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Oden (Fish Cake Hot Pot) おでん

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Oden is a national dish that is indispensable for winter in Japan. If you go to a convenience store, you will find an oden pot near the cash register. I think there are many Japanese people who are relieved by the scent during checkout. In winter, oden often appears in our homes. I love eating hot oden on cold days.

What is Oden ?

Oden is the hot pot of stewed fish cakes and vegetables. This dish keeps many japanese warm and nourished throughout the winter. Oden is often garnished with some Japanese mustard (wa-garashi) or a salty, citrusy paste (Yuzu kosho).

There are three major regional styles of oden : Kansai style, Kanto style and Nagoya style. Kansai style oden is light and delicate, based on a simple broth of kelp and bonito flake broth with salt. Kanto style oden starts with the Kansai style base, which is then enriched with the addition of soy sauce and sugar. The intense, miso-based Nagoya style is rarely found outside that region.

What are popular Oden menu items ?

– Age-boru : Deep-fried fish cakes (called Satsuma-age) shaped into the form of balls
– Atsu-age : Thick-cut tofu that has been deep-fried; the outer part has a light golden color while the inside remains white and tender
– Chikuwabu : Gluten pounded into a cylindrical shape; it has a chewy texture
– Daikon One of the most popular items in oden; it is cooked until tender
– Fukuro :  A deep-fried tofu packet that is stuffed with vegetables, ground meat, sgurataki (konnyaku noodles) etc.
– Ganmodoki : Tofu into which different items are mixed and then deep-fried
– Gobo-maki : Julienned burdock root surrounded by fish cake and deep-fried
– Hanpen : A steamed fish cake (with light, marshmallow-like texture) often made from shark’s meat and grated yamaimo potato
– Ika maki : Deep-fried fish cake enveloping sliced squid
– Konnyaku : A jelly-like cake mafe from a root vegetable; also referred as devil’s tongue
– Musubi Kombu : Kelp tied in a knot.
– Satsuma-age : Whitefish that is ground and formed into a paste and deep-fried in oil.
– Shirataki : Stings of the root vegetable konnyaku
– Tako : Octopus
– Tamago : Hard-boiled egg
– Tofu : In oden, often grilled tofu called Yakidofu
– Tsumire : Fish paste, made from silver-skinned fish such as sardines
– Yaki chikuwa : Fish paste shaped into a cylinder and grilled


Where you can buy Oden in Japan ?
For seven or eight months of the year, you will see big pots of steaming oden near the cash registers of convenience stores. It’s not unusual to see a customer walk in, pick up an alcohol and a container of oden, too.  There are several small stores that offers take out only or restaurants that specialize in oden where chefs stand guard over large hot pots with long chopsticks, carefully coddling the ingredients, adding a ladleful of broth here, adding a few fish cakes there, stirring and keeping watch as the night goes on.
You might also like…
1. Osekihan (Festive rice with sweet potato) 
2. Vegan Nikujaga
3. Sukiyaki

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on November 14, 2014. The post has been updated in January 2, 2021 with more information for the dish and with new images.

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