuage - deep fried tofu

        Kinchaku (巾着, literally "pouch") - pouches of thin deep fried tofu (aburaage) filled with mochi and other ingredients, with the top tied with kanpyō. Also referred to as fukuro (, literally "bag").

       Seared Tofu - mainly in Kansai versions

    Surimi (fish paste) products: - most of them are already deep fried before simmering.

        Bakudan - boiled egg wrapped in surimi

        Chikuwa - thick tubes of surimi

        Gobomaki - boiled gobo (burdock root) wrapped in surimi


        Ikamaki - squid wrapped in surimi

        wiener-maki, or sausage-maki - wiener sausage wrapped in surimi


        Shinjoage - fried seafood paste

Regional variations

In Nagoya, it may be called Kantō-ni (関東煮) and soy sauce is used as a dipping sauce. 

Miso oden is simmered in hatcho-miso broth, which is lightly sweet taste. Konnyaku and tofu are common ingredients.

In Kansai area they are sometimes called Kantō-daki (関東煮 or 関東炊き) and tend to be stronger flavoured than the lighter Kantō version.

Oden in Shizuoka use a dark colored broth flavoured with beef stock and dark soy sauce, and all ingredients are skewered. Dried and ground fish (sardine, mackerel, or katsuobushi) and aonori powder (edible seaweed) are sprinkled on top before eating.

Udon restaurants in Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku almost always offer oden as a side dish, to be eaten with sweet miso while waiting for the udon.

In Taiwan, the dish is called Heilun/Olun (黑輪) in the Taiwanese language. Besides the more traditional ingredients, olen also uses many local ingredients, such as pork meatballs and blood puddings. 

More recently, oden is offered in convenience stores and is known as guandongzhu (Kuantung-chu; 關東煮) in Mandarin.

In Korea, Odaeng (오댕) is a street food that's sold from small carts and is served with a spicy soup. It's very common on the streets of Korea and there are many restaurants that have it on their menu or specialize in it.

Of course, my favorite is my mother's and here is my first bowl from last night - my first of many...oden is something I can just eat and eat!!

As we say in Japan - Oishii!!  おいしい!!

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